By Dave Schwab
Several trees lining the sidewalk in front of St. James by-theSea Church’s gift shop at 743 Prospect St. which have been sick and dying for some time were removed by a city of San Diego work crew Jan. 19.
“We had multiple arborists come out to corroborate that the trees were dying of redbud rot fungus,” said Walter DuMelle, assistant to the rector at St. James. “Arborists were actually pulling bark off the trees that were dead or dying of the fungus.”
Since all the trees were infected, DuMelle said the city decided to take them out all at once instead of doing it piecemeal. He added the church’s Building and Grounds Committee has yet to determine what the next step will be, whether to replace the trees or what might otherwise be done with the now-treeless curbside space.
“Right now we’re just mourning our loss,” he said.
Several months ago, St. James filed a police report when the church noticed several palm trees lining the sidewalk in front of its gift shop at 743 Prospect St. appeared sickly with their fronds yellowing. Parishioners had raised the money to plant those trees about 20 years ago, according to Blayney Colmore, the former rector.
At that time in a church newsletter, St. James current Rev. Randal Gardner concluded, “After several months of working to improve the health of the palm trees that surround the St. James campus, we have come to the conclusion that their poor health is very likely the result of poisoning. An arborist who is an expert in palm trees confirms that conclusion.”
The rector’s message to parishioners then stated there had been a pattern of “malicious intent” the past two years with those palms, claiming theyd been “salted” and “copper spikes had been nailed into their trunks.”
Church officials noted that the harm done to the palm trees on the grounds of the Episcopal church did not seem to include the king palms or the dragon tree that are part of the front lawn and patio of the grounds of the church’s buildings.