Mitchell took me to see his Moreton Bay Fig in Santa Paula. I understand that.
I have relationships with trees too, and this one is amazing.
It was planted in 1879 — and yes, it is famous — and grows up higher than some I’ve seen, instead of sprawling like the one in Santa Barbara. I had one I used to visit that was a short walk from my apartment, at the Hotel Miramar in Santa Monica.
Behind it is the Southern Pacific Railroad Depot.
The plaque under our wondrous Moreton Bay fig tree reads: “Moreton Bay Fig, July 4, 1879, Eden H. Orne. 1962 Santa Paula Chamber of Commerce Tree and Land Purchase.”
It has been almost 40 year since caring citizens organized to save this historic tree. These concerned Santa Paula residents formed a legal trust and named it The Citizens Memorial Park Trust. They were motivated by the possibility that the site, directly across from the Southern Pacific Railroad Depot, might be used for commercial development….
Hard work, organization, dedication and generosity produced a successful campaign, which had collected $7,246.04 by February 19, 1962. One half of “Lot #1, Block #56” was purchased March 5, 1962, and the citizens gave this small plot of land with the wonderful tree to the City of Santa Paula. The remaining $246.04 was used to pay for printing, postage and a share of the taxes. Information available indicates that in 1875 or 1876, a nurseryman brought a supply of these Ficus Macrophylla (Moreton Bay fig) to Ventura County from San Francisco in five-gallon cans. This tree is native to Australia, so there must be another wonderful story about the journey from Australia to America. One particular tree was planted by the Rev. Orne in 1879 to commemorate the birthdate of the late Cecelia Orne Miller, his beloved daughter. The Rev. Orne was an early-day Santa Paula preacher who lived across the street from our Southern Pacific Railroad Depot. Our fabulous tree is still a healthy tree with an indefinite lifespan – thanks to the many people who invested their time, energy, expertise, treasure and enthusiasm to save her. Santa Paula is blessed with so many trees to treasure!
“Memory is more indelible than ink.” Anita Loos, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
“I think not….” Me… why I journal!
©D. Katie Powell.
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