More Tree Hugging Debate

in Miami?

A renaissance is under way on Biscayne Boulevard, the central artery of downtown Miami, where derelict motels and strip malls are being tenderly restored and scruffy neighborhoods are striving for cachet. But a defining element is about to vanish: the royal palm trees that have lined the street for decades, making clear that this is not Hartford or Detroit, but the otherworldly subtropics.
Along several miles of the street, the tall, trim royals are being replaced with bushier live oaks, which planners say will provide much-needed shade and beautify the heavily traveled street.
…Most palm trees withstood the high winds of Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma, making their dwindling popularity all the more puzzling. Some private landowners, like Skip Stoltz, a developer in Palm Beach County, are planting only palms after losing dozens of hardwood trees in the storms.

If they remake ‘Miami Vice’ five years from now, the opening credits’re going to look peculiar.

Whatever they decide, I hope it’s not as half-a$$ed as the remake of our downtown here in Bangla-cola. They had a magical, graceful canopy of mature crepe myrtles that were like a lacy frame for the historical storefronts. Then they decided to tear up the sidewalk. Out came the trees (And three quarters of the businesses ~ urban planning strikes again.), to be replaced by an oak here and a spindley maple there, with an ‘i-got-no-idea-what-it-is’ in between. It looks like a mish-mash, ‘whatever was cheapest at the nursery that day’ crap ~ there’s absolutely no coherency to the street anymore. And all those different twigs are going to grow at different rates and into different shapes. Blech. Anyway, maybe Miami won’t be so boneheaded. ( I know a guy who loves bulldozing trees if it turns out badly.)

5 Responses to “More Tree Hugging Debate”

  1. Oh God, the people in my home town are such goddamn idiots. Live oaks are an effing dime a dozen, but the palm trees on Biscayne were one of the few distinctive “iconic” touches of what was becoming an increasingly bland, undistinguished, character-drained town. Full disclosure: I don’t even like palm trees — they rattle like castanets in the slightest breeze, when their fronds drop they can dent the hood of a car, the don’t give any shade, and they are infested with roaches — but the royal palms were at least interesting. And they hadn’t even succumbed to yellowing disease (which killed off most of the coconut palms). There was nothing wrong with them, they were a distinctive part of the city and had been for decades… So of course they have to go. No wonder the last few years I lived in Miami I started grinding my teeth in my sleep.

  2. Nightfly says:

    Oh, and in a bad storm, those oaks are coming down.
    I understand the premise, because Mom’s area of Florida (Broward County) had a big arboreal push a few years ago – there was no cover, lawns were dying unless they were watered constantly, which left the county in a near-drought all the time. It was impossible to go out for more than five minutes. The sun felt like it was sitting just over the rooftops; you could actually feel the heat hitting you, as if you’d opened an oven door.
    It seemed to be working, but of course Katrina, Wilma, and all their cousins have hurt things. My mom started with three trees and now has none, although thankfully none of them landed on the house when they went over.

  3. This ‘it’s hot outside’ concept just kills me. Hello? It’s the TROPICS… I remember Old Gramma’s place in Miami Shores. Nuthin’ but coconut palms on the street and avocado or gum trees on the property. We also didn’t have air-conditioning, so the houses were built in what I can only call a Bermuda-style. Stucco or stone outside, tile roofs, plaster inside and clear breeze paths from front to back. Everything slick and painted white for maximum sun reflection and air movement. The only break we got was when the afternoon 20 minute shower/thunderstorm blew through ~ that five minutes of coolness afterward was heavenly.

  4. Nightfly says:

    Yes, Sis, of course it’s hot out. But Mom’s lived in So-Fla for 13 years and counting, and her parents for twice that. I’ve been there several times, including summer, and without A/C. About three or four years ago, it was the worst. I’m not just talking hot, I’m talking about feeling your skin prickling under your t-shirt. I never burn, but I peeled after that week, despite everything I tried while I was there. The sun was turned to eleven. There was just no shade cover anywhere, which meant direct exposure to the light and not just the heat. Everyone’s lawn featured pits of sand where the grass had died off.
    I mean, I can only speak of what I see…

  5. Well that’s Broward County for you. They cut down all the trees to fit in the maximum number of condos. Trees take up valuable real estate, doncha know?
    I grew up in Miami with no a/c too. We had an old Boomer house, built in the twenties, and a huge old tropical tree in the front yard — not a native, something called a pongam, which has very oily wood, so it is very limber. I remember the tree just whipping around like a blender in storms when I was a kid, but we never lost more than a few twigs. The avocado tree we had in the back yard blew down in a hurricane in the 60s though. My father deliberately moved to the neighborhood we were in, called Silver Bluff, because it was on what passes for high ground in Miami — it’s on one of the fossilized coral ridges that lift the old part of the city above the swamp and bay. The house later succumbed to termites, though.

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