Even San Francisco Landscape Artists Have to Compete With Apple

April 13, 2017, 2:04 PM UTC

I’d like to take a break from the usual tech stuff to have a short conversation about trees.

Indulge me just this once, and I promise to do my best to make you glad you stuck with me despite that surprising first sentence. Tech people obsess about all sorts of things: the ingredients in their food, the pixels on their screens, their gas mileage—or electric range—their cars get. On Wednesday morning, San Franciscans who still get a newspaper woke up to a delightful article in the hometown newspaper about a 5.4-acre city park being built on the roof of the massive new transportation complex, the Transbay Transit Center.

If the park is as great as it sounds, it will make up for the misery its construction has caused the city for years now. It is our version of the Big Dig in Boston—a gargantuan, traffic-clogging, money pit that ought to make things better but so far has messed things up pretty good.

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Now comes the fun part. The city’s newest big park will be a veritable rooftop botanical garden, with multiple species of trees from all over. In fact, writes J.K. Dineen, the ace real estate reporter for The San Francisco Chronicle, there will eventually be 469 trees in the park, and they currently are being staged at nurseries all over California.

All this was good enough. And then I came to the tech-related nugget that caught my eye.

“Buying trees is a surprisingly cutthroat business. And it’s been especially challenging to locate desirable specimens because Apple has been buying up 3,000 trees for its new Cupertino headquarters. When [the landscape architects working on the project] found a tree they fancied they would ‘tag it’ with a locking yellow tag, so that nobody else—like Apple—could get it.”

Apple (AAPL), of course, has been a famous buyer of trees for its new campus, a quest that dates to the love Steve Jobs had for apricot trees that once dotted the Santa Clara Valley around where he grew up. This marvelous feature from VentureBeat’s Chris O’Brien details just how overpowering Apple’s appetite for trees is.

That’s it. No bits and bytes today. But I hope this helps you see the forest for the trees, because that’s important too.

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