Ballona Institute Publication 17 November 2018

Trees of Miramar Hotel Grounds, Santa Monica, California in 1944
Environmental Studies: History, Philosophy, Psychology, Geography and Biology

Robert Jan van de Hoek, President
Ballona Institute
Los Angeles, California 90293
November 17, 2018

Robert Jan van de Hoek
          In 1944, amidst World War II, in Santa Monica, George Tracy Hastings, retired New York Educator, self-published a book entitled: Trees of Santa Monica. In that book on page 9, he named the trees and wrote about the landscape at the Miramar Hotel located above the seashore atop the Pacific Palisades. Reproduced here for the whole world to see for the first time in 75 years is the exact narrative as written by George Hastings in 1943-1944, and so no longer lost, not forgotten, but very much alive on the internet computer of the World Wide Web (www) for all the world to read, learn, share and interpret in any way that they see fit. I believe that George Hastings gives us an early first report that qualifies as "environmental studies" and under that umbrella is therefore at an intersection of several disciplines, namely philosophy, psychology, history, politics, geography and biology. The Ballona Institute has this rare book well protected in our library archives. Our book has a soft-cover that shows a photo of young pine trees lined up in a row on a mysteriously unnamed street of Santa Monica. Whereas, the Santa Monica College Library has 6 of these rare self-published books, yet none of them show the cover photograph which was disappointing for me to discover. Two of these 6 copies are hard-cover books with no dust jacket cover sadly, and thus the remaining 4 copies must have been soft-cover books similar to the Ballona Institute copy. The UCLA libraries have 3 copies of the 1944 self-published book. And the Santa Monica City Public Library has 3 copies of this rare 1944 book but none of these 3 copies have the cover photograph of pine trees. A fourth copy of this book appears to have gone missing, lost or stolen at the city library. Will all the public library copies of this book, sadly, eventually disappear?

George Tracy Hastings
When Senator Jones built his home where the Hotel is now, he planted many uncommon trees, some which still stand on the grounds. Finest of these is the giant MORETON BAY FIG or RUBBER TREE. Beneath this is a cluster of BIRD-OF-PARADISE TREES, strictly speaking these are not trees but large herbaceous plants, another cluster of these trees is in the northwest corner of the grounds. Close to the Fig is the largest New Zealand CHRISTMAS TREE in the city, a large CORAL TREE (Erythrina corallodendron) and a rare CURLY PALM (Howea belmoreana). Six other kinds of palms are found on the grounds; the two Washingtonias -- MEXICAN and CALIFORNIA FAN PALMS, -- the CANARY ISLAND DATE, which also grows in front of the hotel grounds on Ocean Avenue, the QUEEN or PLUME PALM, the WINDMILL PALM and a FORSTER SENTRY PALM, the latter of the same genus as the Curly Palm. A number of fine BLUE GUMS are on the Ocean Avenue side of the grounds. The SOUTHERN MAGNOLIA is close to the hotel towards the north. On the California Avenue side are two Cedars, -- the DEODAR and the ATLAS CEDAR, also the ORANGE PITTOSPORUM. On the Wilshire side of the hotel is a large MONTEREY PINE, several BLUE GUMS, a few BROWN GUMS (Eucalyptus robusta), a large RED BOX or AUSTRALIAN BEECH (Eucalyptus polyanthemos), and by itself in the lawn a fine specimen of the curious DRAGON TREE.
Robert Jan van de Hoek
          This environmental study of Santa Monica demonstrates the early eradication of native plants in Santa Monica as well as the loss of global ornamental trees such that two kinds of biodiversity has been diminished at the Miramar Hotel, yet most of the fertile soil still remains intact, so that all the trees listed by George Hastings in 1944 can be recovered at the hotel again. Except for the Moreton Bay Fig that still is living and doing well, all the other species except perhaps the Coral Tree are gone due to human control and deliberate human dislike for those species such that a second degradation of biodiversity occurred between 1944 and 1956. The natural environment and cultural environment continues to become more sterile each day in Santa Monica, yet the myth grows larger that Santa Monica is an environmental city and a model to emulate as a global city, a regional city of Los Angeles County and the state of California and our nation with four U.S. presidents that have stayed at the Miramar Hotel over the last 125 years. Will the Miramar Hotel replant the rare Dragon Tree, increasingly common gum trees, and the Bird-of-Paradise as examples of recovering some biodiversity of 75 years ago. Perhaps, at least three native trees and bushes of our our coastal LA landscape that have lived here for hundreds and thousands of years can be recovered at the hotel. I suggest planting a Laurel Sumac, Brewer Saltbush, and Toyon as good choices! The only coastal California native tree listed Hastings is the Monterey Pine which is not native to coastal LA and was removed during various hotel and city street work projects. Currently, three California native Coast Live Oak trees, although not large yet, grow in a row in the patio area of the hotel cottages, protected behind the wall, beyond the sidewalk of Ocean Avenue.