Just read in the paper this morning that Phoenix has adopted a master plan to blanket the city in shade. A combination of "shade engineering" through architectural design, and the planting of more trees, with the objective to have 30 percent of the entire city under canopies of shade by the year 2030. I think its a grand idea. Too often trees have been employed to be decorative rather than for the purpose that nature intended. Too damn many trees pruned into insignificance because they might require too much maintenance. The fallacy of that notion is gloriously evident along Central Avenue in Phoenix. Along that lovely corridor stands thousands of majestic trees, planted long before air conditioning was in mode, and grown to bring shade and coolness to a harsh desert environment.
So, I'm glad our city masters are finally getting smart....and copying me.
When I first moved into my Arizona home in 2004 there were no trees in my yard. The previous owners had been miserly, not wanting to spare a drop of water in exchange for a bit of shade. So, in those early days I'd look out at my back yard and the sun would be baking the gravel strewn barrenness of back yard.
My first attempt at horticulture was met in failure. Each time I planted a hopeful sapling the rabbits would gather and chew them up. I then put up a six food block fence surrounding my back yard, and began again.
I first planted a small lemon tree that we had transported from San Diego. Next came a grapefruit tree, then a Chinese Elm. I planted a Bottle Brush over near the northeast corner of the house, and a Palo Verde tree out on the far corner of the yard. After Christmas of that first year I gathered up my little 1-gallon Christmas pine and planted it in the center of my yard. That little one foot Christmas pine stands a majestic thirty feet high, standing proud out there. Over the years I've added more trees....an Ash tree that now grows fifty feet towards the skies and almost scares me with its loftiness.
Along my back yard fence several pink and white Oleander and Yellow Bells lend color to my backyard panorama, and, outside my bedroom window stand Asian Jasmine and Night Scent whose sweet blossoms send a bit of heaven into my bedroom in spring and fall.
In the front yard stands an orange tree and a hearty Mandarin Orange tree that yields tons of sweet fruit each year. More colorful, drought tolerant bushes sit in soldiery splendor down the side of the house.
So, in addition to having a grander landscape, I harvest my lemons and grapefruit and oranges and Mandarins, and, year around, I am given shade and something lovely to look at. And, really all of these families of nature's wonders don't ask for much...in the summer a deep watering every ten days (which always prompts a gathering of bird families who take a bath and a sip of water beneath them) and once a month during the winter. Some of those plantings, such as the Yellow Bell and Oleander, need only an occasion monsoon rain to thrive.
So, "good on you, Phoenix"..glad to see you're smartening up! I could not say anything more lovely about trees than what Joyce Kilmer said a hundred years ago: