To The Editor:

As people have said how much they enjoyed the poetry about palm trees that I sent out over the summer as part of our effort to preserve palm tree streetscapes on several Santa Monica streets, here is more poetry from various authors about palm trees.

•     As the palm-tree standeth so straight and so tall,
The more the hail beats, and the more the rains fall.

•     Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Annie of Tharaw; translation from the German of Simon Dach, line 11.

•     First the high palme-trees, with braunches faire,
Out of the lowly vallies did arise,
And high shoote up their heads into the skyes.
•     Edmund Spenser, Virgil’s Gnat, line 191.

•     Next to thee, O fair gazelle,
O Beddowee girl, beloved so well;

Next to the fearless Nedjidee,
Whose fleetness shall bear me again to thee;

Next to ye both I love the Palm,
With his leaves of beauty, his fruit of balm;

Next to ye both I love the Tree
Whose fluttering shadow wraps us three
With love, and silence, and mystery!
•     Bayard Taylor, The Arab to the Palm.

•     Of threads of palm was the carpet spun
Whereon he kneels when the day is done,
And the foreheads of Islam are bowed as one!

To him the palm is a gift divine,
Wherein all uses of man combine,—
House and raiment and food and wine!

And, in the hour of his great release,
His need of the palms shall only cease
With the shroud wherein he lieth in peace.

“Allah il Allah!” he sings his psalm,
On the Indian Sea, by the isles of balm;
“Thanks to Allah, who gives the palm!”
•     John Greenleaf Whittier, The Palm-Tree.

I know you share my passion for palm trees – their grace, their beauty, and their ability (paraphrasing Melissa Papp-Green’s young son who spoke so eloquently at the task force meeting) “to lift our eyes up to the stars, to lift our spirits above the crowded details of our lives”.

I note on the most recent replacement tree grid from the task force that Marguerita Street from 17th to 22nd now shows that palms are to replace existing palms and camphors are to replace existing broad-leaf trees/camphors as they die off. This plan seems to ignore the fact that most of the street is still lined with palms today, and the replacement broadleaf/camphor trees that have been planted have damaged the beauty and integrity of the Palm Tree allee looking east towards the mountains. Far better to replace those broadleaf/camphor trees, as they die off, with palm trees as well in order to restore the beautiful streetscape.

Regarding the palms in Palisades Park,  I have since learned that the Landmarks Commission, with input from the Recreation and Parks Commission, will require a certificate of appropriateness for any palms that die and need to be replaced with a new palm species in the park. One of the palm tree species planted in recent years to replace dying Indian Date Palms, the Royal Palm (Roystonia regia), did not do well. They since have been replaced with the Woodvetchia Palm (Woodvetchia spp.), see photo.

Woodvetchia Palm

I know many of us would consider the Woodvetchia palm a relatively poor aesthetic substitute for the Canary Island Date Palm – the palm fronds are not nearly as elegant as those of the Canary Island Date Palm.  Thus, I would encourage the city to also consider Jubaea chilensis, the Chilean Wine Palm, as a replacement tree, as that variety is now listed as a replacement for the Canary Island Date Palm in other areas of the city and much more closely resembles the Canary Island Date Palm. (See photo, top.)

Thanks for listening.
Russ and Barbara Whittenburg
Santa Monica

One comment

  1. Plant Royal Palms more inland, where it is hotter in the day and much more suited climate for them. The only good thing about coast for the RP are the warmer nights and more moisture because of the marine layer. And more pretty for beachgoers!

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