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City works to save withering jacarandas on Indian Hill

Travelers along Indian Hill Boulevard south of Arrow Highway will see that the jacaranda trees are struggling. City officials say a combination of heat and change in turf are the cause.

Dave Roger, deputy director of community services, said the city, under the governor’s April 2015 executive order, had the median turf removed, which may have exacerbated stress caused by an extended drought.

The area is covered with a thick layer of mulch and without removing the mulch there’s no way to tell if the roots were damaged, Mr. Roger said.

“I think they’re in shock. We’ve been dumping water on them in the last six weeks; some are responding, some are not,” he said. “Since it’s still green under the bark, I have high hopes we can stimulate growth on them.”

The city has increased the watering schedule on the median to one-hour drip sessions, three times a day. The drippers, spaced about 24-inches apart, run five days a week providing about three gallons of water per dripper per day, he said.

“I’ve been out there digging around and it seems plenty moist to me,” Mr. Roger said.

CLS Landscape was contracted to remove the turf in 2015, prior to Mr. Roger joining the city’s community services department. The company did the Foothill Boulevard turf removal the same year—a project that was followed by sickly looking Eucalyptus trees.

“We’re no longer using CLS,” he said. “We went out to bid after I started with the city and brought in a new contractor, MCE Corporation—they’re working on it and closely monitoring the watering schedule.”

The jacarandas still have green under the bark—a “living layer” or cambium—leaving Mr. Roger to believe there is a good chance some of the trees will bounce back with proper treatment.

This Wednesday, the city directed the new contractors to apply ArborFos, an injection that stimulates defense systems on  trees.

“The Jacarandas were in the turf grass for so many years, that’s what they were used to. It’s a combination of things, but it usually takes several years for a tree to start showing signs of ‘I’m not happy,’” Mr. Roger said.

Mr. Roger said the city is doing everything it can to save them.

“They are heritage as far as I’m concerned,” Mr. Roger said. “When you drive up that part of the road, they are absolutely gorgeous.”

For information, contact the city's community services department at (909) 399-5431.

—Kathryn Dunn

editor@claremont-courier.com