For Keep Bartow Beautiful’s Missy Phillips, Georgia’s Arbor Day is about strengthening relationships and one’s “sense of citizenship.”
Looking forward to Friday’s outreach effort, the KBB programs manager and assistant sustainability coordinator is encouraging the public to take part in the celebration. Purchased from the Georgia Forestry Commission, 2,000 complimentary tree seedlings will be available to the public for three hours at various sites across Bartow on a first-come, first-served basis while supplies last.
“While Arbor Day may not be on many calendars, it is still an important message and a great opportunity for everyone to participate in tree plantings for Arbor Day for free,” Phillips said. “It’s a noble endeavor planting a tree. And it is one of the most optimistic things a person can do. It’s an act that has faith in the future.
“Every year I hear wonderful stories from people who have planted our tree seedlings. Most of these stories prove that planting trees is indeed a hopeful act. From Jaymie who works at the Dollar General in Kingston, who takes a tree home every year to plant with her daughter because she has hopes that they are planting memories, to the sheer excitement the students from the First Presbyterian Preschool exhibit when they realize they will be getting a baby tree, I love them all. How better to build relationships. How better to build a sense of citizenship.”
Starting at 9 a.m., Bartow County Master Gardeners will hand out white dogwood, river birch, bald cypress and Thuja bare-root saplings and share planting advice at the Shakespeare garden beside to Ross' Diner on North Wall Street in Cartersville; Doug’s Restaurant, 696 Ga. Highway 293 S.E., Emerson; Frank Moore Administration and Judicial Center, 135 W. Cherokee Ave., Cartersville; Dollar General, 32 Cochran St., Kingston; and United Community Bank, 7400 Adairsville Highway, Adairsville.
“Georgia recognizes their state Arbor Day as the third Friday in February,” KBB Executive Director Sheri Henshaw said. “This is an ideal time for planting in Georgia. Trees planted in the late winter can establish good root growth underground to take in the late winter and early spring rains before the harsh summer heat sets in. Though the tree seedlings may look like nothing much is happening, down below, they are having a growth spurt. Those roots are needed to support that flush of growth that comes when leaves start forming and new branches emerge.
“These times vary across the country due to the numerous planting zones across the U.S. More Northerly states have later planting times more in alignment with what many assume is the only Arbor Day — National Arbor Day, the fourth Saturday in April. By then, though, we here in Georgia are usually into some very warm weather. The plants can't grow roots and shoots very well at the same time without a lot of support, such as regular watering and fertilizer.”
Referencing the trees that were selected for this year’s dispersal, Phillips noted area residents can discover these species at numerous Bartow locations.
“Good examples of the trees we are featuring this year can be found throughout the county,” she said. “For instance, there are two gorgeous bald cypress growing in front of the Kingston Post Office. They are uniquely pretty in that their small needle-like leaves give a delicate appearance, and its fall color is awesome. Flowering dogwoods can be found in yards and rural landscapes. They speak boldly with their early blooms of four large white petals among the gray background of still wintering oaks and maples.
“Thuja, or white cedar, is our evergreen offering. It’s a wonderful replacement for old Leyland cypress that have been planted as sound or sight barriers. The Leyland tends to be a bit weaker and live shorter lives. A good example or the river birch can be found in Adairsville. The city of Adairsville has used river birch to establish a tree-lined trail around the old storm water treatment facility located across from the old elementary school. These trees with their scaling bark presents a contrasting natural element that certainly enhances this low lying, generally wet location giving it a more park-like feel.”
Echoing Henshaw’s comments, Phillips underscored the significance of sustaining Bartow’s tree canopy.
“Arbor Day in Bartow is an opportunity to not only promote the planting of trees but to educate why doing so is important,” said Phillips, noting trees provide shade, cooler temperatures and help prevent soil erosion. “It’s especially important in a county, like ours, whose environmental footprint is growing so large so quickly. Saving or replacing our tree canopy as we grow is a practical and proactive approach that will benefit us in so many tangible ways. While we are lucky to still have rural forested areas and all the environmental benefits that affords us, we still need to include trees in our yards and landscaping.”
Further details about Bartow’s tree seedling giveaways can be obtained by visiting www.bartowga.org/kbb or calling Phillips at 770-383-7399.