Arbor Day and Tree Planting

As much as Arbor Day is in the news, now is a good time to ask where does this holiday come from, and why.

A man named J. Sterling Morton moved from Michigan to Nebraska in the 1800’s and found almost no trees. He missed the trees he was used to, and came up with the idea for a tree planting holiday on January 4, 1872. So, the Nebraska legislature took the idea and passed the first Arbor Day law. Arbor Day was celebrated that year on April 10, 1872, and over a million trees were planted in Nebraska on that day.

Today the J. Sterling Morton Arboretum in Nebraska City, Nebraska commemorates and continues the legacy of Mr. Morton. The Arbor Day Foundation, a 501 (3) c charitable organization, was founded on the centennial of the first Arbor Day. Arbor Day has spread to many nations. In the United States the date is the last Friday in April each year. (Many communities choose to celebrate on other days.) or a search on the web for the Morton Arboretum will give those interested a more in depth history.

Basically, it’s the “Tree City” program that most people seem to be aware of. I suppose this is because of all the “tree city” signs as one crosses into the city limits of many towns across the nation.

No matter where you live or if you live in the Plains where hardly any trees once existed, adding some lovely trees to your landscape at this time of year can be an interesting adventure, contribute to the improvement of your world, and do a bit of good in the big scheme of things as more trees are cut and more land is dozed for development.
(Interesting Fact: You don’t think the Plains Indians would have burned ‘buffalo chips’ for fuel if there was wood readily available do you?)

This spring I invite you to plant a tree. Maybe a shade tree. Maybe a fruit tree. Maybe a flowering tree. (Or all three in one tree for that matter.) And if you don’t own a place, maybe you could donate a tree to a city or factory or school near where you live.

Just like the small bare root trees the Arbor Day Foundation sells, you can go small. You don’t have to plant a big expensive tree in order to participate.