By Marie Nesmith
To help sustain the county’s urban tree canopy, Keep Bartow Beautiful will oversee the giveaway of 2,000 tree seedlings on Georgia’s Arbor Day.
Purchased from the Georgia Forestry Commission, the saplings will be available to the public Friday at no charge on a first-come, first-served basis while supplies last.
"While national Arbor Day isn't until April, Georgia always recognizes Arbor Day the third Friday in February,” said Missy Phillips, programs manager for Keep Bartow Beautiful. “That's because spring happens earlier in the Southeast United States and trees need to be planted while they are still in a dormant state.
"… There are two messages we hope everyone will take away from this year's event. One is that we need to continue to replant trees because tree loss and all its many negative results is an unintended but ever increasing consequence of economic growth. The second is that we also have a food economy that depends upon the smallest of things, such as bees and other insects. It's good to plant a wide variety of trees when possible. This will help to ensure the continued partnership we have enjoyed from some very easily [overlooked] allies."
Starting at 9 a.m., Bartow County Master Gardeners will hand out dogwood and yellow poplar — as well as a limited number of willow oak — saplings and share planting advice at the Shakespeare garden next to Ross' Diner on North Wall Street in Cartersville; Doug’s Restaurant, 696 Ga. Highway 293 S.E., Emerson; Frank Moore Administration and Judicial Center, 135 W. Cherokee Ave., Cartersville; Dollar General, 32 Cochran St., Kingston; and United Community Bank, 7400 Adairsville Highway, Adairsville.
"Every year, we choose a theme and select our seedling species to fit that theme," Phillips said. "This year, we are featuring the UGA Extension Program's 'Protecting Pollinators.' Pollinators include bees, butterflies and hummingbirds and are extremely important. They are crucial to a healthy plant biodiversity, crop production, and they affect our economy as well.
"… Benefiting our theme, we have selected two flowering trees, the ever popular dogwood and the high nectar yielding yellow poplar. The dogwood is well loved because of its showy white bracts in mid spring, followed by clusters of red fruits in fall. It will need moist, well-drained soil. And, it is an understory tree, preferring light to medium shade. The yellow poplar, aka tulip poplar, isn't really a poplar at all but a relative of magnolia. The tree's tulip-shaped, greenish-yellow and orange-striped flowers are very attractive and are a high nectar yielding honey tree."
Echoing Phillips' comments, Bartow County Extension Coordinator Paul Pugliese emphasizes flowering plants, such as dogwoods and yellow poplar, are a key component of "pollinator stewardship."
"The Trees for Bees Project to improve pollinator habitats is a multidisciplinary team of UGA researchers, specialists and agents in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and UGA Extension," Pugliese said. "As the public learns of the challenges pollinators face from habitat loss, parasites and disease pressure, Extension educators and volunteers are asked to help Georgia’s citizens to make positive changes that promote pollinator health in urban and suburban landscapes and urban forest settings.
"Pollinator habitat restoration and enhancement are positive and meaningful steps that anyone can take to protect our pollinator resources. These resources have an annual value of $360 million to Georgia’s agriculture. Supplementing pollinator habitats with flowering plants is an integral part of pollinator stewardship. It not only enhances the environment for honey bees, it also provides beneficial habitat — food and shelter — for native pollinators. Flowering trees, such as yellow poplar, dogwood, red maple, black willow, sourwood, Eastern redbud, Southern crabapple and catalpa provide vital nectar and pollen sources for pollinators by blooming at different times throughout the year. For homeowners surrounded by shade, pollinator-friendly landscapes can seem unattainable, but they don’t have to be. Landscapes graced with trees and an abundance of shade can be great resources for pollinators, too."
Along with seedling giveaways, this year's Arbor Day celebration also will feature the promotion of edible orchards throughout Bartow.
"This Arbor Day we are also happy to announce that Keep Bartow Beautiful, in partnership with the Bartow County Extension office, has received a grant from Keep Georgia Beautiful financing the planting of five edible orchards. During the month of February, orchards, including apple, persimmon, paw paw and fig trees, along with blueberry bushes will be planted at South Central Middle School, Georgia Highlands, Hickory Log [Vocational School], Kingston Elementary and the Allatoona Resource Center.
"In addition, memorial trees will be planted for Joy Hill and Mrs. John Atkinson 'Bessie' at Noble Hill-Wheeler Memorial Center and Bartow's George Washington Carver Park, respectively. These memorial trees are of the Cherokee Brave variety, blooming deep pinkish red, and were picked because they will stand out as both these ladies did in our community. Joy Hill was [curator] of Noble Hill-Wheeler Memorial Center [from] 2016 [to] 2017. Bessie Atkinson was the wife of John Atkinson, who in 1950 founded George Washington Carver Park on Lake Allatoona."
Further details about Bartow’s tree seedling giveaways can be obtained by calling Phillips at 770-383-7399.