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“Can I run out to the trees?” my 9-year old asks me on a regular if not daily basis. I almost always say yes. By “trees” my child is talking about a row of adolescent sycamores planted in a graceful curve as your enter our neighborhood. With their milky white and grey mottled bark and their thick outward reaching lowest branches, these trees are perfect for climbing, for sitting in and contemplating life, for sitting under and daydreaming, for building forts and whole imaginary worlds around. My child has one tree which she refers respectfully and protectively to as “my tree.”
Now we could have a philosophical debate here about the importance of helping my child to transcend a human-centric worldview in which all things on the planet are here to serve her (or us), and the impossibility of ever “owning” something so independently wonderful as a tree. All of which are important. But here’s the thing: I am just so happy my child has trees to climb, that she is happy climbing them and somewhere inside her developing brain and heart a powerful connection to the beauty and importance of trees is already deeply seated.
Trees and forests comprise the globe’s second largest carbon reservoirs, absorbing harmful carbon dioxide and emit beneficial oxygen – and as such are critical to the health and well-being of our planet. They are like our lungs. As gardeners or naturalists, trees hold a special charm – they form the protective and life sustaining canopy in our forests, they are integral to our sense of place and space wherever we live. In both our larger environments and our personal home gardens, trees create a sense of architecture, punctuation and drama.
A connection to trees is as important to the lives of the trees around us as it is perhaps to our lives, Marie Stadther believes. Marie, also known as The Tree Goddess, is the Lead Gardener for the McConnell Arboretum and Botanical Gardens at Turtle Bay in Redding, and her “whole goal is to help people see trees. Appreciate them. Value them. Understand and care for them. They are after all living beings,” she points out, and she for one is “grateful to be surrounded by trees. To be able to feel them and to feel connected to them.” After many years working with and for the benefit of trees and landscapes, a few years ago Marie developed a series of on-going tree-related education classes offered to the public by the McConnell Arboretum and Botanical Gardens. On March 19th, 2011 she goes one step further and realizes a dream and goal of hers to have a full-on Arbor Day celebration at the Arboretum and Botanical Gardens.
On March 19th, 2011 from 11 am – 2 pm the Arbor Day Celebration hosted by Turtle Bay and North Valley Tree Re-Leaf! (Marie’s new organization) will feature presentations by local arboriculture professionals on selection, planting, and care of trees in Shasta County. Visitors will learn hands-on proper planting techniques and will help plant a memorial tree in the Botanical Gardens. Live music and interpretative readings in the gardens will round out the festivities and Turtle Bay’s Museum Teen Volunteers (MTV’s) and Charlie Rabbit will be there for face painting, story reading, and guiding children of all ages through fun interactive, tree-related crafts and projects. The city is providing free tree saplings for homeowners to take home and plant in their own gardens.
What better way to celebrate Arbor Day than to plant a few trees? One for your community, one for your family. Both for posterity.
First celebrated on April 10, 1872 in Nebraska, Arbor Day was conceived of by Nebraska writer, politician and agricultural advocate, Julius Sterling Morton (1832-1902). As a member of Nebraska’s state board of agriculture, Morton wanted the state to dedicate one day a year to tree planting and awareness of the importance of trees. According to arbor-day.net: “On Nebraska’s first Arbor Day more than one million trees were planted. A second Arbor Day took place in 1884 and the young state made it an annual legal holiday in 1885, using April 22nd to coincide with Morton’s birthday.”
“Currently, all 50 states celebrate Arbor Day although the dates may vary in keeping with local climates. In 1970, President Richard Nixon proclaimed the last Friday in April as National Arbor Day. Arbor Day is also now celebrated in other countries including Australia. Variations are celebrated as ‘Greening Week’ of Japan, ‘The New Year’s Days of Trees’ in Israel, ‘The Tree-loving Week’ of Korea, ‘The Reforestation Week’ of Yugoslavia, ‘The Students’ Afforestation Day’ of Iceland and ‘The National Festival of Tree Planting’ in India.”
Also from arbor-day.net: Here is a list of Arbor Days by state, with state trees in brackets:
Alabama Last full week in February (Longleaf Pine)
Alaska Third Monday in May (Sitka Spruce)
Arizona Last Friday in April (Paloverde)
Arkansas Third Monday in March ( Pine)
California March 7-14 (California Redwood)
Colorado Third Friday in April ( Blue Spruce)
Connecticut April 30 ( White Oak)
Delaware Last Friday in April ( American Holly)
District of Columbia Last Friday in April (Scarlet Oak)
Florida Third Friday in January ( Cabbage Palmetto)
Georgia Third Friday in February ( Live Oak)
Hawaii First Friday in November (Kukui)
Idaho Last Friday in April ( Western White Pine)
Illinois Last Friday in April ( White Oak)
Indiana Last Friday in April (Tuliptree)
Iowa Last Friday in April (Oak)
Kansas Last Friday in March (Cottonwood)
Kentucky First Friday in April (Tulip Poplar)
Louisiana Third Friday in January (Baldcypress)
Maine Third full week in May ( Eastern White Pine)
Maryland First Wednesday in April ( White Oak)
Massachusetts April 28-May 5 ( American Elm)
Michigan Last Friday in April ( Eastern White Pine)
Minnesota Last Friday in April (Red Pine)
Mississippi Second Friday in February ( Southern Magnolia)
Missouri First Friday in April ( Flowering Dogwood)
Montana Last Friday in April (Ponderosa Pine)
Nebraska Last Friday in April (Cottonwood)
Nevada Southern: February 28; Northern: April 23 (Singleleaf Pinyon)
New Hampshire Last Friday in April ( Paper Birch)
New Jersey Last Friday in April ( Northern Red Oak)
New Mexico Second Friday in March (Pinyon)
New York Last Friday in April ( Sugar Maple)
North Carolina First Friday following March 15 ( Pine)
North Dakota First Friday in May ( American Elm)
Ohio Last Friday in April (Ohio Buckeye)
Oklahoma Last full week in March (Eastern Redbud)
Oregon First full week in April (Douglas Fir)
Pennsylvania Last Friday in April (Eastern Hemlock)
Rhode Island Last Friday in April ( Red Maple)
South Carolina First Friday in December ( Cabbage Palmetto)
South Dakota Last Friday in April ( White Spruce)
Tennessee First Friday in March (Yellow Poplar)
Texas Last Friday in April (Pecan)
Utah Last Friday in April ( Blue Spruce)
Vermont First Friday in May ( Sugar Maple)
Virginia Second Friday in April ( Flowering Dogwood)
Washington Second Wednesday in April (Western Hemlock)
West Virginia Second Friday in April ( Sugar Maple)
Wisconsin Last Friday in April ( Sugar Maple)
Wyoming Last Monday in April (Cottonwood)
For more information on Arbor Day or on the planting and care of trees, try these books and websites:
“The Sibley Guide to Trees,” by David Allen Sibley, Knopf Publishing, 2009.
“A Natural History of North American Trees, by Donald Culross Peattie, Houghton Mifflin Publishing, 2007.
“The Year in Trees: Superb Woody Plants for Four Season Gardens,” by Kim E. Tripp and J.C. Raulston, Timber Press, 2002.
“How to Prune Fruit Trees” by R. Sanford Martin, she says is a great guide for homeowners, and
Ed Gilman’s website is great for those that want more up-to-date technical info. She uses a lot of his information for her classes, “although I have to alter it for California since he’s in Florida,” she points out.
The Arbor Day Foundation: http://www.arborday.org/
Fruit Tree Planting Foundation: http://www.ftpf.org/
TURTLE BAY’S McCONNELL ARBORETUM AND BOTANICAL GARDEN NURSERY is located at 1100 ARBORETUM DRIVE REDDING, CALIFORNIA. DIRECTIONS: From downtown Redding take North Market Street, turn on Arboretum Drive (Dutch Bros. Coffee on the corner) Take right fork on Arboretum Drive. Parking lot on the left. Enter through Nursery Gate from parking lot.
For seasonal hours of operation, please visit the website: www.turtlebay.org.
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In a North State Garden is a weekly Northstate Public Radio and web-based program celebrating the art, craft and science of home gardening in Northern California. It is made possible in part by the Gateway Science Museum – Exploring the Natural History of the North State and on the campus of CSU, Chico. In a North State Garden is conceived, written, photographed and hosted by Jennifer Jewell – all rights reserved jewellgarden.com. In a North State Garden airs on Northstate Public Radio Saturday mornings at 7:34 AM Pacific time and Sunday morning at 8:34 AM Pacific time. Podcasts of past shows are available here.