Of all the titles Ross Cortese could have given to the master homeowner association of his Leisure World now Laguna Woods Village, he chose the “Golden Rain Foundation.” If one were to parse the title it could be surmised that “golden” referred to the “golden” years of the prospective residents. “Rain,” well who knows, since we have so little of it, but in actuality, Golden Rain refers to a tree.
Native to Korean, professional arborists call it “Koelreuteria paniculat.”
It is described as having “showy yellow blossoms in early summer followed by papery hanging capsules through October. It adapts to many soil types and tolerates air pollution, drought, and alkalinity.” All good things for Southern California.
Cortese, according to Historical Society reports, saw the tree in New Orleans and ordered 2,700 sent to a nursery in Chino. They were then planted in Seal Beach Leisure World, his first retirement community. Thus, the name of the Foundation.
If you want to see one, head over to Building 117 Via Estrada, and look at the end of Carport 111. It is reportedly, the oldest Golden Rain tree in Laguna Woods Village. When I visited the tree in mid-September there were large clusters of bright yellow flowers hanging from its droopy branches, described as looking like “golden rain.” The yellow flowers are followed by red-purple seed pods. The leaves are lacy and will turn yellow before dropping. By now, the leaves have probably dropped.
Landscaping was a priority with the developer. And trees from all over the world were planted in the community. At one time there were 135 species of trees, according to Historical Society records.
There are many kinds of eucalyptus from Australia along with the bottlebrush. New Zealand is represented by a New Zealand Christmas tree which, since we are on the other side of the world, blossoms in June or July.
The Chinese crepe myrtle is a common tree in the Village, along with the coral tree, from South Africa and orchid tree of India along with the jacaranda, with its vibrant lavender flowers, native to Brazil.
As Laguna Woods Village gets ready to celebrate its 50th anniversary in September 2014, the trees, like its residents, from all parts of the Globe, continue to thrive in the Southern California climate.