Spring Gardening Special Section: Earth Day, Arbor Day, great times to plant trees

Published on Thu, Apr 21, 2011 by Naomi Knowlton

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The Beast of Burden slowly entered the kitchen wearing a woeful expression. “Why are you inside when there are still a few good hours of daylight left for planting?” I asked.

“My shoulder is making popping sounds,” he complained. “And I think I’m done.”

I took a sip of my coffee and replied, “So what’s the tipping point? You’ve planted 40 trees, you only have 10 more to go.”

Yes, we’re really planting 50 trees. The Beast and I have several reasons for planting so many trees: to give our neighbor a more pleasant view of our garden work area, to create a private garden room with arborvitae on one wall and mature pines the ceiling and three remaining walls, and to establish a visually pleasing horizon, a definition to the end space of our yard.

April is a significant month to demonstrate and advocate for trees. April 22 is Earth Day, and the last Friday of April (April 29 this year) is Arbor Day.

Since 1970, Earth Day has been mandated to raise awareness and appreciation for our natural environment. Arbor Day is significant in that it not only promotes trees and their environmental impact, it has been a nationally celebrated day since 1882. What better month to plant 50 trees?

A mature pine sits at the corner of Cherry Street and Peace Portal Drive. It is approximately 30 feet tall, and a child’s blue plastic swing hangs from one of its strong limbs, moving gently, childless, in the spring breeze. Obviously, the child who plays there now, under the shelter of the shore pine, wasn’t there when that venerable tree was planted. Someone, many years ago, planted a tree for the future. Perhaps unwittingly, perhaps with a plan.

We can do the same. We are now facing more environmental issues than ever, and planting trees is becoming even more important. Not only do trees provide lumber, fruit, visual beauty and physical enjoyment, they can stabilize banks from erosion and provide windbreaks, all the while removing carbon dioxide, storing carbon and releasing oxygen into the atmosphere, helping to stop global warming.

If you want to plant a tree or trees, I suggest you contact the Master Gardeners at WSU’s Whatcom County Extension office at 360/676-673.

Master Gardeners can give you guidance in tree selection by helping you with such things as purchasing a quality tree, determining landscape function, form and size, and site conditions. If you are having problems with an existing tree, they can help find solutions.

In simply planting a tree, we can help protect our environment and preserve pleasures for future generations. Each one of us can leave a legacy. As J. Sterling Morton, the founder of Arbor Day said, “Each generation takes the earth as trustees.”

As I always say, a garden is never finished. It is a work in progress, and there are no big secrets to a healthy garden. A recipe for a healthy productive garden is common sense, good gardening practices and consistent effort.

“Keep a tree in your heart, and perhaps a singing bird will come.” Chinese proverb.

Recommended web sites include www.earthday.net, www.arbor-day.org, www.treehugger.com, and gardening.wsu.edu.