Love Those Trees!

by on July 3, 2019 · 4 comments

in Ocean Beach

Lorax tree in Point Loma.

By Kathy Blavatt

Photos by Kathy Blavatt

You know you are headed home to Ocean Beach as you drive toward the bridge from Sea World Drive and see the line of tall palms in the distance.

Placement of trees can make a community’s landscapes iconic. Sadly, we have lost most of the  tall North Island Pines (Star Pines) that once ran along the top of the hill above Ocean Beach and Point Loma. The Monterey Cypress trees which once graced many of the Peninsula’s streets are no more.

Kathy Blavatt’s artistic rendition of the beloved Monterey Cypress “Lorax Tree” in La Jolla.

Unfortunately, in mid-June 2019, the renown Monterey Cypress at San Diego’s Ellen Browning Scripps Park, by La Jolla Cove, had fallen. It was the last of the Monterey Cypress in the grassy park.

This whimsical cypress tree was thought to be the Dr. Seuss’ inspiration for his beloved 1971 children’s book the “Lorax”.

For decades, the odd shaped Monterey Cypress trees in the ocean side La Jolla park sparked the imaginations of park visitors, especially the children… I was one of them!

Luckily, children being introduced to Dr. Seuss’ whimsical trees, can know a similar Lorax tree still lives in a yard on the Jennings Street alley in Point Loma. A few others still exist but are disappearing quickly.

Torrey Pines at PLHS before they were cut down.

In June, we also lost some other favorite trees at Point Loma High School.

PLHS Trees being removed

The state-of-the-art Media Center at PLHS was being built while I was going to school there 1977. The media center and other school buildings are being removed and replaced, along with many of the beautiful old trees including the school’s Torrey Pines. Unfortunately, progress seems to take a toll on the trees we love we and grew up with.

Trees adds character and beauty to neighborhoods.

Catalina Boulevard’s trees show the beauty the wooded area when the road is closed during a triathlon.

I love trees … I love that our peninsula forefathers and foremothers had the forethought to plant the tens-of-thousands of trees throughout our communities in the first half of the 1900s. D.C. Collier, Kate Sessions, Madame Katherine Tingley, Albert Spalding are just a few of the early pioneer visionaries that saw how trees, green spaces and park were important to neighborhoods. Because of those early “green” visionaries we have our parks, our wooded district and our treelined streets.

Point Loma’s wooded district still has some of its old growth trees such as its famous olive trees and pines that are seen in this photo taken in an alley.

Some people talk about cutting down Palm Trees, because when they look out their window and they only see the bare trunk. I wonder, “Do these people ever look up?” Do they ever see the palms’ silhouette in the sunset? Do you ever see the parrots, owls,  and birds in the palms?

Magnificent sunset shines behind palm silhouettes that line the Point Loma hilltop.

Kate Sessions planted California native and a variety of other palms on our peninsula. Ocean Beach merchants in 1964, raised money to plant the palms along Newport Street.

Palm trees are a part of our history and grow well here. Palm’s root-balls seldom raise or break our sidewalks. Maybe that’s something the city should think about as they pay off lawsuits?

Besides professional landscapers, many residents have a long history of in the art of landscaping and gardening.

Residents join garden clubs, get landscape ideas from garden walks, read garden magazines, and spend money on plants at the nurseries.

People who landscape their property can add creative qualities to their yards by their choices of trees and their placement.

My favorite home use of a tree border is a “Living Fence” planted by Charles Roberts. His house and his next-door neighbor have no fence! The boundary line is shared fruit trees. Every other tree is planted about a foot inside the opposite neighbor’s property line. Branches on the trees grows onto both sides of the property line.

Charles Roberts’ backyard “Living Fence.”

By using a shared fruit tree border neighbors can double the variety of fruit they harvest and have a lovely live fence.

Charles Roberts is an Architect, who stresses environmental home designs, and is a former chair of the Ocean Beach Planning Board. Some of the innovational ideas he comes up with can be very complex, yet other can be very simple and brilliant.

Beyond being an architect, Charles has a background in woodworking. Woodworking is a passion that runs in his family. Charles’s dad, Roy Roberts, is one of the finest woodworkers I have met. Over the last decade his dad has made some of the most beautiful artistic wood bowls I have ever seen. His craftsmanship, and attention to details, is pure perfection.

Roy Robert’s bowl he made as a tribute to the Saratoga Torrey Pine that was cut down by the city.

Roy specializes in old wood from trees people have cut down. He heard my sad tale of the day two of the historic Saratoga Avenue Ocean Beach Torrey Pines had been cut down by the city.  He volunteered to make me a bowl from a piece of branch I had recued from of the O.B. Torrey. The lovely bowl Roy made has been displayed and used to collect donations at some of the Ocean Beach Historical Society events. Several times the bowl was displayed with a poem I wrote “Your Green Canopies We Will Miss,” about the O.B. Torrey’s on the day they were cut down.  The poem was featured in the “OB RAG.”

Another slice of the Torrey, with the poem, is displayed at the Ocean Beach Green Center.

Many San Diegans are concerned about losing our trees. The San Diego Regional Urban Forests is making strides in programs that promote Healthy Trees for Healthy Neighborhoods!

The program seems to be taking a page from the landscape planners of past generations. They are thinking about “How do you envision your neighborhood, in 25 years?”

If they do a good job future generations may have the enjoyment of having nearly century old trees lining the streets, just as we have had in Ocean Beach and Point Loma.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Missing trees July 3, 2019 at 2:55 pm

Anyone know what happened to the three trees on bacon in between Santa Monica and Newport? All that remains are three large stumps :(


Missing trees July 3, 2019 at 2:57 pm


Anyone know what happened to the three trees on CABLE in between Santa Monica and Newport? All that remains are three large stumps :(


Jon July 12, 2019 at 11:46 am

I was wondering the same thing. Looks like the trees from Union Bank south to where the Joint patio ends have all been removed, cut down to the stump. Bummer.


Muir Avenue Ale July 12, 2019 at 9:13 am

Really enjoyed reading this. One thing I’ve always admired about OB is the people who are so knowledgeable and comitted to defending our trees. Had no idea of the local connection to the Lorax. Would love to see more of Roy’s work.


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