What’s the first thing you think of when I say Humboldt? If you’re from California you could be thinking of the county, college, bay, fort, state park or wildlife refuge. If you’re from Nevada you might think of the river, the national forest, wildlife area, sink, saltmarsh, lake, mountain ranges, county or creepy ghost town. Dewy-Humboldt in Arizona, Humboldt Illinois, Humboldt Kansas, Humboldt Iowa, Humboldt Ohio, Humboldt Wisconsin, Humboldt Saskatchewan, it’s hard to escape Humboldt. Humboldt is everywhere. The Humboldt name graces multiple mountains and mountain ranges, forests, national parks, waterfalls, glaciers, an ocean current. and a giant sinkhole Animals and plants including, penguins, squid, bat, monkey(s), skunk, snail, an entire genus of flowering plants, legumes, endangered cactus, a beetle, river dolphins, a carnivorous plant, oak, orchid, lily and mushroom all bear his name. Humboldt is in outer space, the Mare Humboldt on the moon and two asteroids bear the name. That doesn’t even touch the organizations, institutions, monuments and other random things that are all called Humboldt.
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Welcome back to the Our City Forest blog. If you’ve been following our posts on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit or Instagram you’re probably aware that there are Big Things(TM) happening at our Community Nursery. Chief among them is the Earth Day-adjacent Spring Plant Sale this Saturday but there are other things planned, including workshops, lectures, and educational stuff for kids. In spite of the ongoing avalanche of activity at the Community Nursery, most people don’t seem to understand what it is. Legitimately, people are confused. Thankfully, you have me to ride in on a white horse with an explanation and jaunty smile. Here’s everything you need to know about the Community Nursery.
I have a lot of memories tied up in the sensoria of real holiday trees. The smell of pine evokes sap on my fingers. The feel of spruce in my hands puts me back in New England with November snow crunching under my boots as I pick around half-buried stumps, the smell of gasoline and sound of chainsaws. Memories beget more memories. Harry Connick Jr croons out of the stereo while dad untangles strings of lights. Mom corrals us as my siblings and I tear through the boxes of ornaments to find our favorites. My brother’s, a firefighter dog with a Christmas present. Mine was a chimpanzee Santa with a sleigh of bananas.
There’s a growing anti-lawn sentiment in the drought-stricken West. Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and California each have programs in place to pay homeowners to replace lawns with xeriscaping (drought-tolerant landscapes). I’d heard of these programs when I lived in New York. Driving through trackless desert, salt flats and blonde, high-plains I couldn’t help but wonder how we ever thought to impose lawns on these landscapes in the first place. Where did lawns come from?
When we talk to people about plants, they often use “drought tolerant” and “native” interchangeably. (Sometimes we do it too) So why differentiate between them? Isn't drought tolerant enough? Everybody understands the “drought tolerant” part but what’s often overlooked is “native”.
We here at Our City Forest love talking to local residents, neighbors and random passers-by when we’re serving the communities of the Silicon Valley. We get asked a lot of questions about who we are and what we do. In general these interactions are friendly but sometimes, when the hoses are running and the water buckets are filling we get asked: