Disney's Eucalyptus Trees

Posted on February 12, 2018 by Ed Coughlin

The west coast, all the way up the Pacific Coast Highway, from San Diego to San Francisco, is where I first gained an appreciation for Eucalyptus trees.  I was utterly amazed at what a solitary Euc could do to soften and frame a home’s otherwise desert landscape.

Or completely change the character and offer much needed shade to an entire neighborhood.

Now some Californians have recently turned their backs on Eucs. After planting them for hundreds of years (when/where nothing else would grow) as windbreaks for farms and orchards, for aesthetics, and for timber, they now say it’s time for their invited and gracious guests to go.

Proponents of the “native only” movement” like to co-mingle the “invasive” and “non-native” tags to win their argument against the trees. But not all non-natives are invasive!

The non-native tag is true. Eucs are native to Australia and belong to the Myrtaceae family. Yes, just like our beloved Crepe Myrtles.

But keep an open mind when casting off non-natives. They bring much needed species diversity, offer animal shelter, nectar, and sometimes provide a better choice (see dogwoods and elms) than natives in the landscape. And remember, corn, strawberries, avocadoes, chickens, cows, and most of us, are not natives either! I think that claim goes only to the American Indian and fish!!!  

Alright, enough with all the politics. The real reason for this blog is to share some pictures and surprises from a recent west coast trip and visit to the wonderful world of Disney.

The Anaheim, CA park welcomes over 70,000 visitors a day. I think it was closer to 100,000 when we arrived.  Disney’s horticulturists and designers are some of the best in the world. They could choose any plant to welcome their high paying patrons through the gate.  But they choose Eucalyptus!

It is a great way to stop and smell the Eucs before paying the piper and mixing with the masses. Also, Eucs as a canopy, is counterintuitive to the argument that they are prone to dropping their limbs. Can’t see the Disney lawyers missing on that one!

The tree lined street was functional in both providing filtered shade and screening the massive parking lots. And the use of Eucs as specimens was prominent at the park’s famous photo-op.

From a gardener’s perspective there was also enough “Disneyfied” stuff to appreciate, and still ask why?

Never got the animal topiary thing! Still, it was good to see - when some in California have turned their back on Eucs – that Disney still has an appreciation for the diverse trees.

 Next blog:
Oddities and impressions of West Coast gardening!

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