Soon it will be time to celebrate one of our country’s oldest running holidays—Arbor Day. Though often ignored, it is, nevertheless, ever more important to embrace the principles behind its conception. Trees provide an abundance of blessings. For animals, food and shelter. For humans, beauty, shade, a means by which we mark the seasons, erosion control, food, and even the air we breathe.  How could we not celebrate them?

In 1854 Julius Sterling Morton, son of a wealthy New York  merchant, left Michigan with his bride for the plains of the Nebraska Territory.  There they settled on 160 treeless acres. However, he and his wife, Caroline, soon planted an orchard. “Orchards are missionaries of culture and refinement.  They make the people among whom they grow a better and more thoughtful people.” In the 1869 State Fair, Julius and twenty-two other men organized the Nebraska State Horticultural Society.

Motivated by his January 4, 1872 Fruit Address which encouraged the planting of trees, the Nebraska State Board of Agriculture declared April 10 to be Arbor Day.  To commemorate that day over a million trees were planted.

By 1900 every state in the country officially recognized an Arbor Day.  Although it is nationally declared to be the last Friday in April, every state celebrates it on a different day or week.  The state of California has theirs listed as the week of March 7-14.

But whatever day you choose to recognize, celebrate it by planting a tree…or two.


An Arbor Day Tree

Dear Little tree that we plant today,

What will you be when we’re old and gray?

The saving bank of the squirrel and mouse,

For the robin and wren an apartment house.

The dressing room of the butterfly’s ball,

The locust’s and katydid’s concert hall.

The schoolboy’s ladder in pleasant June,

The schoolgirl’s tent in the July moon.

And my leaves shall whisper right merrily

A tale of children who planted me.

                                                Author unknown


**Information is from Ted Bartimus of The North County Times. Date unknown.