Spring brings many occasions for gardeners to celebrate their connection to the earth, including National Arbor Day. National Arbor Day, known as the tree planter’s holiday, has been celebrated in the United States since 1872.
Founded by journalist J. Sterling Morton in 1872, Arbor Day is celebrated on the last Friday in April. Using his forum as a journalist, he encouraged both individuals and community organizations to plant trees.
Having settled in the largely treeless state of Nebraska, Morton began the campaign as a way to increase the number of trees for windbreaks to keep soil in place, for fuel and building materials, and for shade.
The first celebration began as a contest offering prizes to counties and individuals for planting the largest number of trees on that day. The contest was a huge success with over one million trees planted in Nebraska on the first Arbor Day.
Today, most states celebrate Arbor Day on the last Friday in April and several presidents have proclaimed a national Arbor Day on that date. Just as it was then, each year, Arbor Day is set aside to encourage tree planting and tree care.
However, some states celebrate the day at other times to coincide with the best tree planting weather including California, which usually celebrates it on March 7 the birthday of noted horticulturist, Luther Burbank.
To find out when your state observes Arbor Day, search the Arbor Day Foundation site.
A great way to celebrate Arbor Day is to plant a tree yourself as a personal way of demonstrating your commitment to stewardship of the land. You can start a tree seed in a cup or a seedling in a pot. If you have no place to plant it later, you can give it to someone else who does have the room, or donate a tree to a community organization or garden so you can watch it grow together.
You can also highlight the importance of trees in your community by conducting a tree search asking people to find large, unusual or historic trees, or lead people on a tree identification hike, or have a tree trivia contest and give away trees to the winners.
If you’d like to get more involved, volunteer with a tree-planting organization in your community.
Or, if you want to find out what activities are going on specifically for Arbor Day, check the Arbor Day Foundation site. It lists tree-planting activities by state for Arbor Day (which is April 30).