April and Arbor Day

He that plants trees loves others besides himself - Thomas Fuller

paw paw flower

PAW PAW FLOWER

April is a most appropriate month in which to celebrate being green. Both Arbor Day and Earth Day provide opportunities for us to evaluate our impact on the earth and to encourage us to plan for the future of our planet. Those who plant trees can be thought of as stewards of the earth - putting down roots so that subsequent generations can enjoy the fruits of our labor.

Here in New England, we have more trees now than we did 200 years ago. How can that be, you might ask. If you think about living in the 1800's, the only heat supply available was wood. Houses were made of wood and  cooking relied on wood for fuel, too. The first settlers marveled at the seemingly endless supply of trees, and quickly began cutting them down. Fields for planting crops needed to be created - so chop, chop, chop. The landscape was slowly changed as more and more land was cleared. By the middle of the 1800's, much of the forest cleared, and soon the exodus westward began.

I remember as a child never seeing a turkey in this area. Now, we are almost overrun with them. Their perferred habitat has returned, and so they have made a comeback. We now hear lots of reports of bear and even moose visitations very close to and even in the cities. Trees are enabling more critters to survive, providing shelter, food and nesting spots. Though it may take years, to plant a tree is to believe in tomorrow.

I have planted many different types of trees on my property. Several are fruit and nut trees that I wanted for food, though much of it is used by wildlife, too. Persimmon, paw paw, apricot, Asian pear and others are some of what I have installed. Though I tend towards native plants and trees, I do like to try a variety of trees. Some of the understory trees (those that grow under larger trees) I have grown over the years are spicebush, chaste tree, and witch hazel. Things I grow just for looks are redbud, seven son's tree, and sweey bay magnolia. I am fortunate to have a huge mulberry tree - but it is a non-fruiting one. Good thing, since it lines my driveway and my vehicles would be bombed with purple stains. The previous owners of the property had a small orchard of pears, apples and cherry, and I have added some to that as well. A tiny curly willow that I planted about 20 years ago has morphed into a tree that is two stories high - and provides me with lots of decorative branches. This year, I am adding some serviceberry and American plum for wildlife. The area near the pond is teeming with all sorts of fauna, and I want to ensure that they have plenty of food and shelter. I also have a few osage orange trees that I grew from seed last year, and I need to figure out the best site for them. My gingko tree was a casualty last year - so I will be looking to replace that.

STAR MAGNOLIA

What type of tree will you plant this year? The list is endless, but whatever you choose, remember that it will most likely be here long after you are but a memory.

Here's to the future,

Karen