Arbor Day: Planting a Beautiful Future

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If you want to create a lasting legacy of beauty, plant a tree.  If you want to heal the planet and counteract climate change, plant a tree.  If you want to improve the quality of life for yourself, your family and your immediate neighbors, plant a tree.

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Trees change the world.  They create shade, sequester carbon,  produce oxygen, humidify the air, hold and feed the soil, create habitat for wildlife, support the entire ecosystem, and give a place character.  And in their spare time, they sway in the wind; helping forecast the weather and making musical, soothing sounds.

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Trees inspire awe and wonder.  Some survive to extreme old age; experiencing centuries of life and service.  Trees feed us, shelter us, and mark the passing of the seasons with their annual changes.

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Today is Arbor Day.  First celebrated in the United States in Nebraska, when a million trees were planted in 1872, this remarkable day is observed all over the United States and around the world.  Some call it ‘Tree Planting Day.”  It is a day to reflect on the importance of trees, and to add a tree or two to our environment.

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Other than loving and teaching a child, planting and protecting trees is one of the most satisfying pursuits of a lifetime. Both require faith that our simple acts today will resonate far into the future, creating positive change, and shaping how our community transforms itself for good.

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A potted Ginko tree that I adoped in early spring, represents one of the earliest trees on the planet, still growing today.  Fossils of this tree’s leaves date to 270 million years ago. Its leaves turn vibrant golden yellow in late autumn.

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So please celebrate Arbor Day this weekend in a way that feels fitting to you.  Commit an “Act of Green” to somehow enrich your life and community.

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I have been planting Japanese Maple trees this spring.  You might say I’m collecting them at the moment. Japanese Maple trees, with their exquisite leaves, add a bit of elegance to our wild garden.

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The first two I came across were small enough to plant into interesting pots to keep on our deck this summer.  The third, as tall as I am, came to me last weekend at a community plant sale.  I have tucked its roots into a moist and sheltered spot beside the Butterfly Garden.  And so I have committed my “Act of Green” this Arbor Day, and I trust you have, as well.

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If you’ve not had a chance, there is plenty of time this weekend to get outside, visit a park or garden center, plant up a pot of something, and find your own special way to make our planet a big healthier, a bit greener, and a lot more beautiful.

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A tiny investment today can yield a lifetime of satisfaction and beauty.

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Woodland Gnome 2018

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“The planting of a tree,
especially one of the long-living hardwood trees,
is a gift which you can make to posterity at almost no cost
and with almost no trouble,
and if the tree takes root
it will far outlive the visible effect
of any of your other actions,
good or evil.”

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George Orwell
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Tree Wisdom

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“If you would know strength and patience, welcome the company of trees.” 

Hal Borland

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“Break open a cherry tree and there are no flowers, but the spring breeze brings forth myriad blossoms.”
Ikkyu Sojun

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“I am not bound for any public place, but for ground of my own where I have planted vines and orchard trees, and in the heat of the day climbed up into the healing shadow of the woods.”
Wendell Berry

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The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.”

Nelson Henderson

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For in the true nature of things, if we rightly consider, every green tree is far more glorious than if it were made of gold and silver.”

Martin Luther

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“They are beautiful in their peace, they are wise in their silence. They will stand after we are dust. They teach us, and we tend them.”
  Galeain ip Altiem MacDunelmor

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“No wonder the hills and groves were God’s first temples, and the more they are cut down and hewn into cathedrals and churches, the farther off and dimmer seems the Lord himself.”
John Muir

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“Trees are poems that earth writes upon the sky,
We fell them down and turn them into paper,
That we may record our emptiness.”


Kahlil Gibran

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“God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods.  But he cannot save them from fools.” 

John Muir

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“Trees outstrip most people in the extent and depth of their work for the public good.” 

Sara Ebenreck, American Forests

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The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago.  The next best time is now. 

Chinese Proverb

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National Arbor Day comes on  April 25, 2014, only a few days after Earth Day on April 22.

Planting trees, and participating in community activities to beautify public areas are traditional ways to celebrate these special days.  Trees are crucial to our survival on the planet, because they generate the oxygen we breathe.  They soak up ground water and rain water, using it for growth, and the releasing it as water vapor to the sky.  Trees absorb vast quantities of carbon dioxide from our air and fix the carbon in their wood and leaves.  They filter many other airborn elements out of the air each day, many of them toxic, leaving the air we breathe clean,moist, and full of life-giving oxygen.  They stop erosion, and maintain fertility in the soil

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Our neighborhood has lost many trees in recent years.  Two hurricanes and many strong thunderstorms have toppled many of our oldest, most beautiful trees over the last dozen years.  Although no one has been killed in their home from a falling tree, much property damage and expensive clean up has resulted from wind damage to our forest.

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Neighbors, fearful for their homes, have had beautiful, healthy trees cut down entirely.  Others have realized that thinning and pruning allows the trees to withstand the wind, without destroying them.

I’ve spent several sleepless nights listening to trees groaning in hurricane force winds, wondering what trees might fall and where.

Destroying our trees is not the answer, however.  Management and stewardship of our beautiful forest maintains the beauty and character of our community, while protecting life and property.

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An important part of stewardship includes replanting the trees we have lost.

We can replace what’s been lost, wisely, to insure the forest remains for those who will follow us.

We can choose trees which don’t topple easily in the wind, plant shorter varieties which won’t fall on our homes, and place our new trees wisely in the garden.

We can select varieties which feed and shelter the many birds and butterflies who have shared this community with us, so their populations are supported.

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Plant a tree. 

Learn how to get free trees from the Arbor Day Foundation

Help repopulate a forest in need.

All Photos by Woodland Gnome 2010-2014

More Tree Wisdom (Part 2)

Pruning

Obsession: Botany, and Empire, As sen from Jamestown

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