Two-thousand seedlings will be handed out Friday at various locations across the county.
Each year, the Bartow County Environmental Programs Division chooses two tree species to give away for Arbor Day festivities. This year, the selection was River Birch and Dogwood.
Chosen for their popularity and ease of care, River Birch and Dogwood are landscaping favorites serving a multitude of purposes for home owners.
“We’ll have 2,000 seedlings. A thousand of those are river birch and 1,000 are dogwood,” said Keep Bartow Beautiful Coordinator Missy Phillips. “They’re both excellent shade trees; of course the dogwood is an understory and the river birch can grow to be more of an overstory tree. So we’ve got both of those areas covered. The river birch is just so distinctive. As far as the look of your landscaping, it will give you a little more texture. A lot of people will use it for a landscaping tree and it really does differentiate, it gives a very different look, and despite its name they are somewhat drought tolerant.
“And, of course, the dogwood flowers in the spring and then has berries, so it is a fantastic ornamental landscaping tree as well as being a native Georgia tree.”
Trees will be available at the Frank Moore Administration Building, Cartersville City Hall, Emerson City Hall, Kingston City Hall and Georgia Highlands College Cartersville Campus. At each site will be experts, including Bartow County Master Gardeners volunteering their time to advise residents on how to plant and care for the trees given out Friday.
In the effort to encourage tree planting, ArborDay.org cites a long list of beneficial attributes provided by trees, including increased home values, natural cooling of homes and neighborhoods, blocking of cold wind to reduce the home heating burden, and the improvement of water and air qualities.
For Bartow County, these functions and others are reason enough to promote the replacement of trees lost to drought, insects or storms — a problem Phillips has seen increasing in recent years of dry weather and heavy winds.
“The inspiration has always been to replace trees and maintain the urban forest because trees provide so many environmental services,” Phillips said. “Even if we could build a machine to mimic the environmental services that trees provide, it would be a humongous machine and cost who knows how much. Trees provide so many environmental services that you can’t place a monetary value on it — cleaning the air, reducing erosion — a myriad of benefits we don’t even think about.”
Phillips suggests arriving early as the seedling giveaway is set to begin at 9 a.m. and in some years supplies have gone quickly. One regular guest of the annual giveaway knows for sure she will be bringing a crowd Friday as the 4-year-olds of First Presbyterian Preschool learn this week about Arbor Day.
“This year we’re going to take our 4-year-old classes across the street to the courthouse,” said Preschool Director Linda Parmenter. “We found a history of Arbor Day and we’re reading it to the 4-year-olds and talking about it — and it has been very interesting.
“Evidently, Arbor Day is closely connected to school students, which I didn’t realize, but they were the first to plant trees and each class would care for their own tree. Then 1,000 students marched in a parade to hear Mr. [Sterling] Morton speak at the Nebraska City Opera House. So we are going to recreate that parade a little bit and let the kids carry streamers as they walk across to the courthouse Friday in celebration of Arbor Day.”
Parmenter and the staff at First Presbyterian Preschool make an effort each year to educate their students about the need to care for natural resources. Classes have been attending the seedling giveaway for about four years, but students also put together a play each fall about recycling and the environment.
“From a Christian perspective, we feel like God has given us these beautiful trees and that we need to be good stewards of the earth,” Parmenter said. “We try to help the kids, in different ways, to help them understand that this earth, the trees are gifts and we are to take care of them.”
The seedling giveaway begins at the Bartow County Courthouse, Georgia Highlands College, and the cities of Cartersville, Emerson and Kingston at 9 a.m. Friday. For more information, call Bartow County Environmental Programs Division at 770-383-7399 or visit www.bartowga.org/kbb.