Hi folks! I’m new here, as of tonight, but it already occurs to me that this might be the place for an idea I’ve been toying with. I’ve done minor carpentry-like woodworking since high school (31 now), but in the last 2 years, I’ve finally been able to rent a house with a detached 1-car garage in LA. Thus began my meteoric rise to choking myself out of said garage with tools and lumber acquisitions :)
Late last year, it occurred to me to wonder what the trees the woods I was using looked like. Suddenly I was getting into dendrology. I’d be at my day job all day, in my shop after that until I thought the neighbors couldn’t take the noise anymore, and then inside reading up on, and investing everything about trees, from leaf types, to grain nomenclature, and I’m positively swimming now with jargon, like “Janka Hardness Scale,” and “pith fleck.” I’ve been reading so much each night, and learning so much so rapidly, that I’ve needed to cool it a bit, just to be able to retain any of it. My brain isn’t keeping up!
When I went to visit my parents in our deep-in-the-woods home in NJ this past holiday season, I used the opportunity to finally go out and photograph the trees, and asked everyone at home who wandered too close what they knew about the trees, as I knew nothing at all. Surprisingly, almost everyone had something to contribute, so I learned a lot about swamp maples, black and white oaks, cypress, sycamore, and a handful of others. I also shipped a few logs from our wood pile, made from our trees, back to me, and some were nicely spalted! I miss home more than ever now :) I didn’t realize my dad’s old 2-acre lot had 40 trees, and nearly as many varieties, and I grew up there! He knew what they all were, and drew me a map (the house was sold a few years back).
Now I live in LA, and had been cursing that I’ve ended up here with no trees that I can go fell without anyone noticing, as we could in the 35 acres of forest back home, without making a dent. Then I realized something… LA is incredibly diverse in its flora, unlike home where there are maybe 20 tree types. Once I started noticing, I found that just my neighborhood has hundreds of species. It’s all imported – we’re a desert – so everyone has whatever they liked out of landscaping books, and the list is enormous. Lemon scented gums, japanese evergreen pears, giant weeping figs, and on and on. And every now and then they ARE felled, and then people have to figure out what to do with them. My officemate has already promised me more rubber tree than I can handle in my hatchback. It’s over 36” wide at its base, and the internet tells me it’s a decent furniture wood. Fun! I’m also keen to hit up tree doctors in the area, bumming for scraps from any and every variety in the county, perfect for my tiny shop.
Anyway, I’ve been thinking it would be fun to start a blog, wherein I go out and pick a new tree now and then, document everything in pictures (bark, base, full shot, leaves/twigs, any fruit/cones/anomalies, etc., and see if anyone out there would help me track down what it was. Is this something folks here would be into? I see that I can add blogs to series (this site keeps getting cooler and cooler), so I’ve preemptively started a Tree ID series for this reason. I think it would take a long time to find as many potentially interested parties as may be here already, and this way, I don’t have to get blogging software sorted myself.
Also, though I would post a few pics here anyway, is it considered foul-play to also link from here to a more image-based site, like Flickr, for the big, and very high-res image dumps (12 megapixel)? As an example, here's a tree I was really excited to finally identify in the parking lot at work last week. They’re all around the neighborhood, and so pretty, if pruned tremendously. All of the surrounding neighborhood is like a crossword puzzle now, and just driving to and from work takes me past maybe 150 species, almost all of which I don’t yet know anything about. How exciting!
-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator