Plant a Tree
Friday is Arbor Day. First observed in 1872, Arbor Day exists to inspire people to plant, nurture and celebrate trees.
A picture biography, Planting the Trees of Kenya, conveys the spirit of Arbor Day to young readers and listeners. The story of Wangari Maathai, who received the Nobel Prize for starting the Green Belt Movement to replenish cleared trees and restore the health and economy of her country, will inspire all who read it.
Homeowners can get specific tree value data from the National Tree Benefit Calculator at www.davey.com. Go to "Ask the Expert" and click on "What is my tree worth?" Enter your zip code and select the tree to learn the economic and ecological value in dollars and cents of your tree.
To learn about tree species suitable for specific conditions, consult Native Trees for North American Landscapes by Guy Sternberg and Jim Wilson. For each tree featured, text and photographs describe the tree, its leaves, flowers, fruit, range, culture, problems, and cultivars. Photos show each tree in several seasons.
Find detailed instructions for planting trees at pubs.ext.vt.edu, along with many helpful articles on tree species, selection, and care. Check out "24 Ways to Kill a Tree". To insure the health and long life of your tree, dig a wide hole (roots want to spread out laterally in the top soil layer) and do not top the tree.
Pruning is one garden task that worries many gardeners. The standard guide, The Pruning of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers by George E. Brown, provides clear instructions for each species, detailing when, how, and how much to remove.
The Tree Doctor by Daniel and Erin Prendergast covers tree planting, care, and maintenance. It includes helpful sections on diagnosing plant problems, protecting trees from damage, and when and how to hire an arborist.
Each year, many school students ask for help with tree identification assignments. In addition to the several tree identification books at the library, we recommend consulting the Arbor Day Foundation’s What Tree Is That? webpage at www.arborday.org.
The Historic Trees program distributes offspring from trees grown at famous and historic sites. You can grow a redbud from George Washington's River Farm, a honey locust from Gettysburg, a red maple from Walden Woods, a sweetgum from Graceland. For details, visit www.historictrees.org.
The National Register of Big Trees at americanforests.org/resources/bigtrees got its start in 1940 when the magazine American Forests put out a call to find the location and measurement of the largest specimen of American tree species. In 2010, the register named 733 champion trees from 637 species, and listed 221 eligible species for which there is no named champion. Some years ago, Louise Hoge of Burke’s Garden nominated several of her Burke’s Garden trees to the register, seeing unclaimed spots on the throne. Her nominations were approved and duly recognized as champions. The next year, she was caught off guard, however, when a carload of visitors from Georgia drove up to see her champion peach tree.
Some entire tree species have attained championship status in our culture, owing to their great contribution to the economy and environment. Three fascinating tree biographies are American Chestnut: the life, death, and rebirth of a perfect tree by Susan Freinkel, Looking for Longleaf: the fall and rise of an American forest by Lawrence S. Earley, and Oak: the frame of civilization by William Bryant Logan.
Trees can sometimes present problems with neighbors. If that is the case, it could be very helpful to read up on Neighbor Law: fences, trees, boundaries & noise by Cora Jordan.
More commonly and happily, however, trees are a source of nourishment and inspiration as they play an integral part in our environment. In Teaching the Trees: lessons from the forest, Joan Maloof reflects on the interwoven connections between a tree species and the animals and insects whose lives depend on it.
For more about trees, their selection and care, visit www.tcplweb.org or call 988-2541.