On Feb. 17, Bartow County Master Gardeners will assist Keep Bartow Beautiful in their efforts by distributing 2,000 free yellow poplar and persimmon seedlings. When needed, they also will share gardening advice with the public, such as how to water a sapling.
"Usually people are excited about the free tree seedlings," Phillips said. "I guess the feeling especially at this time of year, when we're anticipating spring, [is it] sort of gives them a symbol of that spring's to come. For me, I think part of the reason that they get excited about the tree seedlings is that. Georgia's Arbor Day is situated on the calendar in such a way that it coincides with the best planting season for Georgia and that just happens to be when everything's about to start to bud and bloom. ... We essentially fund this and give these seedlings out so that people will keep in mind that they need to replant trees.
"And because we've had such a drought for so many years, we are losing a lot of our established trees and [we need] to supplant that and make sure we have enough tree canopy in this urban environment. We need to really methodically think about always replanting because these trees are definitely affected by that long drought."
Purchased by Keep Bartow Beautiful from the Georgia Forestry Commission, the seedlings will be available to the public at no charge on a first-come, first-served basis while supplies last. Starting at 9 a.m., the Master Gardeners will hand out the seedlings at Adairsville City Hall, Cartersville City Hall, Emerson City Hall, Kingston City Hall, Frank Moore Administration and Judicial Center and Georgia Highlands College Cartersville campus. Highlighting the event's overall theme of conservation, Georgia Power also will be distributing free compact fluorescent light bulbs.
"They are an extreme asset," Phillips said, referring to the Bartow County Master Gardeners. "Number one, I can't be at all places at all times and they have generously supplied two Master Gardeners at each site.
"They split the trees up [and] they pick them up. That's something I don't have to do anymore either. They are extremely knowledgeable about planting and, especially beginning this year, they want people to bring their gardening questions to them."
For Kate Posey, president of Bartow County Master Gardeners, the Arbor Day event is an ideal time to pass along information and answer questions from the public. In addition to helping distribute seedlings, the Master Gardeners will host an "ask a gardener" offering at Frank Moore Administration and Judicial Center, where the experts will welcome inquiries on any gardening topic.
"The more trees that we can plant and grow and benefit our natural habitat is wonderful. [At the distribution], we actually are going to be handing out a brochure on how to plant trees," Posey said. "These are bare root trees. So we [will] pass those out and we encourage people to plant them as soon as possible because our Georgia Arbor Day is a lot earlier than a lot of the rest of the country because this is just a prime time for us here in Georgia to get those trees planted before it gets really hot.
"So they [need to] get a good root system started by keeping them hydrated and getting them in the ground early. That's just a wonderful part about living in Georgia, that we do have a climate to do that kind of thing in February, which is great."
In addition to the seedling giveaway, other Arbor Day activities will include tree plantings at Euharlee Feb. 17 at 1 p.m. and the Iglesia Metodista Unida Douglas Street United Methodist Church, which will be sponsored by the Cartersville Woman's Club, on Feb. 28.
For more information about Bartow's Arbor Day celebration, call Keep Bartow Beautiful at 770-387-5167.