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Top Trees
Mary Friestedt | Bellaire Street

The last storm in Del Mar was terrifying -- with giant Eucalyptus and Torrey Pine trees crashing on houses and garages and causing major damage in our precious town. This is the perfect time to rethink our trees. In fact, City Council considers all Eucalyptus trees undesirable and residents can now apply for a permit to remove them without having to pay a fee.

It is time to replace them with smaller trees! When choosing a tree, think about its ultimate size and water requirements. A fabulous book to help you find the perfect tree for your garden is Ornamental Trees for Mediterranean Climates: the Trees of San Diego by Don Walker and Steve Brigham. There are 260 trees discussed in the book, all with photographs, but here are 15 of the best for our town -- all beautiful, drought tolerant, and with an ultimate height or 25’ or less.

Queensland Bottle Tree at San Diego
Botanic Gardens.
Photos Mary Friestedt.

Queensland Bottle Tree (Brachychiton rupestris) – a showstopper with its bulbous trunk. It stays small if kept in a container. (If it is planted in the ground, it will be taller than 25’. Either way it will get a swollen bulging trunk.

Bronze Loquat (Eriobotrya deflexa) –evergreen with dramatic coppery-red foliage

Pineapple Guava (Acca sellowiana) – evergreen with pretty flowers and tasty fruit

Peppermint Tree (Agonnis flexuosa) –lacey with fragrant foliage - ‘Jervis Bay Afterdark’ has burgundy foliage.

Tree Aloe (Aloe barberae) –This amazing succulent can be seen in Dr. Seuss books!

Strawberry Tree (Arbutus unedo) – has 1” round fruits that are red and edible.

Eastern Redbud “Forest Pansy” (Cersis canadensis) – With pink flowers, and burgundy, heart-shaped leaves, this is a beauty.

New Zealand Christmas Tree (Metrosideros excelsa) –With red flowers at Christmas, this easy-to-shape tree is bullet proof and loves growing on the coast.

Lemon-scented Tea Tree (Leptospermum petersonii) –Check it out at the south end of the library. Fragrant leaves, a lacey growth habit, and happy along the coast.

Dragon Tree at San Diego Botanic Gardens.
Click on photos to enlarge.

Dragon Tree (Dracena draco) – San Diego Botanic Garden’s signature tree

Olive (Olea europaea) – gray foliage and so easy to grow. Try Wilson’s fruitless.

African Sumac (Rhus lancea) –a delightful hardy evergreen

Australian Willow (Geijera parviflora) – willow-like leaves - a graceful evergreen

Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis) – Fragrant leaves are useful for cooking, and they repel pantry insects.

Flowering plum (prunus blireana) – Graceful habit with reddish-purple leaves which become bronze by summer.

It was very difficult to mention so few wonderful trees, but please do try to read the aforementioned book. You will drool and no doubt find many small, beautiful trees to make your landscape gorgeous. Happy gardening!

 

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