Would it surprise you to hear that Eugene has a Mediterranean climate? Warm, dry summers and mild, wet winters are typical of the Mediterranean and, yes, Eugene. And as the climate crisis progresses and changes even more, this likely will become more so. Which means, when we think about which trees to plant, we need to think about trees that will survive and thrive in this climate, and it’s not always the same trees we planted 100 or even 25 years ago.
We’ve been experimenting with planting climate adaptive trees in the Eugene area for more than 10 years now. We look for trees that are adapted to summer drought, as opposed to trees that receive summer rainfall in their native land (like red maple or flowering dogwood); we also take into consideration other ingredients necessary for successfully growing trees, such as Eugene’s poorly drained soils.
Some of these trees that are native elsewhere can be hard to get here, so we take a three phase approach to acquire climate adaptive trees for planting:
We first identify the climate resilient trees available in local nurseries, trees like silver linden or Oregon white oak, and we plant more of them.
Next we look at trees suited for climate change that are available in nurseries outside our area and we import them, sometimes from as far as from central California, or grow them locally, trees like chitalpa or valley oak.
And for our third tier trees, we look at trees not currently available from most nurseries, trees like chinquapin or canyon live oak, and we partner with local nurseries to grow them or we learn to grow them ourselves. We collect and purchase seeds or we buy seedlings (aka, “liners,” in nursery-speak), and learn to grow them to the size and shape suitable for planting on Eugene streets. Since we began this work, some climate resilient trees that weren’t widely available are now grown locally, such as Persian Ironwood or Chinese pistache.
We now plant more climate resilient trees than ever, and get all our trees from Oregon nurseries and our own gardens. We have partnerships with local nurseries that take seeds or liners and grow them out to planting size. We also try a more personal approach: Friends of Trees Eugene Tree Team members Erik and Jeff try growing some of these species in their own yards. As you might expect, this final tactic involves a bit of trial and error; however, we’re pretty pleased to share that more than 25 trees grown from this method we like to call the Tree Team Yard Strategy are now successfully growing in the Eugene area including: Atlas cedar (native to North Africa); Oregon myrtle (though Oregon is in the name, strong specimens are not commonly found in local nurseries); canyon live oak; and California black oak.
Interested in doing some experimenting in your own yard? Drop us a line and we’ll share some seeds or liners to try planting in the fall!
Photo: An Oregon myrtle planted at I-105 Rose Garden, grown from seed by FOTE’s Jeff Lanza.
Mattie Reynolds Park was the perfect site for our MLK Day of Service.
Along with 17 new trees, a new park in the City of Eugene has great historical significance. Mattie Reynolds Park, the site of our January 18th Martin Luther King Jr Day of Service, honors one of Eugene’s founding Black families, Sam and Mattie Reynolds. The Reynolds’ fight for civil rights was one of their many important contributions to Eugene and the surrounding area, and adding trees to the park that bears their name seems a fitting MLK Day event.
Friends of Trees Eugene, and the City of Eugene, with sponsorship support from Mountain Rose Herbs, hosted the community tree planting event that added the new trees to Mattie Reynolds Park, along with planting 31 trees in surrounding neighborhoods.
The day’s featured speaker was Pastor Deleesa Meashintubby from St. Mark CME Church, the oldest African American church in Eugene. Also in attendance, along with many community volunteers, were Sam and Mattie Reynolds’ daughter and granddaughter. We’re honored to have played even a small role in helping establish this important tribute to the Reynolds family.
Photo: Community volunteers plant trees at Mattie Reynolds Park. Photo courtesy of Dean Walton.
Friends of Trees strives to plant and care for trees in a way that is equitable and inclusive. For Friends of Trees Eugene that means updating our processes and working with our partners to reach parts of town that are underserved and more diverse.
In the past, as Eugene Tree Foundation, plantings focused in the downtown core and in south Eugene where volunteers lived. When we became Friends of Trees in 2009, we immediately expanded our service area to Springfield and underserved parts of Eugene, beginning with three 2010 plantings in Trainsong, a historically underserved neighborhood.
In the past, trees weren’t necessarily planted where they were needed most – in underserved neighborhoods. In recent years the process was improved to include an equity lens in order to diversify planting locations, and as a result West Eugene, which is more diverse and historically underserved than other neighborhoods, has become a priority location for new street trees in Eugene. We also prioritize planting trees in Springfield, which, like West Eugene, is more diverse and historically underserved.
Friends of Trees Eugene’s Pruning Program also strives to deliver valuable tree care services in an equitable fashion, again, prioritizing West Eugene until it’s “caught up” in terms of trees pruned. We prune 250-300 trees every season, thanks to our City of Eugene partnership (which funds pruning for 200 trees) and community support from donors such as Sperry Tree Care–and thanks to the trained community pruners who volunteer to provide critical care to young trees.
Friends of Trees has partnered with the City of Eugene on pruning programs for nearly 30 years; in the summer of 2020 we began choosing our sites through an equity filter, with a much greater focus on work in west Eugene. We’re hopeful about the City of Eugene’s ability to invest further in community-based pruning, toward meeting our goal of pruning every tree we plant at least once, ideally twice. FOTE intends to build our community tree care program to do more good work in Eugene and Springfield’s underserved neighborhoods.
Interested in supporting tree planting and tree care in Eugene and Springfield? Look for volunteer opportunities here, and donate to Friends of Trees Eugene here – all donations from addresses in Lane County support our local office here. Thank you!
Photo: One of our first planting events in the Trainsong neighborhood, 2010.
In this time of uncertainty, there’s a fundamental truth that gives us hope: together we can do extraordinary things. Friends of Trees knows this so well since that’s what we do: We plant trees. Together. And to keep doing that, to ensure trees + community are in our future, we need your help – can we count on you, if you are able, to donate to Friends of Trees Eugene today? Not only will donations plant trees + grow community, the first $1,250 will be matched by our good friends at Journey Tree Financial – thank you!
Over the past few weeks and months, the entire world has been coming together to stand up, help out, give back, and heal. Whether that’s through donations to community organizations, celebrating doctors and nurses at shift changes, or reaching out to a neighbor to help with groceries, generosity has been helping the entire world get through this global pandemic. Together.
Friends of Trees Eugene is part of #GivingTuesdayNow and we invite you to join us. Giving Tuesday Now with the Eugene Tree Team is a virtual, day-long social media event featuring Tree Talks, LIVE tree walks, and more!
Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day with the Eugene Tree Team – virtually!
We’ll have tree talks and LIVE tree walks + talks on our Facebook and Instagram channels, and we’ll share some of the Portland Tree Team’s events, too! Join us for #EarthDay2020 !
Thank you to our #EarthDay2020 sponsors!