In honor of Georgia's Arbor Day on Friday, the Cartersville resident will join other Bartow County Master Gardeners to distribute 2,000 free red maple, redbud, sawtooth oak and longleaf pine seedlings. When needed, they also will share information with the public, such as how to water a sapling.
"[I enjoy] meeting enthused people, folks who are interested in growing trees," McJunkin said. "They'll each have unique situations that we can help with. It's not ideal [to plant now]. It would be better to plant in the fall when roots can get established with the winter rains and there will be a minimum of stress on a new plant. But this is probably second best because it's still cool, and there's still considerable moisture before the heat and drought or dry conditions are involved. More care needs to be taken with a tree planted now than if it were planted in the fall, [like] seeing that the water content is adequate. If they dry out too much, those new root systems just can't survive.
"They [also] don't need to fertilize their new plant. It needs to just get established on its own for the first year or two. And [residents need to] find a location that is suitable for the tree's needs -- if it's a shade-loving tree or sun loving. Those are probably the two main things [people should know]."
Along with the Master Gardeners, Keep Bartow Beautiful will be partnering with other agencies, such as the Georgia Forestry Commission, to organize the local Georgia Arbor Day celebration. While Arbor Day will be nationally observed on April 29, Georgia will recognize the event on the third Friday in February because winter is a more favorable time to plant. With a nod to Valentine's Day and February being National Heart Month, Bartow's theme will be "Garden with Heart -- Plant a Tree." In addition to promoting gardening as a healthy activity, organizers also note two of the seedlings -- red maple and redbud -- complement the color theme.
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 -- only one tree per person -- at Adairsville City Hall, Cartersville City Hall, Emerson City Hall, Kingston City Hall and Frank Moore Administration and Judicial Center.
"[We are] just trying to make sure that everyone knows that trees are still very, very important to our cityscapes and our urban landscapes because of the benefits that they bring," said Missy Phillips, assistant director for Keep Bartow Beautiful. "Of course with the city of Atlanta or any large city you've got all this construction and all this modification to the habitat and trees are generally replaced with concrete and concrete is not a permeable landscape. So it changes the landscape drastically. The easiest way to see that is certainly in the summertime, even in the wintertime, with temperature changes.
"[Arbor Day] originated in Nebraska. It was after the Dust Bowl. They decided to plant trees and ... it resonated over the country because of erosion issues and all of the environmental things that are associated with trees."
Prior to the seedling distribution, Keep Bartow Beautiful's staff and partner agencies -- such as Sharp Top Trees, Cartersville Parks and Recreation Department, Cartersville City Council and Cartersville Woman's Club -- will organize several public offerings to foster tree care and planting. On Thursday, there will be a tree planting at Atco Community Park at 11:30 a.m. and a proclamation signing recognizing Georgia's Arbor Day during the Cartersville City Council meeting at 7 p.m. Also in the works are tree plantings that will occur at Hamilton Crossing Park and Douglas Street United Methodist Church.
For more information about Bartow's Arbor Day celebration, call Keep Bartow Beautiful at 770-387-5167.