A New Transplant in Rockaway

After multiple requests to the Parks Department and incessant reminders to them via twitter, I finally got my tree-aaaaa!!


My tree, which Matt named Charlie, is not the one I requested but I love him all the same. It’s a Sophora Japonica, commonly called a Regent. It’s a nonnative species on the NYC approved species list because of its tolerance to weather; its ability to grow in any soil and its non-aggressive roots system.

Charlie is from Connecticut – don’t judge, he’s a transplant. He was a leftover from last springs planting. This is probably why the city ignored my request for a Chokecherry. They wanted to get these in the ground before the winter frost – totally understandable. I know all this because we have a guy on the inside… I have a tree guy.*

The whole planting process was aggressive. First, this jackhammer Star Wars like vehicle appeared in front of the house and it vigorously chopped up the sidewalk to extend our tree pit. But hey, I’m not going to complain about a bigger space to garden!

The Star Wars machine disappears and the tree is left on the sidewalk. At this point I’m confused…

An hour later another truck arrives to “clean up” the concrete, phew! Shorlty after that, a big truck with soil rolls up.


Contracted landscapers appeared and plunked the tree in the pit. They added soil and drenched it with water. A supervisor person watched, measured the pit size and approved. The planting was then complete and I was left with a huge mess of concrete bits and dirt everywhere. But I got my tree!

I cleaned up the best I could and I immediately planted decorative cabbage in the new pit next to my tree!


We had two trees in front of the house that died because of Hurricane Sandy but the city only replaced one, as I just described. But why not replace both trees? About 6 months ago a city contractor came and garishly marked “GAS”  in ugly yellow paint on the sidewalk near the other tree pit (and all over the block for that matter). I presume this is why we only got one tree. Well… my tree guy said we can in fact plant a tree on our own. New gas pipes are  plastic and flexible. If a tree root does start to grow near it, the pipe can shift a little. I guess the city is just being cautionary. Also, their haphazard procedure would no doubt cause a gas explosion! Our guy said to use a shovel and dig carefully and slowly. I asked, “Will the city remove the tree if they notice it?”  My guy said “If the tree is well maintained the city mostly likely won’t bother with it.” Ahhhh… sometimes bureaucratic incompetence works in your favor!

With the help of my friend Mountain Man John, we’re going to carefully plant a Chokecherry in the second pit. Prunus virginians is a small tree on the NYC approved species list. It is perfectly suited for coastal habits. The beautiful burgundy foliage will look great against the blue house! I’ll update you on Mission Plant Chokecherry. The tree will arrive in two weeks!

*Always have a guy for everything. It’s how good deals happen, how you save money and how you can circumvent the system if need be. This is not a joke.

tagged in b91, garden, trees