Arbor Day–a celebration of the trees in our lives

Arbor Day–a celebration of the trees in our lives

The swing hanging from our magnolia tree has provided many happy memories for our family. Photo credit: Carrie Stevenson

Do you have a favorite tree? Often, the trees in our lives tell a story.

One of the selling points when we bought our house 14 years ago was the tall, healthy Southern magnolia in the front yard. It was beautiful, and I could see it out my front window. A perfect shade tree, I could envision a swing hanging from its branches one day. Within six months of moving into the house, Hurricane Ivan struck. A neighbor’s tree fell and sheared off a quarter of the branches from our beloved magnolia. We were lucky to have minimal damage otherwise, and hoped the tree would survive.

The branches and leaves eventually filled in, and we added that swing I had imagined. One day I was pushing my daughter in the swing, when a car slowed on our street and stopped at our mailbox. A man stepped out and asked, “Are you enjoying that tree?” I responded that we very much were, and with a smile, he explained that his family built our house and that he planted that very magnolia tree 40 years before, when his son was born. He was so happy to see us enjoying the tree that he could not help but stop.

I was so grateful to hear that story and know that our family’s favorite tree held such special meaning. Our enjoyment existed because of the joyous celebration of a new birth. That is why we plant trees. For the benefit of those yet unborn, to commemorate special moments, and to provide the very oxygen we breathe. As the Greek proverb goes, “Society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”

January 19 is Florida’s Arbor Day, a time to celebrate the many benefits of trees, and the day is often celebrated by planting new trees. Winter is the best time of year to plant trees, as they are able to establish roots without competing with the energy needs of new branches and leaves that come along in springtime.

“The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.” –Anonymous

Check with your local Extension offices, garden clubs, and municipalities to find out if there is an Arbor Day event near you! Several local agencies have joined forces to organize tree giveaway events in observance of Florida’s Arbor Day.

Escambia County:

Thursday, January 18:
Deadline for UF IFAS Extension/Escambia County’s second annual Arbor Day Mail Art Contest. To participate, mail a drawing, painting, or mixed media artwork with the theme, “Strong Trees, Strong Communities” to Arbor Day Art Contest c/o Escambia County Extension, 3740 Stefani Road, Cantonment, FL 32533. Please include your name, age, and contact information on the back of your artwork. Contest entries must arrive by mail or be dropped off by Jan. 18 and will be judged at the tree giveaway on Jan. 20 at Barrineau Park Community Center.
First place winners of the art contest will receive prizes including a seven-gallon tree, a shovel, and a tree book. Second place winners will receive a tree book and third place winners will receive gardening gloves. Categories include children (12-under), teen (13-18), and adult (over 18). All participants in attendance at the tree giveaway will receive a special edition Arbor Day water bottle featuring last year’s winning design.

Many communities plant trees to celebrate Arbor Day. Photo credit: Carrie Stevenson

Saturday, January 20th
Escambia County will hold their tree giveaway and public planting from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Jan. 20 at Barrineau Park Community Center, located at 6055 Barrineau Park Road, Molino. Support for the event is provided by the Florida Forest Service, Resource Management Services, and Escambia County UF-IFAS Extension. Each attendee will receive two free native 1-gallon trees. Species available include tulip poplar, Chickasaw plum, Shumard oak, and fringetree.
For more information about either Escambia event, contact Carrie Stevenson, Coastal Sustainability Agent III, UF IFAS Extension, at 850-475-5230 or ctsteven@ufl.edu.

Santa Rosa County:

Friday, January 19
10 am—Navarre Garden Club Arbor Day celebration. Foresters will give away 1-gallon containerized trees and conduct a have tree planting demo. 7254 Navarre Parkway, Navarre, 32566. For more information, contact Mary Salinas, 850-623-3868 or maryd@santarosa.fl.gov

Saturday, January 20th
10 am—Milton Garden Club Arbor Day celebration. Foresters will give away 1-gallon containerized trees and conduct a have tree planting demo. 5256 Alabama Street, Milton. For more information, contact Mary Salinas, 850-623-3868 or maryd@santarosa.fl.gov

Leon County:

Saturday, January 20th
9am to 12pm – City of Tallahassee/Leon County Arbor Day Celebration – Join City and County Staff, UF/IFAS Leon County Extension Faculty and Master Gardener volunteers at the Apalachee Regional Park (7550 Apalachee Pkwy) for a tree planting in honor of Arbor Day. Citizens are invited to come help plant hundreds of trees in the park and also learn about the benefits of trees, how to properly plant a tree, and after the planting is done, take a tree identification walk. For more information, contact Mindy Mohrman, City/County Urban Forester at 850.891.6415 or melinda.mohrman@talgov.com

Winter is For Tree Planting

Winter is For Tree Planting

4H youth assist an IFAS Extension agent in planting a tree. July 2008 IFAS Extension Calendar Photo. 4H children planting a small tree. 4H Club, youth groups, planting. UF/IFAS Photo: Josh Wickham.

Florida has celebrated Arbor Day since 1886 and has one of the first Arbor Day celebrations in the nation, on the third Friday in January.  Trees establish a root system quickly when they aren’t expending as much energy on leaf development.  So in Florida that is in the winter months; hence the reason for a January date for Arbor Day.  However, installation anytime between October and March are suitable for most tree species.  Palms are the exception.  They require warm soil in order to root, so it best to plant them from April to August.

Planting and establishing trees is all about managing air and water in the soil.  Three of the most common causes of poor plant establishment or even death include installing too deeply, under watering, and over watering.  By selecting the appropriate species for the site, planting it at the correct depth, and irrigating properly trees should establish successfully.  As simple as that sounds, many trees fail before they ever mature in the landscape.

Here are the ten steps to proper tree planting:

  1. Look up for wires and lights when choosing a site. Make sure that the location is more than 15 feet from a structure. Call 811 for underground utilities spotting at no cost.
  2. Remove any synthetic or metal materials from the top of the root ball.
  3. Find the topmost root (where the trunk meets the roots) and remove root defects, such as encircling roots. Loosed the root ball.
  4. Dig a shallow container-sized hole.
  5. Carefully place the tree in the hole. Don’t damage the trunk or break branches.
  6. Position the topmost root 1-2 inches above the soil grade.
  7. Straighten the tree. Be sure to check from two directions.
  8. Widen the hole to add backfill soil.
  9. Water to check for air pockets and hydrate the root ball. Add 3-4 inch thick layer of mulch at the edge of the root ball, with little to no mulch on top of the root ball.
  10. Prune for structural strength and damage removal. Stake if necessary in windy areas or if required by code.

These are probably not the steps used by previous generations.  Twenty years of research has improved the techniques required for tree survival.  Every year more and more trees are removed from storm damage, pest infestations, and development.  Winter is time to add them back to both the urban and rural environments.  Celebrate Arbor Day.  Plant a tree.  But, install it properly.  Give your grandchildren the opportunity to enjoy it well into their adulthood.

Arbor Day in Florida

Arbor Day in Florida

shoveling The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is for Arbor Day.  Florida recognizes the event on the third Friday in January, but planting any time before spring will establish a tree quickly.

 

Arbor Day is an annual observance that celebrates the role of trees in our lives and promotes tree planting and care. As a formal holiday, it was first observed on April 10, 1872 in the state of Nebraska.  Today, every state and many countries join in the recognition of trees impact on people and the environment.

 

Trees are the longest living organisms on the planet and one of the earth’s greatest natural resources. They keep our air supply clean, reduce noise pollution, improve water quality, help prevent erosion, provide food and building materials, create shade, and help make our landscapes look beautiful.  A single tree produces approximately 260 pounds of oxygen per year.  That means two mature trees can water insupply enough oxygen annually to support a family of four.

 

The idea for Arbor Day in the U.S. began with Julius Sterling Morton. In 1854 he moved from Detroit to the area that is now the state of Nebraska.  J. Sterling Morton was a journalist and nature lover who noticed that there were virtually no trees in Nebraska.  He wrote and spoke about environmental stewardship and encouraged everyone to plant trees.  Morton emphasized that trees were needed to act as windbreaks, to stabilize the soil, to provide shade, as well as, fuel and building materials for the early pioneers to prosper in the developing state.

 

In 1872, The State Board of Agriculture accepted a resolution by J. Sterling Morton “to set aside one day to plant trees, both forest and fruit.” On April 10, 1872 one million trees were planted in Nebraska in honor of the first Arbor Day.  Shortly after the 1872 observance, several other states passed legislation to observe Arbor Day.  By 1920, 45 states and territories celebrated Arbor Day.  Richard Nixon proclaimed the last Friday in April as National Arbor Day during his presidency in 1970.

 

Today, all 50 states in the U.S. have official Arbor Day, usually at a time of year that has the correct climatological conditions for planting trees. For Florida, the ideal tree planting time is January, so Florida’s Arbor Day is celebrated on the third Friday of the month.  Similar events are observed throughout the world.  In Israel it is the Tu B Shevat (New Year for Trees).  Germany has Tag des Baumes .  Japan and Korea celebrate an entire week in April.  Even, Iceland one of the treeless countries in the world observes Student’s Afforestation Day.

 

The trees planted on Arbor Day show a concern for future generations. The simple act of planting a tree represents a belief that the tree will grow and some day provide wood products, wildlife habitat erosion control, shelter from wind and sun, beauty, and inspiration for ourselves and our children.

 

“It is well that you should celebrate your Arbor Day thoughtfully, for within your lifetime the nation’s need of trees will become serious. We of an older generation can get along with what we have, though with growing hardship; but in your full manhood and womanhood you will want what nature once so bountifully supplied and man so thoughtlessly destroyed; and because of that want you will reproach us, not for what we have used, but for what we have wasted.”

~Theodore Roosevelt, 1907 Arbor Day Message

Florida Arbor Day

Florida Arbor Day

Author Sheila Dunning removes tree from nursery pot and prepares for planting.
Photo courtesy of UF/IFAS Okaloosa County Extension

The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago.  The second best time is Arbor Day 2014.  Florida recognizes the event on the third Friday in January, so the next one is January 17, 2014.

 

Arbor Day is an annual observance that celebrates the role of trees in our lives and promotes tree planting and care.  As a formal holiday, it was first observed on April 10, 1872 in the state of Nebraska.  Today, every state and many countries join in the recognition of trees impact on people and the environment.

 

Trees are the longest living organisms on the planet and one of the earth’s greatest natural resources.  They keep our air supply clean, reduce noise pollution, improve water quality, help prevent erosion, provide food and building materials, create shade, and help make our landscapes look beautiful.  A single tree produces approximately 260 pounds of oxygen per year.  That means two mature trees can supply enough oxygen annually to support a family of four.

 

The idea for Arbor Day in the U.S. began with Julius Sterling Morton.  In 1854,   he moved from Detroit to the area that is now the state of Nebraska.  J. Sterling Morton was a journalist and nature lover who noticed that there were virtually no trees in Nebraska.  He wrote and spoke about environmental stewardship and encouraged everyone to plant trees.  Morton emphasized that trees were needed to act as windbreaks, to stabilize the soil, to provide shade, as well as, fuel and building materials for the early pioneers to prosper in the developing state.

 

Sheila works with homeowners to properly install trees. Proper size holes and correct height are important considerations. Click image to learn more. Photo courtesy of UF/IFAS Okaloosa County Extension.

In 1872, The State Board of Agriculture accepted a resolution by J. Sterling Morton “to set aside one day to plant trees, both forest and fruit.”  On April 10, 1872 one million trees were planted in Nebraska in honor of the first Arbor Day.  Shortly after the 1872 observance, several other states passed legislation to observe Arbor Day.  By 1920, 45 states and territories celebrated Arbor Day.  Richard Nixon proclaimed the last Friday in April as National Arbor Day during his presidency in 1970.

 

Today, all 50 states in the U.S. have official Arbor Day, usually at a time of year that has the correct climatological conditions for planting trees.  For Florida, the ideal tree planting time is January, so Florida’s Arbor Day is celebrated on the third Friday of the month.  Similar events are observed throughout the world.  In Israel it is the Tu B Shevat (New Year for Trees) on January 16, 2014.  Germany has Tag des Baumes on April 25.  Japan and Korea celebrate an entire week in April.  Even, Iceland, one of the most treeless countries, in the world observes Student’s Afforestation Day.

 

Trees planted on Arbor Day show a concern for future generations.  The simple act of planting a tree represents a belief that the tree will grow and some day provide wood products, wildlife habitat erosion control, shelter from wind and sun, beauty, and inspiration for ourselves and our children.

 

Trees provide us with many benefits: Across multiple generations they provide beauty, stormwater and sound abatement, and of course fresh air and oxygen.
Photo by Sheila Dunning.

“It is well that you should celebrate your Arbor Day thoughtfully, for within your lifetime the nation’s need of trees will become serious. We of an older generation can get along with what we have, though with growing hardship; but in your full manhood and womanhood you will want what nature once so bountifully supplied and man so thoughtlessly destroyed; and because of that want you will reproach us, not for what we have used, but for what we have wasted.”

~Theodore Roosevelt, 1907 Arbor Day Message

 

To learn more about Florida’s native trees and how to select appropriate trees for your home or property visit http://hort.ufl.edu/woody/species.shtml