Growth Rings

Lightning strike gives Doug fir new lease on life

Posted on December 15, 2014 at 1:13 pm

This article originally appeared on the Portland Parks & Recreation Urban Forestry Blog.

By Barbara Warren-Sams

IMG 2444 300x225 Lightning strike gives Doug fir new lease on life

Barbara Warren-Sams stands with the “Lucky” Douglas fir in her yard in Portland’s Beaumont-Wilshire neighborhood.
Photo: Barbara Warren-Sams

I’m writing to share with you the survival story of a very old Douglas-fir from the early 1900s to the present—from mature tree to wildlife snag.

When my grandson, now fast approaching his twentieth birthday, was a fifth grader, he interviewed me about our tree and wrote a paper that he chose to title, “The Lucky Tree.” Why’d he choose “lucky?” Well, here are major obstacles that Lucky survived.

In the early 1900s, I surmise that Lucky survived a massive cutting down of trees that led to Portland being nicknamed Stump Town!

In the summer of 1962 my father had Lucky topped.

On October 12, 1962, a typhoon also known as “The Columbus Day Storm” or “The Big Blow” hit Portland causing massive tree loss in our northeast neighborhood and four days without power. A nearby neighbor reported to my dad that twice while he nervously watched our tree, its branches touched the front lawn.

Unfortunately, in June 2012, Mother Nature once again threatened Lucky who now stood about 140 feet high with a DBA of 14 feet. As I stood in my living room one early evening during a brief lightning storm, I heard the crash of thunder as if a bomb had exploded in the backyard. The next morning I stepped outside and found a few pieces of thick Douglas-fir bark lying near the front porch. I assumed that lightning may have struck one of the large upper branches.

Read the rest of the article and see more photos of “Lucky” on the Portland Parks & Recreation Urban Forestry Blog.

Barbara Warren-Sams is a former Portland Urban Forestry Commissioner and current Beaumont Wilshire Neighborhood Tree Steward. 


Trees of Friends

Posted on December 9, 2014 at 3:39 pm

By Dave Adamshick, Friends of Trees Communication Specialist

As the newest staff member of Friends of Trees, I knew my new colleagues were serious about putting trees in the ground. Last year they planted over 41,000 trees and native shrubs in the Pacific Northwest. The best way to get to know someone is to ask them about what they’re passionate about: With the holidays around the corner, I kept the subject on trees and asked my new coworkers to share any special holiday tree rituals and memories.

Brighton Tree Hunting 300x225 Trees of Friends

To The Tree

Brighton West, Friends of Trees’ Deputy Director, climbs into his trusty Subaru with his wife, Kat, and his Golden Retriever, Rowan, and they “Head to the Historic Kirchem Tree Farm in Canby, Oregon, in early December, ride the tractor out into the far field and cut down a tree, drink hot chocolate, then strap it to our Subaru for the ride back to PDX.”

Whitney Dorer, Neighborhood Trees Manager, spends the Sunday after Thanksgiving ambling down the street a mile to the Optimist Club on Lombard to help support Roosevelt High School. There she and her partner, Amy, pick out a petite little Doug Fir, take it home, and decorate it while drinking egg nog and rum by the fire.

Whit Holiday Tree Trees of Friends

Tidings and Cheer

Erica Trimm, Friends’ Neighborhood Trees Senior Specialist and ISA Arborist, tells me thoughts of holiday trees take her back to her youth spent on a 50-acre farmstead located on the upper peninsula of Michigan. There she and her family piled into an actual red sleigh hooked up to her dad’s John Deere tractor and took a little trip to a distant part of the farm where the older trees grew. She remembers, “My mom and dad would then cut it down and we’d load it into the back seat of the sleigh and set it up and decorate it with Spanish moss, bow-tied cinnamon sticks and big pine cones in front of the fireplace.”

For me, I’m not really of the Christmas tree tradition. I enjoy Christmas trees—the scent, having a tree indoors seems a brilliant idea, bringing the calm of outdoors inside, so much so, I think about getting a tree every few years, but it seems like a lot of work, even though I’m sure there are starter kits for beginning tree trimmers. With December being such a busy month, decorating a tree would go unappreciated considering I’d rarely be at home to enjoy it.

Fortunately, there’re plenty of friends around who share the tradition and the knowledge of holiday trees, so I’m excused from the procuring, the decorating, the untangling of cords and finding the right replacement tiny lights: I can swoop in and enjoy the glow of a festivities present and the glow memories of trees past.

Dave Adamshick is the brand new communications specialist at Friends of Trees. You can reach him at


Look what we found under our tree!

Posted on December 8, 2014 at 1:54 pm

Look what we found under our tree… 4,000 beautifully wrapped presents! Each has their own name, their own unique style and their own story of becoming part of the Friends of Trees family.

VolunteerNameCloudTree 400x600 Look what we found under <em>our</em> tree!

We’d like to extend our deepest gratitude to all of our volunteers this past year. You are a powerful force to improve the natural world through a simple solution: planting trees, together.

Ready to dig in in 2015? Learn more about volunteering



Poll: Where do you get your holiday tree?

Posted on December 7, 2014 at 2:07 pm

And here are some traditions from Friends of Trees staff.