08/17/16 10:45am

Heights Mercantile treesHeights Mercantile treesThe shot above, facing south along the eastern edge of the 7th-St.-straddling site of the Heights Mercantile development, shows a few of the new meant-to-catch-eyes green sashes now adorning a series of trees along the Heights Blvd. sidewalk. But just what kind of message are those low-slung stripes sending to workers at the site, a reader wonders? Does green mean made the cut, or cut ’em down?

Renderings of plans for the project include a double-wide strip of trees framing a walking path parallel to 7th St. (labeled an outdoor art gallery), with additional greenery arranged in front of the Heights Blvd. bungalows being recruited into the retail center:


Marked at 7th St.
06/28/16 4:30pm

Marquis Lofts at Hermann Park, 1 Hermann Park Ct., TMC, Houston, 77021

Marquis Lofts at Hermann Park, 1 Hermann Park Ct., TMC, Houston, 77021The commute northward along Almeda Rd. from the corner with Hermann Park Ct. is much less shady of late, reports a reader in the area who snapped these photos last week. The tipster says that some 15 trees have been cut up and shuffled around by the Marquis Lofts (the ones at the edge of the Med Center, not the ones that once hosted a James Harden rooftop photo shoot). Most of the trees appear to have been directly alongside the road, though a few of the felled were reportedly rooted on the other side of the sidewalk. (That’s the formerly bankrupt and bank-rupturing Mosaic condo highrise in the distance, north across MacGregor and Brays Bayou in the shot above.)

Below is a graphic closeup of some of the arboreal aftermath (a warning here to those uncomfortable with the sight of sap and shredded cellulose):


Stumped on Almeda
03/08/16 10:00am

TREE PROFESSIONALS: PECAN AT 509 LOUISIANA ST. WOULD HAVE JUST DIED ANYWAY Pecan Tree formerly at 509 Louisiana St., Downtown, Houston, 77002The pecan tree formerly behind the former Longhorn Cafe on Louisiana St. is down at last, following the 100-plus-year-old buildings at 509 and 517 Louisiana into that Great Big Preservation District in the Sky. Nancy Sarnoff of the Houston Chronicle reports that 2 arborists were called in to examine the tree, and pronounced it dead-or-close-enough: Lauren Lusk Willis, a member of the family that owns the next-door Lancaster Hotel, told the Chronicle that a lightning strike had damaged the tree, and that its core was rotting. Willis said that the pecan “would not likely have survived the leveling of the lot for any construction,” and that “ultimately, it wouldn’t have survived regardless.” The tree, haunted by a both-Sam-and-city-of Houston ghost story, was long visible only to those who entered 509 Louisiana’s hidden courtyard, until the pecan’s 2001 outing by the demo of the Rice Rittenhouse parking garage; it went back into hiding by the end of 2003 with the help of 33-story Calpine Center. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo of the pecan tree, following demolition of 509 Louisiana St.: KineticD

12/02/15 3:15pm

MAYOR PARKER CLEARS UP RICHMOND AVE SHELL STATION SELF STORAGE TREE REMOVAL MYSTERY Street Oak Tree Stump, 1810 Richmond Ave., Montrose, HoustonStumped by the sudden disappearance of 4 or 5 large oak trees in the city easement fronting a vacant lot adjacent to the recently demolished Shell station at 1810 Richmond Ave, between Hazard and Woodhead? They were chopped down last week, in advance of a new Montrose Big Tex Self Storage facility soon to begin construction on the site. Mayor Parker is on the case, reassuring concerned street-tree watchers: The trees “were in bad health & posed safety threat,” she tweeted earlier today. “Fully permitted removal granted with plan to plant new trees.” [HAIF] Photo of Richmond Ave stump: Kyle Nielsen

05/14/15 4:30pm

Tree Cutting on Yale St. Between 5th and 6th Streets, Houston Heights

Landscape crews last week chopped down 16 live oak trees lining the west side of Yale St. just south of White Oak, along the eastern border of the second of Trammell Crow Residential’s Alexan Heights apartment complexes. A similar scene took place last year in front of the Alexan Heights north of White Oak and 6th St. (at right in the above photo).

A reader sent in pics of the recent street-tree sawfest:


Chop ’n Plant
05/05/15 12:00pm

Replacement Oak Tree in Front of Wendy's Restaurant, 5003 Kirby Dr., Upper Kirby, Houston

The sixth and last of the replacement street trees was planted in the public right-of-way surrounding the Wendy’s drive-thru at 5003 Kirby Dr. over the weekend. “It is a big specimen tree, taller than what was removed,” writes the reader who sent in these photos of the installation paid for by a special city fund for Houston parks — so we can all see for ourselves. The previous weekend, 5 replacement oaks were put in along the side street, North Blvd. Crews hired by the franchise owner, Mohammed Ali Dhanani of Haza Foods, had chopped down 6 trees on adjacent city property last October. You can compare the current scene in these photos and in our story last week with how it all looked before the chainsaws were fired up.


04/27/15 4:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHY THEY WON’T BE LINING POST OAK BLVD. WITH POST OAKS Post Oak Forest“So close! Just imagine how impressive it would be to have a forest of 800 post oaks on Post Oak Blvd. Unfortunately, post oaks don’t tend to transplant well compared to live oaks, which is why we use live oaks in our landscaping instead of post oaks. (Source: Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center)” [GoogleMaster, commenting on Boxed Forest of 800 Trees in Tomball Preparing for March Down Post Oak Blvd.] Illustration: Lulu

04/24/15 1:00pm

Post Oak Live Oaks Growing at Environmental Design, 23544 Coons Rd., Tomball, Texas

Post Oak Live Oaks Growing at Environmental Design, 23544 Coons Rd., Tomball, TexasFor Arbor Day, the Uptown Houston District is showing off the 800 live oaks earmarked for Post Oak Blvd. now being trained in Tomball for a life on the streets. The tree reboxers and transplanters at Environmental Design are breeding the trees on the company’s Tomball campus at 23544 Coons Rd.


Live Oaks Training for New Post
04/13/15 3:15pm

NEW INSTALLATION MARKS LOCATIONS OF KIRBY DR. WENDY’S OAKS WITH THICK YELLOW RIBBONS Protection for New Trees, Wendy's Restaurant, 5003 Kirby Dr., Upper Kirby, HoustonSpotted at the corner of North Blvd. and Kirby Dr., just north of Rice Village: 6 holes, 6 staked-off areas, and 6 fabric wraps around the Wendy’s drive-thru at 5003 Kirby. Is this another art installation in memory of the removed oaks? Naaah. Probably just the work of city crews, getting ready to plant their replacements. Expenditure of up to $300K for new live oaks — matching the amount paid by the franchise owner as part of a legal settlement for last year’s nighttime tree-hacking incident — was approved by city council back in February. Photo: Swamplot inbox

03/05/15 12:00pm

Chopped Trees on Dallas St. Near Milam St., Downtown Houston

A Downtown reader sends in pics of a row of street trees on 6 blocks of Dallas St. that were chopped down over the weekend. The trees are distinctive because most of them were planted in the actual street, not on the adjacent sidewalk. They were planted in the street between parking spaces about 6 years ago, around the same time a single-lane-wide section of sidewalk that now serves a bus stop was installed in front of the HPD headquarters building at the corner of Travis and Dallas.

Here’s a view from above of a row of stumps that sits in front of the McDonald’s at 808 Dallas St.:


Right of Way
02/25/15 11:45am

TREE-CUTTING SETTLEMENT BUYS NEW LANDSCAPING AROUND KIRBY DR. WENDY’S Wendy's Restaurant, 5003 Kirby Dr., Upper Kirby, HoustonCity council approved a measure last week to spend $300,000 from a special fund for Houston parks on the installation of 6 new live-oak trees on the right-of-way surrounding the Wendy’s drive-thru restaurant at 5003 Kirby Dr. That’s the now-mostly treeless corner of North Blvd. pictured here, where crews hired by the franchise owner, Mohammed Ali Dhanani of Haza Foods, removed 6 old live-oak trees at night last October. The budget for the replacement includes removing what remains of the 6 stumps, installation of irrigation and subdrainage systems, and a 2-year warranty for the new trees, which will measure between 14 and 16 inches in diameter. The allotted budget matches the amount Dhanani paid in a settlement to the city for the incident last year. Any amount left over will be used for “additional improvements within City rights-of-way or park lands” approved by the Houston Parks Board director. [City of Houston; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Swamplot inbox

02/23/15 12:15pm

Sign for Kensington at River Oaks, 1705 Waugh Dr. at Peden, Hyde Park, Montrose, Houston

Former Oak at Future Site of Sign for Kensington at River Oaks, 1705 Waugh Dr. at Peden, Hyde Park, Montrose, Houston

If you’re wondering what horticultural death incident inspired the recent orange graffiti defacing the sign heralding Carnegie Custom Homes‘ townhome project at 1705 Waugh Dr. in Hyde Park (shown in the pic at top), an earlier photo of the site sent to Swamplot (below it) shows the estimated 120-plus-year-old oak tree whose removal sparked a yellow-ribbon-festooning and protest by neighbors back on Pearl Harbor Day. The tree, which stood at the corner of Waugh and Peden, in front of the former Waugh Dr. Baptist Church, was chopped down on December 9th.


Kensington at River Oaks
01/27/15 11:45am

Plaque on Wendy's Drive-Thru, 5003 Kirby Dr. at North Blvd., Upper Kirby, Houston

Oak Tree Stumps, North Blvd. at Kirby Dr., Upper Kirby, Houston

Plaque on Wendy's Drive-Thru, 5003 Kirby Dr. at North Blvd., Upper Kirby, HoustonJaws have been dropping along North Blvd. at the intersection of Kirby Dr. at the sight of a prominently placed inscription that now greets drive-thru customers of the Wendy’s at 5003 Kirby Dr. Is this just one of those obliviously coincidental following-corporate-guidelines things, or is the management of this Wendy’s going out of its way to draw attention to the under-cover-of-night street-tree massacre it orchestrated late last year to clear away 6 oaks on the corner and that cost the franchise owners a well-publicized $300,000 settlement from the city’s legal department? Or is the assembly of words attached directly to the brick wall, which honors “SERVICE THAT DOESN’T CUT CORNERS,” meant to apologize for the hired landscaping crew’s actions — which y’know, really did cut a corner — and emphasize that the hardworking burger-makers inside are trying to do something . . . different?

In full, the signage reads, “QUALITY SERVICE THAT DOESN’T CUT CORNERS IS OUR RECIPE,” though the part about corner-cutting service in the middle is clearly meant as an add-on to the fast-food chain’s more famous “Quality is our recipe” tagline. For those of you who haven’t been following the saga closely enough to appreciate the . . . humor? chutzpah? contrition? obliviousness? involved here,  here’s the backstory:


Corner Cutting
01/12/15 1:46pm

Reopened Wendy's Restaurant at 5003 Kirby Dr., Upper Kirby, Houston

Burger King and Diminished Oak Tree at 5115 Kirby Dr., Upper Kirby, Houston

A regular Kirby Dr. street-tree watcher sends in this pair of recent images showing the Wendy’s drive-thru at 5003 Kirby Dr. (at the far western end of oak-tree-bedecked North Blvd.), which reopened after renovations the week before Christmas, and its neighbor a few driveways down, the Burger King at 5115 Kirby Dr. (at the far western end of similarly shaded South Blvd). The photos show the aftermath of a series of chainsaw incidents that took place last year.

The daring but probably not death-inducing trimming of the lone surviving Kirby Dr. street tree in front of Wendy’s (shown at top) took place after the franchise’s owner, Ali Dhanani of Haza Foods, paid the city a $300,000 settlement for the nighttime removal of 6 other oaks on city property surrounding the restaurant shortly before Halloween. A report in November indicated that the city’s legal team was investigating the more aggressive paring of oak limbs in front of the neighboring Burger King, as well as another Burger King owned by Houston Foods, the second-largest Burger King franchisee in the country, which is run by Dhanani’s brother, Shoukat Dhanani.

Photos: Swamplot inbox

The Giving Trees
01/09/15 12:30pm


Behind this row of 9 live oak trees along Leeland St., one block north of the Gulf Fwy. (and the southern edge of East Downtown), Talia Homes is planning a development of 75 gated homes called Talia Village — on the site of what was, until last summer, the Spencer Company’s Florabunda wholesale nursery at 1609 Ennis St. South of the development is the Metro Auto Storage tow lot; to the east lies what a reader describes as “uh, a large pasture next to the bike trail which is used by somebody’s horses fairly often.”


Talia Village Greenery