About Us

Gayle Foster Bodorff and Thomas Mair formed Tree People of Walla Walla to support the growth of the world-wide urban canopy. Together the two tree enthusiasts have a combined total of over 100 years of tree work behind them.

Gayle’s parents were members of the “Greatest Generation,” and as a military family they were constantly on the move. As an adult Gayle continued that tradition, and consequently moved no less than 40 times before the age of 40. The responsibilities (and velocity) of her life during this period left little opportunity to take more than a casual interest in the plant world that surrounded her.

The images below offer a partial chronology of the years 1989 to the present. For more information about Gayle scroll to bottom of page.

1989: Platanus orientalis

Gayle in Greece with the ‘Columbus Tree” This Oriental Plane Tree was planted in 1492 to commemorate the discovery of the New World

1995, New Zealand

Sophora microphylla (Sophora kōwhai or kowhai)

When Gayle was about to embark on a horticultural trip to New Zealand she was given an additional task by the director of the Washington Park Arboretum: find and collect seeds from the Sophora microphylla, a New Zealand native.

When Gayle landed on the South Island her first stop was Appleton’s Tree Nursery, where Robert Appleton drew a detailed map to a specimen tree. This journey took her to Lewis pass, where she found the tree in a picture-perfect valley, exactly as the map indicated.

Appletons Tree Nursery

The objective. Note Gayle’s car on road in the distance.

2000, Douz, Tunisia. We are still attempting to identify this tree. Note Thomas in crotch of tree at left. Image on right downloaded from tourism web page.


Tozeur, Tunisia

Jujube tree / Ziziphus jujuba

Also known as the Chinese Date tree. This tree brought to Tozeur and planted in the 14th century by Sidi Ali Bou Lifa.

Lecce, Puglia, Italy; 2000


A Valonia oak dating from the 12th century. The Valonia was once widespread throughout eastern Europe and the Mediterranean area. This specimen is thought to be the last survivor in Italy.

Quercus macrolepis, the former name for Quercus ithaburensis subsp. macrolepis

Cunninghamia lanceolata, Naples Italy

A City Park in Naples, Italy, 2000

Gayle surprises two elderly couples, all clad in black, sitting on a park bench, by hugging a giant tree.

The Italians inquire:

Conosci quell’ albero?
(do you know that tree?)
Gayle: Si (yes)
Come si chiama?
(what is its name?)
Gayle: Cunninghamia
Da dove viene?
(where does it come from?)
Gayle: Cina (China)

The four Italians all stand up and we exchange hearty hugs all around, perhaps even a smile or two.

Note – Twenty-two years later: An observant reader from New Zealand has called the ID of the tree in Naples into question. It was identified as an Araucaria bidwillii,  commonly known as a Bunya pine or a bunya bunya

Lucca Italy 2002

English Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus)

Museo Nazionale di Villa Guinigi

43°50’41.3″N 10°30’43.5″E
43.844802, 10.512090

Yes, this is the very same privacy hedge that so many of us prune relentlessly each year. Left alone it will grow into a lush tree.

Lucca, Italy, 2002


Cashew Tree

Anacardium occidental

South coast of Thailand

2008, Lodi, Italy

Tilia planted on the occasion of St. Bernardino’s visit in 1426.

2009; Lucca Italy

London Planetree

Platanus x acerifolia, or

Platanus x hispanica

(Note Gayle at edge of canopy. We are currently attempting to have this tree measured.)

Lucca, Italy, 2009
Collodi, Capannori, Italy; 2012


The Downy Oak (Quercus pubescens) is a species of white oak that ranges across southern Europe from France to southwest Asia. This magnificent specimen is over 600 years old and has a crown that measures 120 feet. across It is known as the Collodi Oak, in honor of Carlo Collodi, the author of The Adventures of Pinocchio, who sat under its canopy to write his enduring masterpiece.

Sri Lanka, 2014

The Agathis robusta, or Queensland Kauri, is native to Australia. Its more famous relative, the Kauri (Agathis australis) is native to New Zealand.

Captain James Cook discovered NZ in 1769 and the first sawmill was established there in the 1830s. Britain annexed the NZ islands in 1840, and most of the Kauri timber was extracted by the end of the century.

During the same period the British were establishing arboreta in their colonies. This Kauri tree (from Australia) was planted in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kandy, Sri Lanka, (formerly Ceylon) in 1865.

2015, 2020 Monterey Pine / Pinus radiata

Whidbey Island, Washington. Note Gayle standing at edge of canopy in 2015 image. When we returned five years later we discovered a diminished tree. It had suffered storm damage, and had been limbed up to allow space for automobile parking and repair.


2016 Manzanita / Arctostaphylos (Sp.)

Seattle, Washington.

About Gayle Bodorff

  • Certified as a King County Master Gardener with Washington State Extension Services. Performed public outreach & received continuing education during 10 years of service.
  • Certified as a Guide for the Washington Park Arboretum (WPA), Seattle, WA with the U. of Washington and the Center for Urban Horticulture.
  • Performed Guide services for 10 years. The WPA is a world class arboretum of 200 acres (81 hectares) with more than 40,000 trees and shrubs from around the world.
  • Certified as a Docent for the Seattle Japanese Garden.
  • Received credit for numerous classes in Horticulture, Edmonds Community College, WA
  • Active Gardener & Volunteer with Seattle Adopt-a-Park Program.
  • Garden consultant for Homeowners, emphasizing Right Plant, Right Place & cultural needs and care.

Among the Smoke Trees

Summer 2022

Ohio, 1949

Thomas began treework under the tutelage of his father, a Rodale organic orchardist. Thomas created his first seedling bed at the age of 7. After moving his trees several times to progressively larger beds he planted them as 6′ saplings. Several of the Sugar Maples survive to this day, over 65 years later.