Many people wonder; What is Arbor Day? Well, Arbor Day is an annual observance of the importance of trees in our lives and has been celebrated since 1872. It promotes the planting of trees which civilization has always done in the form of tree planting parties. The tree has always been a prominent symbol in literature and history representing life.
Arbor day originated in the state of Nebraska and was headed by J. Sterling Morton. He and his wife Caroline were avid lovers of nature and agriculture. They quickly established their home and planted it with various trees and shrubs. Morton , who was a journalist, became editor of Nebraska’s first newspaper and used that forum to write articles and spread the word about agriculture and nature. Nebraska was a treeless plain and the inhabitants quickly learned that they needed the trees for windbreaks, fuel, building materials and shade.
People were taking quick hold of Morton’s proposals and ideals on the interconnectedness of nature and the importance for environmental stewardship through the planting and proper care of trees. He encouraged everyone to set aside one day a year to plant trees of both fruit and forest . He proposed this to the State Board of Agriculture and they quickly declared Arbor Day to be April 10th. On the first Arbor Day in Nebraska, over one million trees were planted. Other states took notice and followed suit, and soon all throughout the world people of all ages were planting trees, caring for them and learning the value of adding them to the landscape.
The United States festival for tree planting is called Arbor Day, in Israel it is the New Years Day of Trees, in Korea it is Tree-Loving week, and India celebrates a National Festival of Tree Planting. Each country or state has it’s own name and many of them have modified the original date to coincide with their regional climates and the best times for tree planting so that the trees will thrive.
April 22nd is J. Sterling Morton’s birthday which was the original celebration date for the event. Today it is usually celebrated on the last Friday in April as National Arbor Day. Arbor Day in California is officially celebrated during the dates of March 7-14th. California’s State tree is the California Redwood.
In California we are fortunate to have the climate to plant trees throughout many months, especially in the Sacramento Valley. Take the time to check out the Arbor Day Foundations website where they have a plethora of information and suggestions for planting with kids and environmental stewardship through the planting of trees and connecting with nature in your community. Our region is rich with trees, and even though some of us may suffer from allergies, the trees are our suppliers of beauty, oxygen, renewable resources, wildlife habitat, and promise for our future generations.
Planting trees is a great activity to do with kids and it beautifies your community. So whether it is the official Arbor Day or just a Saturday, get involved in the concept and celebrate by planting a tree of your own. My son and I dug in and got our hands dirty planting a dwarf orange tree. Last year we proudly moved our gorgeous Japanese Maple from a large container to the ground. Prominently placed in front of our home to brighten up the landscape with it’s fiery red leaves. My son Dakota loves caring for the trees, watering them, giving the maple some coffee grounds for acidity in the soil ( the acidity makes them turn red and vibrant) and checking the orange to see if there are any blossoms yet. He is proud that he planted the trees, and is now always wanting to do yard work! Please let us know what kind of tree you decide to plant.
Go on, hug a tree…you know you want to.
For more information on arbor day please visit: http://www.arborday.org
For the Arbor Day Foundations free, downloadable PDF booklet on celebrating and planting trees for Arbor Day, please visit: http://www.arborday.org/arborday/celebrate.cfm
For more information on the collaborative effort from the Arbor Day Foundation and Dimensions Educational Research Foundation program to involve kids in nature called Nature Explore, please visit: http://www.arborday.org/explore/
For more information on Dimensions Educational Research Foundation, please visit: http://www.dimensionsfoundation.org/