The Canopy

California buckeye (Aesculus californica)  Photo: Jeff Reimer

California buckeye (Aesculus californica) Photo: Jeff Reimer

This issue focuses on the importance of maintaining our existing tree canopy and planting for the future. I couldn’t have pulled these voices and stories together without the help of my guest co-editor Sairus Patel, PHS board member and a life-long tree enthusiast.

The legendary peepul (Ficus religiosa) and the regal gulmohar (Delonix regia) were some of the first trees I learned. Native and exotic, they rubbed boughs in front of my childhood home in Bombay. In the cool and tranquil Nilgiris, or “blue mountains” in South India where my family vacationed, I skipped along hushed and fragrant pathways under towering blue gums (Eucalyptus globulus), collecting their old-fashioned coat button-like fruit capsules.

I continued my arboreal explorations in California when I moved into a house with a garden. As he trimmed the looming brush cherries (Syzygium australe) off my roof, a friendly arborist from around the corner told me about guided tree walks here in Palo Alto. These monthly walks led by Canopy, a local urban forest non-profit, are a gift to the community much like architecture or historical district tours, except that we learned about trees and their stories.

You can read Sairus’ complete essay here. As we’ve built this issue, we’ve been impressed with the passion and the generosity displayed by our West Coast horticulture community. From a college course designed to engage the next generation, to an ambitious community tree-planting initiative in Oregon that’s planting for the future—and clean water, to activists in Los Angeles racing against conditions to save endangered landscapes, people are acknowledging the importance of trees. Stories from horticulturists and West Coast planting programs help gardeners determine the best selection when it comes to establishing new tree plantings. And a small arboretum in central California celebrates the maturity of a nurseryman’s vision.

Trees mean something different to different regions, different people, and even different periods throughout time. But one thing is clear—trees are to be respected, cared for, and preserved—not just for their future but for ours as well.