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king palm (pseudo-) stree tree in Fairfield, California 10 years ago


Yunder Wækraus

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10 years ago today, when were living west (= north) of 80 in Fairfield, I discovered a king palm planted as a sort of street tree. It wasn't the only king palm in Farifield at the time: a house on the hill behind ours had one growing against the structure, and we had a small one planted against our house. This, however, remains the most northern and inland king palm I ever saw in California that was unprotected and out in the open by a street.

I can't remember the street name, but it was a newish (certainly post-1980s) neighborhood at a slightly higher elevation than mine (not more than a mile from our house on Greenfield). I wonder if it's still standing

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3 hours ago, Yunder Wækraus said:

10 years ago today, when were living west (= north) of 80 in Fairfield, I discovered a king palm planted as a sort of street tree. It wasn't the only king palm in Farifield at the time: a house on the hill behind ours had one growing against the structure, and we had a small one planted against our house. This, however, remains the most northern and inland king palm I ever saw in California that was unprotected and out in the open by a street.

I can't remember the street name, but it was a newish (certainly post-1980s) neighborhood at a slightly higher elevation than mine (not more than a mile from our house on Greenfield). I wonder if it's still standing

. No photo description available.

If you know the address, we can look it up on Google's street view. 

Looks like they planted it with drainage in mind? Probably didn't do the best, in that case. 

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53 minutes ago, BayAndroid said:

If you know the address, we can look it up on Google's street view. 

Looks like they planted it with drainage in mind? Probably didn't do the best, in that case. 

I wish I could remember! It was 10 years ago to the day when I snapped this photo. I'm pretty sure it was one of the streets in this screen shot:

Screenshot 2023-11-08 at 2.10.40 PM.png

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I had a quick look and found it! it's not showing in the Google Street View archives for 2011, but appears in 2019 and 2022.

A bit up the hill, another neighbour planted a few small Archontophoenix circa 2011 all around the house and have been growing steadily, see here for 2022. In the same street I can also see a Ravenea and not far Wodyetia, one already dead. 

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iko.

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Being up on a hill, this definitely helps with the low temperatures. I wonder what the lows typically are here. I wouldn't be surprised if they're similar to mine, since I'm at the base of a hill, lots of cold air drainage. 

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14 hours ago, iko. said:

I had a quick look and found it! it's not showing in the Google Street View archives for 2011, but appears in 2019 and 2022.

A bit up the hill, another neighbour planted a few small Archontophoenix circa 2011 all around the house and have been growing steadily, see here for 2022. In the same street I can also see a Ravenea and not far Wodyetia, one already dead. 

Wow!

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5 hours ago, BayAndroid said:

Being up on a hill, this definitely helps with the low temperatures. I wonder what the lows typically are here. I wouldn't be surprised if they're similar to mine, since I'm at the base of a hill, lots of cold air drainage. 

We lived on Greenfield (a little lower elevation from the above king palm). We owned the house from 2012-2015. I planted a bunchy of (sub)tropicals, including a silk floss tree, a jacaranda, king palms, passion fruit, giant bird of paradise. We got hit by a massive freeze, which came within a hair's breadth of killing my silk floss tree. It turned out that we had a cold sink that traveled down the street and pooled in front of our house. We could actually track its height and movement because completely exposed bougainvillea were incompletely killed: sections were green, and others were cooked by frost. However, even on my street (and downhill, slightly, of me), there were untouched giant bird of paradise. I've been back to my old property twice since we moved out in 2015, once in 2017 and once in 2019, and the silk floss tree was doing great as was the jacaranda. (The new owners had removed the king palms and passion fruit, sadly.) In short, the hills of Fairfield are probably as close to an inland SoCal climate as you're likely to get in urban Northern California. 

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2 minutes ago, Yunder Wækraus said:

We lived on Greenfield (a little lower elevation from the above king palm). We owned the house from 2012-2015. I planted a bunchy of (sub)tropicals, including a silk floss tree, a jacaranda, king palms, passion fruit, giant bird of paradise. We got hit by a massive freeze, which came within a hair's breadth of killing my silk floss tree. It turned out that we had a cold sink that traveled down the street and pooled in front of our house. We could actually track its height and movement because completely exposed bougainvillea were incompletely killed: sections were green, and others were cooked by frost. However, even on my street (and downhill, slightly, of me), there were untouched giant bird of paradise. I've been back to my old property twice since we moved out in 2015, once in 2017 and once in 2019, and the silk floss tree was doing great as was the jacaranda. (The new owners had removed the king palms and passion fruit, sadly.) In short, the hills of Fairfield are probably as close to an inland SoCal climate as you're likely to get in urban Northern California. 

I've been watching the hills surrounding my home on the peninsula. One area where I see the best microclimate appears to be San Carlos. When I was getting temperatures down to 27 last winter, one of the lows I saw at a weather station I watch consistently was 41, in the hills of San Carlos. Similar lows were recorded in the Emerald Hills area and Farm Hill area.  

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56 minutes ago, BayAndroid said:

I've been watching the hills surrounding my home on the peninsula. One area where I see the best microclimate appears to be San Carlos. When I was getting temperatures down to 27 last winter, one of the lows I saw at a weather station I watch consistently was 41, in the hills of San Carlos. Similar lows were recorded in the Emerald Hills area and Farm Hill area.  

Yeah, your area is amazing. My dad worked in San Mateo in the 1980s; he'd spend M-F in an apartment there with my uncle and come home on the weekends (we were in the Central Valley at the time). Sometimes we'd go to him instead, and I it always seemed like the weather was perfect. When we moved to Fairfield, we would drive down to San Mateo to go to Talbots or cross over the peninsula to the ocean. It always felt nicer than SF or Berkeley (where we lived 2002-2005). My brother-in-law lived in Sunnyvale at the time, and I'm pretty sure I saw silk floss trees as street trees somewhere in or near his neighborhood.

The Fairfield hills are a hidden gem, though: they're more affordable (relatively speaking) than comparable climates in the South Bay or Marin, etc., and they have plenty of summer heat (just a hair cooler than the Central Valley, but get more annual rainfall that the San Joaquin Valley or SoCal. If you get he right spot in those hills, you can pretty much grow anything that grows in the South Bay, and arguably you get more summer sun and heat to really help certain tropicals prepare for a few months of cold and gloom. If I could have afforded a larger property a little uphill of our old one, I believe I could have put in a magnificent tropical garden. The problem with the Fairfield hills is the attitude of the people: they'd rather replicate Iowa than lean into their actual climate. Every single home could be covered in bougainvillea (mine grew so prolifically that I had reduce them by about 50% in the middle of each year), and bird of paradise, jacaranda, even passion fruit vines (my vine survived and bloomed, but I never had quite enough heat in the protected spot it was planted to make sweet fruit). Nice-looking queen palms are fairly common, and I do like those (a pair I planted in our old house still stand), but that's not saying much. I really wish someone would invest in the future and plant Chilean wine palms as street trees all over Solano County :)

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1 hour ago, Yunder Wækraus said:

Wow!

 

15 hours ago, iko. said:

I had a quick look and found it! it's not showing in the Google Street View archives for 2011, but appears in 2019 and 2022.

A bit up the hill, another neighbour planted a few small Archontophoenix circa 2011 all around the house and have been growing steadily, see here for 2022. In the same street I can also see a Ravenea and not far Wodyetia, one already dead. 

I just looked at the image. I remember that house, so that's definitely the spot! I'm surprised to see it hasn't grown much. Do you think it's been replanted in the past 10 years, or do you think the winters knock it back so badly that it never quite makes headway?

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50 minutes ago, Yunder Wækraus said:

Yeah, your area is amazing. My dad worked in San Mateo in the 1980s; he'd spend M-F in an apartment there with my uncle and come home on the weekends (we were in the Central Valley at the time). Sometimes we'd go to him instead, and I it always seemed like the weather was perfect. When we moved to Fairfield, we would drive down to San Mateo to go to Talbots or cross over the peninsula to the ocean. It always felt nicer than SF or Berkeley (where we lived 2002-2005). My brother-in-law lived in Sunnyvale at the time, and I'm pretty sure I saw silk floss trees as street trees somewhere in or near his neighborhood.

The Fairfield hills are a hidden gem, though: they're more affordable (relatively speaking) than comparable climates in the South Bay or Marin, etc., and they have plenty of summer heat (just a hair cooler than the Central Valley, but get more annual rainfall that the San Joaquin Valley or SoCal. If you get he right spot in those hills, you can pretty much grow anything that grows in the South Bay, and arguably you get more summer sun and heat to really help certain tropicals prepare for a few months of cold and gloom. If I could have afforded a larger property a little uphill of our old one, I believe I could have put in a magnificent tropical garden. The problem with the Fairfield hills is the attitude of the people: they'd rather replicate Iowa than lean into their actual climate. Every single home could be covered in bougainvillea (mine grew so prolifically that I had reduce them by about 50% in the middle of each year), and bird of paradise, jacaranda, even passion fruit vines (my vine survived and bloomed, but I never had quite enough heat in the protected spot it was planted to make sweet fruit). Nice-looking queen palms are fairly common, and I do like those (a pair I planted in our old house still stand), but that's not saying much. I really wish someone would invest in the future and plant Chilean wine palms as street trees all over Solano County :)

From what i remember, the Floss Silk in that area have been around since -at least- the early 90s.  Not " common " but there are Queensland Bottle trees, and a couple different sps.of Erythrina in neighborhoods up there as well. Gold Medallion Trees have popped up in certain spots up that way more recently as well.

 Grandparents had Passionfruit growing against an east facing fence 15-20ft away from the west side of their house that got ..maybe a couple hours of direct sun.. for -at least- 25 years in S.W. San Jose. Fruit ( their vines produced tons each year ) were always sweet.  Grew some from seed off theirs at a house we were in less than a block away against a north facing fence and got the same results. 

The " stuck on boring / temperate stuff " has been the attitude of many -throughout the bay area- since...forever, lol..  My extended family were among the " rebels " whose yards contained stuff  like Bird of Paradise, various orchids -outdoors- hardier gingers, etc.. There was also an old Avocado grove in my neighborhood in the 80s.  In more recent times, overall, i'd notice more " exotic " stuff in the newer neighborhoods i watched get built on the southeast side of town..  esp. roughly south of Alum Rock Ave ( HWY 130 ) and east of the 101. 

 

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2 hours ago, Yunder Wækraus said:

Yeah, your area is amazing. My dad worked in San Mateo in the 1980s; he'd spend M-F in an apartment there with my uncle and come home on the weekends (we were in the Central Valley at the time). Sometimes we'd go to him instead, and I it always seemed like the weather was perfect. When we moved to Fairfield, we would drive down to San Mateo to go to Talbots or cross over the peninsula to the ocean. It always felt nicer than SF or Berkeley (where we lived 2002-2005). My brother-in-law lived in Sunnyvale at the time, and I'm pretty sure I saw silk floss trees as street trees somewhere in or near his neighborhood.

The Fairfield hills are a hidden gem, though: they're more affordable (relatively speaking) than comparable climates in the South Bay or Marin, etc., and they have plenty of summer heat (just a hair cooler than the Central Valley, but get more annual rainfall that the San Joaquin Valley or SoCal. If you get he right spot in those hills, you can pretty much grow anything that grows in the South Bay, and arguably you get more summer sun and heat to really help certain tropicals prepare for a few months of cold and gloom. If I could have afforded a larger property a little uphill of our old one, I believe I could have put in a magnificent tropical garden. The problem with the Fairfield hills is the attitude of the people: they'd rather replicate Iowa than lean into their actual climate. Every single home could be covered in bougainvillea (mine grew so prolifically that I had reduce them by about 50% in the middle of each year), and bird of paradise, jacaranda, even passion fruit vines (my vine survived and bloomed, but I never had quite enough heat in the protected spot it was planted to make sweet fruit). Nice-looking queen palms are fairly common, and I do like those (a pair I planted in our old house still stand), but that's not saying much. I really wish someone would invest in the future and plant Chilean wine palms as street trees all over Solano County :)

RIP Talbots...

 

Yeah, there's a lot of very uninspired landscaping in the Bay Area. Seems people just don't want to get out and plant their own garden. That's what it seems like to me, anyway..

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2 hours ago, Silas_Sancona said:

From what i remember, the Floss Silk in that area have been around since -at least- the early 90s.  Not " common " but there are Queensland Bottle trees, and a couple different sps.of Erythrina in neighborhoods up there as well. Gold Medallion Trees have popped up in certain spots up that way more recently as well.

 Grandparents had Passionfruit growing against an east facing fence 15-20ft away from the west side of their house that got ..maybe a couple hours of direct sun.. for -at least- 25 years in S.W. San Jose. Fruit ( their vines produced tons each year ) were always sweet.  Grew some from seed off theirs at a house we were in less than a block away against a north facing fence and got the same results. 

The " stuck on boring / temperate stuff " has been the attitude of many -throughout the bay area- since...forever, lol..  My extended family were among the " rebels " whose yards contained stuff  like Bird of Paradise, various orchids -outdoors- hardier gingers, etc.. There was also an old Avocado grove in my neighborhood in the 80s.  In more recent times, overall, i'd notice more " exotic " stuff in the newer neighborhoods i watched get built on the southeast side of town..  esp. roughly south of Alum Rock Ave ( HWY 130 ) and east of the 101. 

 

Yeah, it's really sad. It's not just the Bay, though, it's the Central Valley, too. If you look at old drawings/photos of Stockton from the 19th century, the folks who lived there were in awe of the temperate climate, and most neighborhoods were festooned with citrus, palms (Washingtonia and CIDP), yuccas, cacti, redwoods, magnolias, and other "exotics" (for East Coast folks). They had almost zero interest in a useless tree that would turn colors for five minutes in November and make a mess on the lawn. Fast forward to the 1940s, and the mood changed. My grandparents moved from SF to Stockton (by way of Reno and Modesto for a few years), and eventually built a home near UOP in 1948. My grandfather filled it with cool plants: loquat, redwood, eucalyptus, lemon, orange, grapefruit, Washingtonia, and even a failed avocado. However, the street trees were already ugly deciduous ones that made a huge mess every fall. As a kid, I'd look at the 90% evergreen trees my grandpa planted and then at the leafless monstrosities on the street and wonder why. I mean, if you're into fall colors, move somewhere that has them naturally!

When I planted my Fairfield yard with tropicals, a friend made of fun of me and said I gardened like a Filipino grandma. When I moved back to FL, where I was born, it was so refreshing to have the whole neighborhood also garden like a Filipino grandma :) I guess people in NorCal aren't as interested in warm-weather plants and that's why they're not in SoCal. Sad :(

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19 hours ago, iko. said:

I had a quick look and found it! it's not showing in the Google Street View archives for 2011, but appears in 2019 and 2022.

A bit up the hill, another neighbour planted a few small Archontophoenix circa 2011 all around the house and have been growing steadily, see here for 2022. In the same street I can also see a Ravenea and not far Wodyetia, one already dead. 

I counted the trunk rings on my original picture from 10 years ago and then those from the image you linked. I know the rings don't equal years, but it looks like there are about 8 on it that can be seen 10 years ago. If you count above that, the rings are very close, which leads me to the following assumptions: (1) The tree I photographed 10 years had only been in situ for 1-3 years, and the great space between the rings was accomplished in a nursery prior to the planting of the tree; (2) the tree has struggled to grow since being placed there, but that might be due to insufficient water and fertilizer as much as a few months of chill each year. My photograph was in November, and freezes are possible then. I'm guessing they don't protect that tree and don't do much to help it thrive either.

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31 minutes ago, Yunder Wækraus said:

I counted the trunk rings on my original picture from 10 years ago and then those from the image you linked. I know the rings don't equal years, but it looks like there are about 8 on it that can be seen 10 years ago. If you count above that, the rings are very close, which leads me to the following assumptions: (1) The tree I photographed 10 years had only been in situ for 1-3 years, and the great space between the rings was accomplished in a nursery prior to the planting of the tree; (2) the tree has struggled to grow since being placed there, but that might be due to insufficient water and fertilizer as much as a few months of chill each year. My photograph was in November, and freezes are possible then. I'm guessing they don't protect that tree and don't do much to help it thrive either.

I'm definitely thinking it's a lack of water. That and I'm sure it could use some fertilizer as well. My king palms put up with the cold but still have decent ring spacing, so that's my thought on it. 

 

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8 hours ago, Yunder Wækraus said:

I just looked at the image. I remember that house, so that's definitely the spot! I'm surprised to see it hasn't grown much. Do you think it's been replanted in the past 10 years, or do you think the winters knock it back so badly that it never quite makes headway?

Hi, I think that Archontophoenix has not established as well as the ones planted around the other house. Maybe it doesn't have a proper draining soil, space to expand the roots, or it was planted already relatively mature compared to the small ones of the neighbour that had more time to grow.

I agree with the dull landscaping of the area and at times, it made me think I was much further inland. I saw lots of yellow Syagrus and deciduous trees. What surprises me the most is how harsher the streets got. If you go to older images, there were more lawns and trees along the street. In the last years, most of those trees have disappeared and many lawns are now covered in rocks. 

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iko.

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16 hours ago, iko. said:

Hi, I think that Archontophoenix has not established as well as the ones planted around the other house. Maybe it doesn't have a proper draining soil, space to expand the roots, or it was planted already relatively mature compared to the small ones of the neighbour that had more time to grow.

I agree with the dull landscaping of the area and at times, it made me think I was much further inland. I saw lots of yellow Syagrus and deciduous trees. What surprises me the most is how harsher the streets got. If you go to older images, there were more lawns and trees along the street. In the last years, most of those trees have disappeared and many lawns are now covered in rocks. 

I forgot to look at the link to the other ones. What a strange image! The juxtaposition of free-standing king palms and fall colors feels very wrong :) Though the fronds on those aren't screaming health, they're honestly not too much worse than my coconut here in the tropics, which is not getting enough water right now. They look decent otherwise, and do show much better growth. I think it probably is a mixture of not enough water in summer and not enough drainage in winter. If I were back in Fairfield (and had a decent-sized property), I'd plant loquat and magnolia trees for a canopy, and plant the king palms and some Tasmanian tree ferns beneath it.

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