Posted April 25, 2012
140 years of Celebrating Trees!
By Robyn Coughlin.
Arbor Day is this Friday, April 27th. The Arbor Day Holiday was founded im 1872, by J. Sterling Morton in Nebraska City, Nebraska. The Arbor Day Foundation began September 3, 1971 with a mission “to inspire people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees.” The Arbor Day Foundation is the world’s oldest and largest tree-planting organization. Its million members plant millions of trees every year.
Tree planting can result from many objectives. Maybe a quiet retreat is what’s wanted… a place of beauty and solitude away from the noise and bustle of the city. Maybe a landowner needs to control soil erosion or to keep a favorite trout stream or lake running clear. Recreation may be the goal. Or maybe just needed shade or protection from harsh weather. My in-laws, growing up in South Dakota in the “dirty thirties” remember the dust storms rolling across the plains and how important tree belts were for stopping the blowing dirt. Tree planting is very important to our planet’s survival.
Not only is it important to plant trees, but to plant the right trees for your area. The United States Department of Agriculture has a hardiness zone map to ensure the survival of trees in your area. Most of South Dakota is zone 3 or 4. That means plants used in South Dakota should be hardy enough to withstand temperatures of -20 to -30 F. It is very important to know if your tree, selection has “hardy northern grown” root stock. Most trees are grafted now; so the root of the tree is probably different than the top of the tree. Having a “hardy northern grown” root stock means we can have many more varieties of trees that would not have survived South Dakota winters in the past.
Other factors that contribute to the survival of trees are site protection (less exposure to desiccating winds), slope (provides air, drainage, and influences maturity), humidity, sufficient moisture supply, adequate drainage, deep fertile soil, neutral to slightly acid soils and dependable winter snow cover as a tempering mulch. Our area, the southeastern comer of South Dakota, has higher humidity and rainfall, more temperate winter temperatures and a lesser degree of exposure than other zones in South Dakota.
Celebrating Arbor Day can be as large or small as you want to make it. Your Arbor Day can be a few neighbors gathering to plant trees in a park behind your homes or at a nearby school. Arbor Day can be a single class project or an event for the whole school. The City of Brandon, a member of Tree City USA, will be hosting an Arbor Day celebration on Friday, April 27th at 10:30 in McHardy Park. Whether you attend a local celebration with your family, plant a tree in your own yard, or just read a book about trees to your children, make Arbor Day an annual celebration to be continued in future generations!