Burnett: Some of this gardener’s best friends are trees

Other than living in Bermuda for a couple of years in my rock’n roll days, I’ve lived all my life in the sunny Okanagan.

Other than living in Bermuda for a couple of years in my rock’n roll days and spending a year in Vancouver seeking my fortune as a teenager, I’ve lived all my life in the sunny Okanagan.

I have seen the city of Kelowna grow from a population of 15,000 in the 1960s to more than 100,000 today.

I remember walking down Bernard Avenue as a teenager and recognizing just about every second person I met.

Today, most of the people I would encounter on that same walk would be strangers.

Being in the gardening business for so many years, I’ve met many people and developed many friendships, which as time goes on, mean more and more to me.

The other day as I was driving around town executing my duties as a garden consultant, I realized my friends included more than just people. Included in my group of friends are the many trees and shrubs I see on every street—trees and shrubs, some of which I’ve been watching for many years and others that I have met only recently.

I know a lot of them personally, such as the Colorado blue spruce at Cottonwoods Extended Care Hospital that I and then-mayor Jim Stuart planted when the south wing was opened in the early ’80s.

The large spruce across from Kelowna Golf and Country Club on the corner of Mountain and Glenmore was planted by myself and good friend Gerry Deshayes in about 1967. I can’t drive by it today without recalling how we hurried to get the job done so we could party that night.

Some trees I consider my friends were planted long before I was born, such as the copper beech on the corner of Saucier and Ethel and the ginko on the corner of Burne and Ethel.

I have many new “tree friends” that have come into existence recently such as the hundreds of boulevard trees the City of Kelowna has planted.

I’m sure all of you notice at least one or two trees during your daily travels. Perhaps after reading this you will have a deeper appreciation of them, maybe even consider them as your friends.

Just imagine if these trees could talk! What stories they could tell about what has transpired in their presence over the years.

A healthy tree over 100 years of age is a wondrous organism that could go on and on if it weren’t for stress caused by root compaction, bad pruning practices and other interferences by humans.

There are some trees that will not live as long as others due to their location, however, we can’t change their lot in life.

Some of our trees will, however, carry on long after we are gone.

A few to note: The Liquidambar styraciflua, (American sweetgum) in Stuart Park, the ginko biloba (maidenhair tree) group in City Park and the Tilia cordata (linden) at Guisachan. Next time you are out and about I encourage you to become acquainted with a few new “tree friends.”

Kelowna Capital News