Greenius Plants Tree to Help Restore Hope

The Greenius with his friend and fellow volunteer, Charles, getting ready to dig and plant.

Man, I can’t believe it’s been over a month now since I wrote in this space about the vandals who destroyed the trees and native plants at Ken Malloy Harbor Regional Park over Thanksgiving. But time has afterburners when the holidays roll around especially when your friendly neighborhood Greenius is in such demand locally. It’s a blessing to be sure, but things fall through the cracks, as witness my update on, as Paul Harvey used to intone, “the rest of the story…”

The good new is, it’s actually good news for a change.  Very good news indeed.

Following my blog post in December and my Facebook posts I immediately heard from three of my best green friends, Kaaren Lee Brown, Sona Kalapura and Lilly Fabri.
I wasn’t surprised that it was three women reaching out since the majority of the most caring and most action oriented people I’ve worked with over the years have all been women. Each of them pledged money and two of them were able to pledge their time to volunteer and just like that we raised 200 bucks to donate to Martin Byhower, the Chadwick School teacher who had personally paid $300-$400 out of his own pocket to pay for the original trees and plants that had been obliterated by the braindead knuckleheads who perpetrated the dastardly deed.  Lilly even brought her friend Charles to help.
Charles working, Lilly supervising.
After someone passed on my December blog post to him, Martin  reached out to me to let me know when he’d be back at the park to plant new trees and native plants and so it was that on December 10 I met him, Sona, Lilly and about two dozen high school kids at the park I had never visited before despite driving past it for the last 20 years.
Martin Byhower in his element working with the kids.

I showed up with my shovel, work gloves and orange 5 gallon bucket and after introductions and instructions was put to work digging a deep hole for the large native oak tree sapling I was assigned to plant.  It was one of five oak saplings donated by the city.  I learned to dig the hole deep enough for the entire root ball and how to get the tree and rootball out of the five gallon container it was growing in.  

Greenius digging a hole for his tree
Martin Byhower, kneeling, gives the Greenius a quick lesson on planting the oak trees, which are on a bluff overlooking Ken Malloy Regional Park.
Martin Byhower helping to stake one of the oak trees

Once I got my tree in and covered it with dirt other volunteers hand carried over several buckets of mulch to protect the new planting, block the weeds and help retain moisture.  We then used another bucket brigade to water the tree, employing the backside of the shovel to divert and spread the water around the base of the tree.

After each of  the trees was planted other student volunteers pounded in six foot high heavy wooden stakes to tie the tree to and give it support while it grows.  The energy and enthusiasm of Martin’s volunteer army gave me renewed energy and enthusiasm – not to mention a better feeling about the younger generations we’re leaving our spoiled climate to.  They weren’t there to goof off or just get school credit for the work they were doing, they were there to accomplish something they took seriously.

While I and the other tree people planted the native oak saplings the other half of the group spread out across the hillside to plant wildflower seeds and young drought tolerant california native plants.

Thriving native plants planted over the year by Byhower and his volunteers

In addition to the work we did that day I got to see the results of the plantings Martin and his revolving team of  young student and community volunteers have been doing over the many years he’s adopted Harbor Regional Park as his own.  The transformation is nothing short of remarkable and just goes to show what passionate, dedicated people, even in relatively small numbers can accomplish when they put in the time and persevere.

The view of the refinery looking in the other direction.

The really amazing thing about Ken Malloy Harbor Regional Park is its proximity to the ugly refineries of Wilmington.  Look in one direction and you see one possible future with the native plantings and the lake with beautiful herons, egrets, ducks and other wildlife.  But turn around and look the other way and it looks like something out of John Carpenter’s Escape from Los Angeles.  

If we’re lucky, some day soon the refinery will be gone and will be reclaimed with the same kind of native plantings Martin Byhower and his volunteers are diligently transforming the park with.

Three of the five trees planted ready to spread their roots and reach for the sky

And if we’re really lucky karma will deal harshly with the vandals who wrecked havoc on the Thanksgiving week plantings and they will develop a stinging, itching rash that no salve or ointment will ever relieve.  A Greenius can dream, can’t he?

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