The Year of the Oak

Consider a climate resilient oak tree for your yard this year!

As we kick off planting season, many people are selecting which trees they want planted in their yards. This year, we invite you to consider an oak tree!

There are many species of oaks, which comprise the genus Quercus of the beech family, Fagaceae. North America alone has about 160 species of oak. We want to highlight the amazing power of oaks and showcase some of the oaks we have in the store this year, from the climate resilient Oregon white oak you probably recognize to more unique varieties like kindred spirit oaks and bamboo leaf oaks. We’ve got oaks of different size and character, so please reach out to us to chat about which one might be right for your yard!

We’ve talked before about how we love oaks—even our mascot is an oak tree! Oak trees are particularly good providers to their ecological community, from significantly contributing to the food web to managing the watershed to storing carbon. In those regards, it’s one of the most productive things you can put in your own yard.

“We get a lot of oaks each season,” says Neighborhood Trees Senior Specialist Drew Land. “As a genus, they are an effective resource against climate change. And I want people to know that!”

Stay tuned to our social media feeds as we highlight awesome species like willow oak, a favorite among our specialists, and swamp white oak, a tree that does remarkably well in the urban environment, and more!

Planting in memory of Gail Achterman

April 14, 2012 Planting in Memory of Gail Achterman
Gail Achterman's family planting an oak in her memory

On April 14, 135 volunteers gathered in SE Portland to enhance the I-205 Multi-Use Path for cyclists, pedestrians and neighbors. As part of the tree planting, family, friends and colleagues of Gail Achterman gathered to plant more than a dozen oaks in her memory.

Oregon State Rep. Alissa Keny-Guyer greeted the volunteers. She was honored, she said, that Gail’s memorial planting was in her district. She recalled Gail’s warmth and helpfulness, and her advocacy for land management and transportation policies. Gail was instrumental, she said, in helping ensure the Columbia River Gorge became a scenic protected area.

Pictured in the slide show above are Gail’s husband, Chuck McGinnis, Rep. Alissa Keny-Guyer, FOT Executive Director Scott Fogarty, ODOT Region 1 Public Policy & Community Affairs Manager Shelli Romero, and other community volunteers planting in Gail’s memory.

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Garry Oak wants to be your valentine

Valentines for Garry Oak
Garry Oak is waiting to hear from you (FOT file)

By Emma Gray

This Valentine’s Day, love is in the air, and Friends of Trees’ mascot, Garry Oak, wants to be your valentine. Garry is a nine-foot Oregon White Oak with bright, glossy foliage, a great smile, and a sensitive soul. Garry likes fresh air, squirrels, and long walks on the beach. Would you like to be Garry’s valentine?

If you think you are the one to win Garry’s heart, tell him why! People of all ages, backgrounds and gender are invited to participate. Send Garry an email at [email protected] or post your love note to Garry on his personal Facebook page or Friends of Trees’ Facebook Fan page. If you aren’t already friends with Garry on Facebook, what are you waiting for? One lucky lovebird will win a Friends of Trees Gift Tree and a personalized valentine delivered by Garry Oak to the winner’s home or office on Monday, February 14.

Friends of Trees at Sunday Parkways: June 27th, 2010
A fan hugs Garry Oak (FOT file)

Garry gives Gift Trees because they are the perfect way to show his love for the earth and for his loved ones. Through Friends of Trees’ Gift Trees program you, too, can purchase a Gift Tree for your sweetheart. Nothing says ‘I Love You’ like a native tree that helps the earth and grows for the lifetime of your love.

Friends of Trees’ Gift Trees are planted in the Collins Sanctuary in Forest Park during one of two annual Gift Tree plantings. All who give or receive Gift Trees for Valentine’s Day this year will be invited to plant their trees at the Gift Tree planting on March 27, 2011. A Gift Tree costs $35, and a Gift Grove of six young native trees costs $100.

Gift Trees restore a forest in our city and support Friends of Trees’ Green Space Initiative, a program that guides volunteers in restoring green spaces throughout the Portland-Vancouver metro area. Friends of Trees’ Neighborhood Trees program offers high-quality street and yard trees at bargain prices and helps neighbors plant their trees together at weekend community events.

Since 1989, Friends of Trees’ thousands of volunteers have planted more than 400,000 trees and native plants. To learn more or to order Gift Trees, visit or call Emma at 503-282-8846 ext. 31.

-Gray is Gift Tree and Membership Services Specialist for Friends of Trees.

Viewing Portland from a tree

By Chelsea Schuyler

What’s it like to be nestled in the canopy of a tree you climbed yourself? Inspiring, a little nerve-racking, and totally exhilarating. All I can say is the pictures don’t do it justice (but check ‘em out anyway!).

Friends of Trees teamed up with the Pacific Tree Climbing Institute (PTCI) and Irvington Community Association last Saturday at Irving Park. PTCI offers guided tree climbing expeditions to give people a whole new appreciation for the value and beauty of our forests.

While I awaited my turn, the kids ahead of me living out Tarzan fantasies, I asked Debbie Seppa, office manager and chef for PTCI, what kind of people typically come to climb with them.

She responded that lately they’ve been getting a lot of ‘bucket listers,’ folks wanting to do all the crazy, inspiring stuff that makes life great before they kick the bucket. I was surprised to hear this; I hadn’t considered climbing a tree to be on the great To Do list. Then it was my turn.

Hauling myself sixty feet up in the branches of a 100? 200? (ish) year old Red Oak, I couldn’t help but take in a deep breath. There was something about touching the bark of the upper boughs that I will never touch again, with a view I will never see again; I was indeed moved.

Really, get to know a tree like this and you’ll get just as cheesy. I can see why these guys do this for a living—who knew you could get away from it all, just by going up!

My climb was just scratching the surface of what PTCI can do. They host overnight trips, where you actually sleep in a hammock 250 feet above ground Never Never Land style, and are served organic breakfasts and dinners made in an outdoor kitchen. (Not a trip where you’d want to forget the fork.)

Thanks again for taking us up there Nick, Rob, Jason, Debbie, Katie, and Jesse. We all had a blast!

Planting site tour to show off Camas Lilies

The sensitive 3-Creeks natural area is hidden in Clackamas behind the North Clackamas Aquatic Park. (
The Great Camas flower. (

When was the last time you saw a Camas Lily?

Join longtime Friends of Trees volunteer and former staffer Chris Runyard for a tour of the 3-Creeks wetland area in Clackamas Sunday and view the beautiful flowers in full bloom.

The tour—from 1-4 p.m.—will also include guided discovery of old growth White Oak, newly established Friends of Trees planting sites, birds, bees, butterflies, and Mt. Scott Creek, which is still home to Coho, Steelhead and Cutthroat.

Meet at the North Clackamas Aquatic Park parking lot at 7300 SE Harmony Road and remember to bring suitable clothes and footwear that can get wet, and a snack and some water.

As recently as 2006, Friends of Trees’ Green Space Initiative program partnered with Water Environment Services and The Tsunami Crew, the official steward group of the 3-Creeks Natural Area, to plant native trees ans shrubs in the area.

If you have any questions, email Runyard at [email protected].

–Toshio Suzuki