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Look for the Green—It’s Free

Freda Isaksen

Stop your car, take the time to get out and look around you, beyond the grey cement sidewalks and the oil slicks on the busy road. Look at the trees and if you’re lucky you’ll also see colorful flowers planted on the sidewalks. Then when you realise the beauty and greenery of what you are seeing get back into your car and drive away from the congestion and the traffic until you come to the mountains around the city or maybe reach a neighborhood park. Then look and admire what nature has provided. There’ll be oak trees, eucalyptus, cypress, fir trees and many more. You may see gardens and orchards where fruit and nut trees abound even budding with blossoms if it’s springtime. Some are green all the year round, others turning to yellow, gold and orange hues in autumn. Maybe the trees have shed their different shapes of foliage because it’s winter but the trunk and bare branches are still there so you can admire the miracle of their growth, in various shapes.

I am a lover of nature and the outdoors and have inspired my family to appreciate what is there for everyone to enjoy. I admire every growing tree as a work of art, so I must live surrounded by nature’s masterpieces. When my husband and I were about to purchase a home it was important to have space on which to grow trees or at least shrubs. We looked at a tract of houses that was being built at that time, but I was afraid that the lots would not provide enough open area around the dwelling so we decided to buy a corner house where three sides would be exposed to the outside. We were disappointed that all of them had already been sold.

We saw a high, bare sandy hill that was vacant and had been neglected by the builder. The elevation interested us so we told the salesperson, “If you decide to build on that hill let us know.” The reply was that it was unlikely that the piece of land would be developed as it would require a completely different set of plans. However we left a phone number and about two weeks later we were informed that the company would indeed build on that steep hill. We rushed over to examine the blueprints of the house and immediately made a down payment. We could visualise that on this property we would have an uninterrupted view of nature, could plant trees galore if we desired and have a clear view of the colorful sunrise on the horizon to the east, as a bonus.

At the rear of the empty lot was that very high grim-looking sandy rise which would be included in the purchase. We were aware that it would pose a problem as it would have to be planted with a suitable groundcover to keep it stable. The developer offered to plant iceplant which grew very quickly, was pretty and colorful but turned out to be unsuccessful because iceplant has shallow roots and heavy growth, so the hill collapsed. Incidentally we sued the landscaper for planting unsuitable groundcover. The soil was planted anew with ivy interspersed with small shrubs. By appearance it is always green and attractive but it requires constant work by a gardener to maintain it because small plants become tall trees and need yearly pruning. But the inconvenience of the care has been overshadowed by the pleasure of seeing nature right outside our windows.

The trees provide beauty, shade, color and privacy, and the groundcover at this time includes blue flowers of morning glory to greet me every morning while the birds are singing in the trees and bushy-tailed grey squirrels are scurrying up the trunks, around the bushes. All that I see is evidence that even whilst living in the middle of the city one can be surrounded by nature’s wonders.

One day a heavy branch broke down an electric cable as it swayed in the wind so it has been necessary to fell some trees to avoid further damage, but their life continues as they grow to be prolific again.

Sometimes I become exasperated by the constant expense of their care, but then I convince myself that it is an investment for future gnerations to enjoy and our surroundings will always be beautiful if only we take the time to look and see what’s there.

Copyright Freda Isaksen 1986–2006. Permission to reuse for non-commercial purposes is granted, provided that the text is unaltered and the original source is acknowledged. For more information, contact isaksen at

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