Men in Trees

August 16th

We have this date palm at the community garden that came from two congregants who visited Israel in the 1970s and brought home a date. Needless to say, the palm is now giant and has a bunch of babies (shoots) around its trunk that are ready to be transplanted. I know several local botanists and groups interested in having one of these transplanted babies for varying projects. And so…

looking at the babies

I’ve been bugging permaculture friends for help. They suggested I contact the head tree dude (horticulturalist) at the Phoenix Zoo. He knows his palms, dates and there are a few other crazy puns I could come up with; let’s just say he is a sweet man who took my request to hover over him with my camera while he transplanted a date palm in stride. See? Good dude.

The specifics


a wee bit early


Shoot to be transplanted

Replacing a baby

This is how I found myself first thing in the morning at the Phoenix Zoo with two tree men, a shovel and lots of animal gossip. Did you know people regularly abandon their exotic animals at the zoo? Apparently they think the zoo will take care of the peacocks, pythons and even an alligator with its mouth taped shut! Goodness. Instead, these pets have to be handed over to rescue groups. Thankfully, they didn’t tell me about the roof rat/snake issue they are currently having among the palm groves until we were golf-carting away. Yikes.

Harmony Farms



Pretty pommies

Pretty fruit, itchy leaves

If you ever have a chance to visit the zoo, check out the grounds too. This guy is very, very good at his job. He’s spent more than a decade planting varieties of trees to match animal environments. As you might expect, he’s exceptionally patient and I did in fact learn how to transplant a date palm. I see now why so few people do this. It is a lot of grunty, sweaty work. We’ll see if it actually happens at the community garden.

Also? He looked the other way when I swiped guava, pomegranate and figs to save the seed for my future backyard. I told him he could keep the alligators (heirloom and transplanted) for himself.


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9 Responses

  1. Kelli, I love you! I am so enjoying your posts. Hope your week is fabulous… 🙂 Your fan…

  2. Keep us posted on whether you transplant the date palms!

    I did know people abandon their exotics at the zoo. A college friend used to work at the Phoenix Zoo as the animal curator (or something like that).

    I find that many people are very nice and willing to help if you ask nicely.

  3. What a great day you had. Sounds very interesting and fun.

  4. Ok here’s my stupid question. Do you eat the “dates”? Obviously never had one. What do you do with them? That’s really cool that you got to go to the zoo and hang out with the tree men!

  5. My father is a “tree man” himself. They are a very generous, interesting breed. You know what else love palm trees? Cockroaches! Along with rodents and snakes, they will build nests in the crooks of the trunk, which is why it’s important to keep your palms trimmed. *shiver*

  6. Cant wait to see your garden with those….

  7. I do not care for dates. But I know they are very popular in Arizona. In fact, I believe there is a town that you pass on the way to Yuma that is famous for “Date Shakes”. YUCK! I’m not a big fan of pomegranates either. Or figs. haha. I do like guava juice, but have never had a fresh guava. Maybe when i was in Hawaii.. don’t remember. Sounds like you’ll have quite the tropical backyard someday! Are you working on buying a house soon?

  8. Cool that you got a behind-the-scenes look at the zoo. I love the zoo–except for the crowds. I’ve always thought the grounds were pretty and now I know who’s responsible.

    I have to agree I don’t care much for dates, figs, or pomegranates either, though. We have a pomegranate bush in our yard. Only the birds dine on them.

  9. Good for you in finding a solution to the date palm problem. Hopefully, the community garden can use these new findings effectively. Besides the regular programs offered by zoos, museums, botanical gardens, and other venues, the folks that work there are indeed a wonderful resource for our own smaller endeavors at home. Like you, I would also decline alligators, snakes, and other similar offerings.