|Oh Tom Kiefer, you are so right.|
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So I was startled to find out that it was gone.
I wonder what happened. Was the tree sick and old and needed to be cut down? Or did the owner simply decide they didn’t want it there anymore? If it’s the former, I can understand cutting it down. But if it’s the latter, that’s a shame.
I know that some people hate palm trees. Too much association with California, and more specifically, Californians. So cutting down the palm could be seen as a “justifiable” act. Let’s face it: there are no protected palm trees in Portland. You’ll never see one be considered for Heritage Tree status. Palms don’t look like they belong here. But how many of Portland’s Heritage Trees are actually native to this area? Or most of our street trees? Those lovely trees that we admire, most of them are native to areas east of the Rockies or the Mississippi. How’s that for local?
And that spindly windmill palm, clinging on for dear life to the side of that apartment building, was the closest thing to a heritage palm tree we might ever get.*
Let’s face it: we’re more apt to tear down things from our recent past or things we don’t feel belong here than “historic” buildings. But what is historic? Don’t we need to preserve some aspects of every era, even if we find it ugly at the time? In the 1950’s Portland went to work tearing down block upon block of 19th Century cast-iron buildings. Why? Because they were “ugly” and “old”. We lost a great chunk of history. Thankfully in the 1970’s the tide changed and preservation was a buzz word. But preservation of things of a certain age. Or of “historic value”.
Who determines historic value, anyway? As documented in Dan Haneckow’s excellent blog Cafe Unknown Portland just recently down Hotel West where the famed punk club Satyricon was located. While the building itself was not “architectually significant”, Satyricon was culturally significant. It was where Kurt met Courtney, for one. But that mattered little in the eyes of the preservationists. So down it went. Twenty years from now, will we look back on this and think that we were foolish?
I was a bit steamed, to say the least.
Thankfully the palm tree just around the corner was still standing.
|I think the palm compliments the Del Ray Apartments quite well.|
And I found something else to cheer me up: a madrona tree! I spotted this beauty on NE Everett near 24th.
|Love the exfoliating bark!|
Now ironically enough madrones are native to this area. They are in fact the only broadleaf evergreen we got native to this part of the Northwest. But you rarely see them around town, because they make bad street or yard trees. Not so much due to the litter of leaves and exfoliating bark but more due to soil. Madronas like well drained soil. That’s a reason why they cling to hillsides, and why most of them are found along the bluffs lining the Willamette. Most people don’t want to go through the trouble of planting them on their property.
I like including madronas along with other “exotics” as eucalyptus on my Palm Tree Ride. So I lost an old friend and gained a new one for this upcoming tour.
*The palm on SE 22nd and Stephens would be the runner-up.