Linda WhitmanIf you attend the 17th annual Arbor Day Free Tree Giveaway on April 29, take a look at the landscape bed next to the police department.

For some time, people have suggested that the police department needed a 24-hour lobby, and the time has arrived for this idea to be implemented. However, the trees near the entry have grown with little disruption because they are wild lime, planted for swallowtail butterflies. While the plants are doing their job—we do see swallowtails in the garden—they also block the view to the police department from the parking lot. To increase security and access, these wild limes need to be removed.

The tricky part is that the trees have thorns. Anyone who has tried to trim a bougainvillea knows all too well how that ends. The trees also started out as bushes and were never trained to have a single trunk, so relocating them is not an option. And simply trimming and leaving the trees would require ongoing maintenance to keep the view corridor clear.

Instead, we have planned to keep the palms and a fledgling native ficus tree. We also will add new, low landscaping that will allow unobstructed views to the department entrance. This new design incorporates plants that have been used elsewhere in front of city hall. We found an appropriate location for new wild limes along the building, where they will stay out of the way. The swallowtail butterflies will have to venture only 10 feet to locate their larval food source. The new plant material will be a mix of natives and non-natives, some of which attract butterflies.

The benefit is, of course, that the police department lobby will be open 24/7 for our residents. This also is a fine example of how multiple departments within city government were able to meet and compromise to everyone’s benefit.

We hope you enjoy the new landscaping when it is complete, and while you’re at city hall for the tree giveaway, stand quietly in our butterfly garden and just watch. The butterflies might be skittish with all the tree giveaway activity, but they usually float and flutter throughout the garden and you can feel your blood pressure drop and muscles relax. We are so fortunate to be the Butterfly Capital of the World.

Happy Arbor Day and enjoy your free trees. And while you’re at it, thank a police officer for the new 24/7 lobby.