Decorative plum trees planted on the half-mile Roseway Parkway (Northeast 72nd Avenue between Northeast Prescott and Fremont streets) more than half a century ago are reaching the end of their urban lifespan, prompting about 50 neighborhood residents to turn out in mid-March to plant almost two dozen trees that would last much longer. The March 12th event was a collaboration between Portland Parks and Recreation’s Urban Forestry and the Roseway Neighborhood Tree Team, according to Catherine Clark, one of the event organizers.
“Urban Forestry and the Tree Team worked together to create the plan over the past year,” Clark said, “and we began last week by removing nine diseased or dead trees to make room for the 23 new trees we’re planning today.” The trees were planted in Northeast 72nd Avenue’s median greenway between Northeast Beech and Failing streets.
As neighbors gathered, PP&R Urban Forestry Consultant Jim Gersvach walked the 440-foot block, checking the tags on trees that had been placed by each of the holes dug earlier by PP&R staff.
“What we’re looking to do is diversify the trees here with trees that will live for more than a century,” Gersvach said, “so, instead of 100-percent deciduous trees, we’re planting a mix of blue and green foliage sequoia, gingko, purple catalpa, crepe myrtles and several varieties of evergreen oak.” In addition to lasting longer and giving the urban tree canopy more color throughout the year, the new trees will soak up more rainwater, not only through the root system, but also by keeping rain from ever reaching the ground, holding it in the larger tree branches, Gersvach explained. In addition to protecting soil and sewers from excess runoff, trees like gingkos are also resistant to air pollution, he added.
Residents then gathered around a six-foot-tall Quercus Virginiana, Southern Live Oak, for a clinic in planting procedures. PP&R Horticulturist Debra Kneeshaw pointed out that, unlike most evergreens which have needles, the Southern Live Oak is a broadleaf evergreen, a species of tree sometimes known to live 400 to 500 years. Kneeshaw demonstrated the way to test each tree hole for proper depth and how to position the tree. “When you see that one side of a tree is fuller,” Kneeshaw said, “turn that side to the north to allow the southern sun to help the tree fill out more evenly.”
After the initial planting lesson and tips on safety (always wear a hard hat when pounding tree support stakes), neighbors broke into teams of three to five, the youngsters assisting with smaller tools PP&R provided. Members of the Roseway Tree Team said they will work with PP&R Urban Forestry to continue planning for plantings on the remaining four Parkway blocks in the future. The city and neighbors have worked out a maintenance schedule for care of the entire half-mile Parkway. Madison High School’s Boys Soccer Team will assist with the year-round grass cutting.