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Beauty of trees in full, lush bloom

June 07, 2007

WE live up on top of a hill, and the guy who built our home planted a silk oak. Thanks to your story ["Move Over Jacaranda, You're Not the Only Tree Around," May 31], I now know not only the name of this wonderful tree, but a lot more.

The silk oak tree is towering now, and I have to admit cursing it some years as I rake up the voluminous leaves every spring. This year the flowers have been magnificent.

One morning the tree was filled with yellow birds of different shapes, sizes and markings. I'm no expert, but I know we often get a pair of orioles each year, and they were there. We also get a smaller yellow, wren-like bird, and goldfinches. I was able to identify yellow warblers, which had reddish heads. It was magical. They were all feasting on the nectar.

I have been looking for this kind of tree and noticed some were planted along a stretch of El Toro Road. That mile or so must be bird heaven -- tons of birds all drunk on nectar!

JANINE ROBINSON

Laguna Beach

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THE most magnificent examples [of silk oaks] are to be found in East Highlands on Church Street near the corner of Greenspot Road and 5th Street. These trees are at least four arm lengths in diameter, stand 50 to 60 feet and the blooms are just the best. If the Australia native in the story misses these trees, she should visit this site.

The trees of gold became a love of mine the first time I saw them blooming on the Indian Hills Golf Course [in Riverside]. I've planted three as a memorial to my golden Chow.

CHUCK SHERER

Yucaipa

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THE silk oak, or Grevillea, is indeed misunderstood. As an individual specimen, it is all the things you describe, though I wouldn't call it oddly configured. But as a street tree planted en masse -- as it is along the magnificent, 200-foot-wide, eight-mile-long stretch of Euclid Avenue through Ontario and Upland -- it is an excellent example of urban forestation and place- making done right. As a centerpiece of our community, Euclid Avenue has recently been recognized with placement on the National Register of Historic Places, in part because of the historic plantings.

The Chaffey brothers, founders of the Ontario Colony and early urban planners responsible for these plantings, came from Ontario, Canada, in 1882. Cutting-edge thinkers of their era, they understood the qualities these magnificent trees would bring to Ontario. And 125 years later, we enjoy, appreciate and admire our Grevilleas as we try to emulate the Chaffeys' successes in our community planning.

OTTO KROUTIL

Ontario development director

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