Thursday, October 8, 2009

Daley's Disposable Tropical Palm Trees

(This was first posted in October. But as we wade thru snowdrifts this morning and contemplate below zero wind chill temps tonight, it may comfort us to know that a few short months ago, our City government was giving us a taste of the tropics -- by planting expensive tropical plants in our parks -- which they then, proceeded to throw away as the climate became inhospitable.)

Chicagoans awoke this morning to the news that their city government has been hard at work conjuring up new ways to regulate their behavior and pick their pockets at the same time.

Three new possible fines to contemplate.

First, if some neighborhood Mrs. Kravitz doesn't like the sound of your dog's barking, you can now be fined up to $250 a day.
And now if you get caught idling your diesel truck or car for more than 3 minutes, you'll get slapped with a $250 fine.
And now, if you should wander within 50 feet of the entrance of an abortion mill and someone complains, you're out 500 bucks.

The city needs revenue, you see.

It isn't bad enough that the cost of parking on a city street now costs the equivalent of many monthly car payments. Daley needs cash and fast.

That's why the libraries are going to shorten their hours and why the parks now charge the equivalent of a 6 month health club membership fee for city kids to join their organized play activities.

So why then is the Mayor planting expensive, exotic tropical foliage on the public ways?

He actually had contractors plant palm trees right here in the Chicago arctic zone. Palm trees that are now, with the onset of winter, being ripped up and tossed away.
I am not making this up.

Palm trees!!!!
In Chicago parks!!!!

At the very corner of Lincoln Avenue and Peterson, at the entrance to Legion Park, with its grand gateway fountain, there is today a hugh gaping mound of dirt where yesterday stood a tropical palm tree and ancillary tropical foliage.
I met a nice old woman who was walking her somewhat overweight dachshund there and her cat (don't ask) and she reported to me that the crew that removed the tropical tree asked her if she wanted it for her home.
Since it stood at least 20 feet high and since she does not have a living room to rival Marie Antoinette's chambers at Versailles, she politely declined.
So it looks as if the disposable tropical foliage was just tossed into a wood chipper.
I asked my horticulturalist friend, Kathy, what a palm tree like that and the assorted other exotic foliage might cost, and she reckoned that it would be at least several thousand dollars wholesale. So with the city's purchasing acumen involved, you can bet that it was at least ten grand or more.
And just what are we doing planting equatorial foliage a full 42 degrees North of the equator?
Didn't anyone mention to the geniuses at the Chicago Park District that it has a wee tendency to get cold in Chicago?
And where else in Chicago did palm trees go up this summer?
I have seen them outside the concession stand at the Oak Street beach. Where else?

Maybe Daley & Co. got so carried away with Olympic fever that they thought they would rival Rio by planting Brazilian tropical plants.
At any rate, the city enforcement mavens and fine collectors had better get busy finding those noisy dogs and idling diesels so we can afford to make our parks look like Pago Pago and Tahiti again next year.

Or maybe like Rio.


  1. Are you sure the palm trees tossed into a wood chipper, or is that an educated guess? Even if they were tossed into a wood chipper I don't really have a problem with that, because that's part of gardening/landscaping. Some thing you grow end up being reused in the garden in the form of composting or mulch.

    In the case of the City, trees cut down and put through a chipper end up getting a second life in the form of wood chip mulch. The City uses the mulch to dress parks, vacant land the city owns and community gardens. Similarly, property owners can get wood chip mulch for free from the city for their gardens and landscaping. So, what you see as a waste actually had multiple uses that benefited many if you think about it.

    A lot of what you see in streetscaping and parks are plants that are referred to as annuals. In our Zone these plants don't survive the winter and return the following spring like perennials do.

    I can't find it now but during the last growing season I read that the palm trees planted by the CPD were on loan from either the Garfield Park Conservatory or the Lincoln Park Conservatory and would be overwintered there.

    The palm trees planted outside the Oak Street Beachstro were planted by the owners of the business. You can Google "Palm Trees line Chicago's lakefront" and find the story on WGN about them.

  2. Oh Please!!

    With city workers being forced to take unpaid days off, fees running wildly rampant -- and you think it's OK to plant extravagant disposable tropical foliage? (Alderman O'Connor's office confirmed that it was done by city contract.)

    How about planting pine trees or white birch or even maples -- something that might last a half century or more and not require Daley-connected horticultural business to get fat off of providing us -- admittedly gorgeous -- but thoroughly impractical tropical foliage?

    Seems there will never be a shortage of sheeple (and generally well-remunerated) Daley-apologists.

  3. Actually I do think it is perfectly fine to plant "disposable" tropical foliage. But then again I'm a gardener that does this all the time. Why not take your reasoning one step further and not plant anything at all.

    While you're at it why don't you get your nickers in a twist over the parks too. I mean who needs them? Lets do away with those extravagances too, then we'll live in a perfect Utopian society populated with fully paid city employees and white pines and birches and not a care in the world.

    But then what would people like you do with your lives if you didn't have something to rant about on your blog?


Comments invited, however anonymous commentors had better deal directly with the issues raised and avoid ad hominem drivel. As for Teachers' Union seminar writers -- forget about it.