Can I get a refill?
Next month, volunteers will be planting trees, shrubs, and understory near a major intersection on the Bob Straub Parkway in Springfield. But they won’t be starting from scratch—this location has already been the site for four planting events in the past six years. You’ve heard us say it before at Friends of Trees, we don’t just plant and walk away. But what exactly does that mean? It means post-planting care, stewardship training, and in the case of many natural area plantings like this one, it means infill planting.
Infilling is sort of like refilling, not that this site is empty. Thanks to enthusiastic past volunteers who planted it and neighbors of the planting site who have protected it, it’s already a beautiful spot.
“This is one of our most successful Green Space plantings,” says Eugene Director Erik Burke. “It’s in the floodplain, and it has really good soil. Overall, things are growing really well.”
That doesn’t mean that the site isn’t worthy of some replanting. At natural area plantings like this one, we plant in pods that have multiple levels: trees, shrubs, and herbaceous understory with things like milkweed and camas. At the Bob Straub planting site, a few trees need to be replaced and some of the shrubs and flowers could use some support.
“We really want to create a rich, robust planting area,” Erik says. “It’s so satisfying to create these dense clusters of plants.”
We plant these pods similar to the Miyawaki Method, which aims to mimic how a forest would rebuild itself if people stepped away. It’s all about establishing a community of trees and plants, which is fitting because a community of people plant it, care for it, and benefit from it.
“Like with all of our plantings, it’s important to make sure that they have a lasting impact,” Erik says. “That’s why we return.”
A new E-Bike grant gives our Eugene team even more Pedal Power!
Our Eugene-Springfield team just received an Electric Mobility Grant from the Eugene Water & Electric Board. The team will receive two new electric bicycles to use for pedal powered planting. Our Eugene plantings already feature robust bicycle use and these new e-bikes will expand our plant-by-bike program even more.
“It’ll be great to be able to use these new e-bikes to haul trees at planting events,” says Eugene-Springfield Program Manager Taylor Glass. The team has borrowed e-bikes from partners in the past so they know exactly how useful they can be.
“Eugene has a fair amount of hills,” says Eugene Director Erik Burke. “It can be a fun challenge on a regular bike, but I’ve had to get off to push a bike trailer up a big hill.”
“The e-bikes can go further and up hills and that just opens up more possibilities for where we can plant by bike,” Taylor says. “And it will give volunteers an opportunity to try them out.”
Beyond planting events Friends of Trees staff will be able to use the e-bikes for things like site inspections, outreach events, and pruning. Reducing how often we drive as part of the sustainability goals for Friends of Trees.
“You really get to know the city better when you’re biking through it rather than driving,” Erik says.
Want to get in on the action this season? Check out our planting event calendar. Do you want to step up and lead a planting crew? Crew leader training is November 29th.
How the Eugene-Springfield team is starting the 2023 season
In Eugene and Springfield, Friends of Trees has been growing a robust community of tree stewards through their community pruning events. They’re about halfway through their slate of seven pruning events, each one with a small but mighty crew of pruners. By keeping these events intimate, each pruner gets plenty of hands-on experience.
“Young tree pruning is the most cost effective thing you can do for an urban forest,” says Eugene Director Erik Burke. “It’s a great experience for volunteers. We have a lot of regulars, and some new folks too.”
The Eugene Springfield team will kick off their season as they always do with another planting along Northwest Expressway on November 4th. This year will be the monumental Phase 10 of this planting project. It’s a prime example of putting trees in places where there’s plenty of room for trees and the benefits they provide. The team is able to plant large species, and also plant shrubs and bulbs to create a multi-level habitat for pollinators and wildlife. As each phase matures it does more and more to clean the air from the expressway and the railroad.
One of the most exciting things happening in Eugene this season will be the expansion of our equity work into high priority neighborhoods. With funding from an EWEB Greenpower Grant, the Bethel, Trainsong, and Far West neighborhoods will each get planting events, increased engagement, and more trees!
“We want to continue focusing our urban tree planting work on equity, sustainability, and resilience,” Erik says. “The Greenpower grant has allowed us to do even more.”
These are just a few of the exciting things happening for our Eugene Team this season. Stay tuned for when we dig in on these topics and more, and visit their event calendar here to join in on the fun!
If you’ve ever gone on a tree walk with Eugene Director Erik Burke, you’ve heard about some of the nuanced differences among trees that you can study to identify them. One iconic characteristic is always a good starting point: the leaf. Summer is a great time to investigate the myriad shapes that leaves take.
But what exactly comprises a single leaf? A tricky aspect of plant morphology is understanding simple leaves versus compound leaves. A simple leaf is a singular leaf connected by its stem, or petiole, to the branch (like the Oregon white Oak pictured above).
Sometimes what you might think is an entire leaf is actually a leaflet on a compound leaf. Leaflets will all be attached to the main petiole, which is connected to the branch. How can you tell the difference? Look for the bud node, which will appear where the stem connects to the branch, but not where a leaflet connects to the stem.
Some compound-leaved trees include golden rain tree, red horsechestnut, yellowwood, Amur maackia (pictured above), and Kentucky coffee tree (pictured below). The Kentucky coffee tree has double compound leaves. That means that their leaflets have leaflets. Their leaflet branches can have 40 leaflets!
Some other common trees that folks may know that have compound leaves include ashes, buckeyes, locusts, walnuts, and the infamous tree of heaven. Becca and Erik in the Eugene office sometimes compete at events for who can find the tree of heaven leaf with the most leaflets. Becca currently has the record with 49.
One of the best times to get up close and personal with a tree’s leaves is when you’re pruning. Our Eugene-Springfield team is hosting community printing events August through October. Details here.
Reflecting on another successful season
The Eugene-Springfield team had their final event on May 6th and with hardly a break has already started their summer watering routine. Still, they’ve taken time to reflect on the successes of the 2022- 2023 planting event season. It was a season characterized by more bicycles, new relationships, and emerging leaders.
“We had the most consistent group of new crew leaders this season,” says Eugene-Springfield Program Manager Taylor Glass. “This new cohort quickly rose to lead alongside our veteran CLs. It’s great to have that consistency at planting events.”
The team also worked to expand the use of bicycle crews at planting events. Partnering with PeaceHealth Rides, we had three events with multiple bicycle crews.
“This is something we want to keep doing more of,” says Eugene Director Erik Burke. “Not only is it a sustainability goal, volunteers just really love it.”
Another area with promising growth this year has been planting at school campuses. We had four plantings at schools, installing trees along the public right of way. The Eugene team has been developing relationships with the school grounds managers to make sure the newly planted trees are well cared for and to find more opportunities to grow tree canopy at school sites.
With the 2023 Greenpower Grant from Eugene Water & Electric Board, the Eugene team looks forward to further expanding its planting program in areas that need trees most. The $50,000 award will fund the expansion of their Neighborhood Tree program to all areas of Eugene with low tree equity scores
Another highlight of the year was especially fun—attending Portland planting events and hosting Portland staff at Eugene events.
“It’s great to spend time together,” Taylor says, “and to exchange ideas on how to do things. Our events are a little different from Portland events.”
One of the things the Eugene team does differently: they keep their neighborhood planting events relatively small. The volunteers largely prefer the more intimate events. They get to connect with each other and still plant plenty of trees.