We have this date palm at the community garden that came from two congregants who visited Israel in the 1970s and brought home a date. Needless to say, the palm is now giant and has a bunch of babies (shoots) around its trunk that are ready to be transplanted. I know several local botanists and groups interested in having one of these transplanted babies for varying projects. And so…
I’ve been bugging permaculture friends for help. They suggested I contact the head tree dude (horticulturalist) at the Phoenix Zoo. He knows his palms, dates and there are a few other crazy puns I could come up with; let’s just say he is a sweet man who took my request to hover over him with my camera while he transplanted a date palm in stride. See? Good dude.
This is how I found myself first thing in the morning at the Phoenix Zoo with two tree men, a shovel and lots of animal gossip. Did you know people regularly abandon their exotic animals at the zoo? Apparently they think the zoo will take care of the peacocks, pythons and even an alligator with its mouth taped shut! Goodness. Instead, these pets have to be handed over to rescue groups. Thankfully, they didn’t tell me about the roof rat/snake issue they are currently having among the palm groves until we were golf-carting away. Yikes.
If you ever have a chance to visit the zoo, check out the grounds too. This guy is very, very good at his job. He’s spent more than a decade planting varieties of trees to match animal environments. As you might expect, he’s exceptionally patient and I did in fact learn how to transplant a date palm. I see now why so few people do this. It is a lot of grunty, sweaty work. We’ll see if it actually happens at the community garden.
Also? He looked the other way when I swiped guava, pomegranate and figs to save the seed for my future backyard. I told him he could keep the alligators (heirloom and transplanted) for himself.