Just as an athletic team trains in the offseason or during the week for the games coming up, we gardeners are constantly training and learning new things. Some are outright mundane and give a lot of time for the mind to freewheel. Other activities are more engaging or challenging and take more concentration to learn, implement and ultimately master.
The die-hard gardeners among us do all they can to extend the season, either by growing whatever they can indoors through the winter, or by investing a lot of dreaming time and planning for the upcoming season. These horticulturists can be likened to the loyal fans of a professional sports team. Win or lose, they’re there, in their season-ticket seats.
As the weather warms, and the retail centers put out their plant and garden wares, it seems like everyone is a gardener! That’s fine with me, because it’s my hope that more and more people who are trying their hand at growing a bit of vegetables or putting in a small flower bed “catch the bug” and become avid yardscapists. The more the merrier!
Whatever way you classify yourself, there is a “game day” coming up for those that possess any from a mild to consuming interest in growing greenery. Yup. Arbor Day is almost here!
Arbor Day draws attention to the importance of trees and the sustenance and enjoyment we get from them. And, that’s a good thing!
I do have to admit that the first time I paid attention to the title of the day, it confused me. You see, my background and interest is in woodworking and related tools. An “arbor” in that setting is the shaft that a blade or bit is affixed to. My table saw has a 5/8-inch arbor where the saw blade is installed using a large washer and reverse-threaded nut.
Like many words in the English language, the same term can mean different things. The “arbor” in Arbor Day originates from the Latin term for “tree.” So, the plain interpretation is that what is coming up is “tree day.” This day, in the U.S., is commonly celebrated the last Friday in April. The day originated with the National Arbor Day Foundation in the late 1800s.
I’ve written this article one week in advance with the hopes that you will include some great local area Arbor Day events in your calendar a week from this Friday! I’ll tell you more at the end of this article.
The contribution that trees make to our quality of life is impossible to quantify. Not only are trees beautiful, they also create shade, recreational areas, and habitat for wildlife. Without them, we would not have access to the wide range of wood products we enjoy, and our home spaces would be quite different than they are. They are a renewable resource, and with modern forest management practices, and interest in conservation by private and public entities, it can be argued that we now have more trees actively growing in the U.S. than we did 100 years ago! To read some good conversation and debate on the subject, simply enter the search phrase “are there more trees in the U.S. now than 100 years ago?” and see what you get!
Trees, like other actively growing plants and shrubs, make it possible for us to live. Without photosynthesis, the absorption of carbon dioxide, and the generation of oxygen, we would be goners. Yet it’s incredibly easy to take trees for granted. They become a, well, part of the landscape and almost invisible to us.
And that, my friends, is precisely the value of Arbor Day. We can intentionally contemplate, and recognize anew, the trees around and how much they contribute to our lives and collective memories.
Many of my best childhood memories include trees. Trips to the forests on Mount Lemmon north of Tucson was always a highlight and a fantastic adventure. Large mesquite and acacia trees in the Sonoran Desert were places of shelter and gave a sense of belonging when setting up camp under their limbs. I’ll not go into detail about the time I rode my bike fast under a mesquite tree, stood up on the pedals, grabbed a branch, and had the bark come off in my hands. There was a resulting unfortunate episode of flight, landing flat on my back, hitting my head on a rock and losing my vision for about an hour — but I digress.
Suffice it to say that most of the associations I have with trees are positive ones, and I would bet the majority of your experiences with trees are on the plus side as well! So, I say, long live Arbor Day! I can always use another nudge towards being thankful and aware of the blessings in my life — including trees.
Tooele City’s annual Arbor Day event on April 29 will once again be hosted by my friend and gardening mentor Barbara Barlow. The get-together will be at Speirs Farm at 394 W. 200 South, beginning at 6:30 p.m. and lasting about 90 minutes. You don’t need to reserve — just show up!
The Tooele County Master Gardeners will be honoring Mayor Grant “Bud” Pendleton (who will be present, along with his wife Marlene) in a presentation and ceremony. Mr. Pendleton served as Tooele City Mayor from 1994-97 as well as earlier service as Tooele County Treasurer for multiple terms. He was key in the efforts to have Detroit Diesel Remanufacturing set up operations in what is now Ninigret Depot.
Make sure to come and meet the Pendletons and enjoy some great music and light refreshments while you hear some of Tooele’s fascinating history. You’ll meet some great people, and gain a fresh appreciation for trees as well as Mayor Pendleton’s contribution to Tooele.
Grantsville also has a wonderful Arbor Day program designed to both encourage planting of trees throughout the city, as well as engage schoolchildren to foster a strong appreciation of trees.
Not only will the annual city-sponsored tree sale for Grantsville residents be in full force this year, there is yet another great elementary school program happening as well.
Between Willow and Grantsville Elementary schools, there are eight fifth-grade classes totaling 229 students. A poster contest is underway and each of those eight classes will have a winning entry. The theme is “Trees are Terrific for our Health and Happiness.” The winner in each class will each be given a tree, provided by Grantsville City. I’ve been to one of these events, and the enthusiasm of the kids is contagious!
Grantsville citizens can also participate in the “Street Tree Sale,” and buy two trees for half price — the city will pay the other half. The trees are for planting in park strips or street-facing areas. Additional trees can be purchased for residential yards for $72 each. The deadline to order is TOMORROW, Friday, April 22. Visit www.grantsvilleut.gov and click on the 2016 Street Trees Application Form link or stop by the city offices. The trees will be ready for pickup on Friday the 29th at the Grantsville City Hall. This highly successful program has resulted in the planting of more than 1,600 trees since 2003, and you can see the impact when you drive through town.
Lastly, I challenge you to plant a tree in your yardscape this season. The best time to plant a tree is 10 years ago, so the faster you get to it, the better. As spring comes on and the plants and trees roar to life around our yardscape, the current me appreciates the past me for getting trees planted in some new areas over the last few seasons. In fact, I’m heading out right now to enjoy some great conversation and companionship with my bride as we do some weed-pulling, pruning and take in the sounds of the many birds that call our place home. We’re also going to plant a beautiful Golden Chain tree that was a gift from some wonderful friends. And when it gets a bit warm for our tastes, we’ll take a brief rest under the shade of one of our leafy companions. It’s a great life.
Jay Cooper can be contacted at email@example.com, or you can visit youtube.com/dirtfarmerjay for videos on gardening, shop skills, culinary arts and landscaping.