GARDENING : CARE, REPLENISHMENT OF TREES A HIGH PRIORITY.
At the end of the 20th century, a sense of loss pervades our view of nature. Children suffer most from this gloomy perspective. At school nowadays, when the subject of trees is introduced, the teacher is sure to mention that our forests are in danger and that, at this very moment, dozens of species of forest plants and animals are disappearing from the face of the Earth forever.
Yet, just when you think this negativity is overdone - and certainly more focus should be placed on the planting and growing of trees than on their destruction - something so bizarre and tragic happens that you wonder if limits to the ecological ignorance and insensitivity of human beings exist.
There is a park in Beverly Hills with an area devoted to lawn bowling. Some time ago, the grass in the bowling area started to turn brown from lack of sun. Over the years, trees in the park had grown to magnificent size and beauty, but they also had begun to block sunlight that once had reached the lawn. The result: several enormous trees were removed so that the lawn bowling grass could get green again.
There has been a loud cry of anguish from park visitors and neighbors who had a long-standing love affair with the trees, which were removed. New trees are going to be planted as replacements. Yet the question remains: how could people be so callous - in this advanced age of arboreal awareness - that they would condemn glorious trees to death, for the sake of keeping some lawn bowling grass green?
The biblical story of John instructs us how to move forward in the wake of this Beverly Hills calamity. God tells Jonah to go to Nineveh and tell the people they're to change their awful behavior. Jonah tries to escape from this mission, fleeing in a ship, but is thrown overboard and swallowed by a big fish. Inside the belly of the fish, Jonah asks for forgiveness, is spewed onto dry land and makes his way to Nineveh. Finally, accepting his mission, he tells the inhabitants there that in 40 days their city will be destroyed.
The inhabitants of Nineveh repent and are saved from destruction. Jonah retires to the outskirts of the city to await further developments. Almost overnight, a kikayon plant (a kind of gourd) grows up over his hut and gives him shade, which he finds delightful. But then the plant dies and Jonah is depressed.
As the story ends, God scolds Jonah: How dare you grieve for a plant that grew up and flourished without any of your help?
Those of us who grieve for the Beverly Hills trees must acknowledge that we did not plant nor care for them, neither did we succeed in properly educating those who chopped them down. The demise of these trees must be a call to action - to plant and care for more trees and to teach other people why old trees should be spared.
This would appear to be a mission from which there is no escape - if we want to preserve the trees around us. Just as Jonah saved Nineveh by finally accepting his prophetic mission, so, too, we will only save the trees by accepting our mission as caretakers of the Earth. It is not enough to be passive admirers of trees; we must grow them ourselves.
Almost every day, it seems, plants are in the news.
Item: EPA classifies pest resistant plants as pesticides?
Under lobbying pressure from chemical companies that manufacture pesticides, genetically engineered pest-resistant plants are being categorized as pesticides. What this means is that the new plants will have to undergo costly regulatory and approval procedures that will discourage their development.
This is not a simple issue. Many environmentalists are also against the development of pest-resistant plants because they do not believe that such plants will be pest-resistant for long. They fear that virulent new strains of pests - insects, bacteria and fungi - will develop and overcome the genetically engineered plants' pest resistance.
Item: Filbert trees cause massive power outage.
According to one report, this summer's serious power outage was started in Oregon when some electrical cables shorted out, after touching filbert trees. When temperatures soar, electrical cables expand and then sag; if they make contact with tree limbs, a power outage may occur.
Most commercial filbert orchards are found in Oregon. When you drive through rural Oregon, you find lots of roadside stands selling hazelnuts (the popular name for filberts).
Filberts are small trees or large shrubs, with minimal maintenance requirements. This may explain the lapse in their pruning.
Gardening tip: According to Theresa Morin, you may be able to grow tomatoes this fall if you can find containerized nursery plants that are 2 or 3 feet tall. After planting, let them go dry almost to the point of wilting; this will stiffen their resistance to cold.
MEMO: Joshua Siskin's column appears every Saturday. He welcomes questions from readers. Write to him in care of the Daily News Features Department, P.O. Box 4200, Woodland Hills, Calif. 91365-4200.
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|Title Annotation:||L.A. LIFE|
|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Sep 28, 1996|
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