Celebrating Forests Today and Every Day

Did you know that today is the International Day of Forests, as proclaimed by the United Nations?

We may think we grasp the importance of rain forests throughout the world and temperate SONY DSCdeciduous forests in our country, but forests play a much larger role than many of us realize. Today marks the global celebration of forests. International Day of Forests sets to raise awareness on the importance of all types of forests and trees outside of forests.

In the words of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, “As we deliberate on the post-2015 development agenda, let us acknowledge the vital role of forests and pledge to work together to protect and sustainably manage these vital ecosystems.”

Consider these facts from the United Nations:

  • Forests cover 1/3 of the Earth’s land mass.
  • Approximately 1.6 billion people – including more than 2,000 indigenous cultures –depend on forests for their livelihood. JaguarForests also provide shelter, jobs and security for forest dependent communities.
  • Forests are the most biologically diverse ecosystems on land, home to more than 80% of the terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects.
  • Forests play a key role in our attempt to adapt to and mitigating climate change. For example, they protect watersheds, which supply 75% of freshwater worldwide.

Muir Woods, Mill Valley, CAYet, despite the vital role forests play in the ecological, economic and social realms of human and planetary existence, we continue to witness global deforestation at an alarming rate. According to the United Nations, deforestation accounts for 12 to 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

Learn more about what the Arbor Day Foundation is doing to protect and replant our nation’s forests as well as forests throughout the world at www.arborday.org/replanting and www.arborday.org/programs/rainforest.

Spring has Sprung! Which trees are attracting what birds to your yard?

This time of year, we experience the arrival of spring, the leafing out of our precious trees, and take comfort in the greening of our community and the joy of the songbird.  This benefit of trees – this experience – brings forth pleasurable feelings and emotions, and creates fond memories that are priceless.

Thank you for your responses to our recent post “Planting Trees to Attract Birds.

Let’s take a look at which trees are attracting what birds to your yards.Live-Oak_1-876Sargent-Crabapple_1-821Japanese-Dogwood_1-830

 

Top five responses:

1. Oak (Live Oak and Red Oak)

2. Dogwood

3. Serviceberry

4. Juniper

5. Crabapple and Mulberry

Honorable mention:

holly, American mountainash, apple, aucuba, boxwood, butterfly bush, chokeberry,  cypress, elderberry,  fir, forsythia, hazel, hemlock,   laurel, lilac, maple, Norway spruce, pear, raspberry, saucer magnolia, white pine, and wild cherry.

We also had a plethora of responses regarding the type of birds our members and followers see visiting their yards.

Cardinal photo credit Brian GudzevichChickadee photo credit Eugene BeckesBluebird photo credit Henry T McLin

 

Top five most common birds:

1. Cardinals

2. Chickadees

3. Woodpeckers

4. Bluejays

5. Hummingbirds

Other birds that folks are seeing in their yards are wrens, robins, sparrows, catbirds, owls, crows, warblers, mockingbirds, and bluebirds!

Thanks for sharing with us!

Any other trees or birds you’d like to add to the list?

Planting Trees to Attract Birds

While birds are a joy to watch and listen to all year American-Mountainash_3-872long, it is particularly during the long winter months when their bright and cheerful presence is even more appreciated. Following an especially cold and dreary winter, the coming of spring brings thoughts of planting trees and shrubs to attract these delightful feathered friends. While they certainly enrich our lives with their presence when they grace our yards and gardens, we, too, can do much for them by providing necessary food sources and habitat.

By planting certain species of trees and shrubs, you can provide year-long natural food sources for these creatures, particularly during times of year when food is scarce. Selecting several trees or shrubs that have berries during different times of the year are great choices—and most also provide beauty in the form of spring blossoms or vibrant fall foliage. Blackhaw-Viburnum_1Great choices include Dogwood, Serviceberry, Mulberry, Viburnum, Sargent Crabapple, American Mountainash, Black Tupelo, Juniper and Winterberry Holly.

The cover trees and shrubs provide is also vital for attracting birds, as they need areas of shelter and protection for breeding, nesting, sleeping, traveling, and hiding from enemies. Many trees and shrubs can be both sources of cover and food; some good choices include Canadian Hemlock, Fir, Spruce, Eastern Redcedar, Birch, and Oak.

The Arbor Day Foundation and arborday.org are great sources of information.  White-Fir_1-839Our Tree City USA Bulletin #13: Trees for Wildlife and Conservation Trees: How to Attract Songbirds and Wildlife are excellent resources.

And please remember to provide a water source. Birds, like all wildlife, need water, and by installing a bird bath or other water feature, you will attract even more birds and provide a better habitat for them. Be sure to change the water frequently and keep it free of ice in the winter.

Ready to attract birds to your yard and garden but don’t know where to start?

Among the several free landscape designs available for download is the “Hedgerow Bird Shelter” also known as the “Bird Magnet.” Bird-MagnetBird-LayoutDesigned by registered landscape architect and president of Kersey/Wike Associates, Joel T. Parker, this landscape plan is attractive to birds by way of food and shelter as well as providing visual interest for all seasons. It includes the use of Washington Hawthorne, American Cranberrybush Viburnum, Arrowwood Viburnum and Winterberry Holly. A useful addition to any bird-lover’s property, this landscape plan is a source of beauty and enjoyment. Read more about the details of this design plan on the original arborday.org blog post.

Prairifire-Flowering-Crabapple_1-820The arborday.org tree nursery also offers a Trees for Birds Collection, a bird-friendly tree package containing one of each of the following: Purpleleaf Sand Cherry, Prairiefire Crab, American Mountainash, Canadian Hemlock and Norway Spruce.

What trees attract birds to your yard? Do you have any specific types of birds that seem to love your trees and shrubs? Let us know in the comments.

 

 

Your questions about fall planting answered!

 Is it better to plant in spring or fall?

Both seasons can be effective times to plant your trees and shrubs. A great benefit of planting treeplanting in the fall is that tree roots remain active throughout the winter, taking advantage of moisture from rain or snow. Trees planted during this season get a nice head start on establishing themselves in the spring through vigorous root elongation and a flush of twig growth. Keep in mind that some plants, such as blueberries, blackberries and grapes, have the best chance of growing up strong and healthy when planted in the spring.

What are some tips for planting in the fall?  

  • If you cannot plant immediately due to adverse weather conditions, you may store your trees for up to 5 days. If storing your trees for longer than 5 days please follow the instructions for Heeling in Your Trees.
  • Avoid planting your trees in pots, if possible.
  • When you plant in the fall, be sure to mulch with wood chips, straw or other material to reduce alternate freezing and thawing that can result in “frost heaving.”
  • Avoid using fertilizer, potting soil or root starter, as they may be detrimental to the health of your new trees.

I’m ordering natural root trees…are they watering image croppedok to plant this late in the season?

Planting trees in late fall is well worth some cold hands! To be sure that your trees arrive in a strong and healthy condition, nurseries will usually ship “natural root” or “bare root” stock only when it is dormant in the fall season. Trees will only go dormant after a few hard frosts, so it’s necessary to wait until then to be able to ship them safely.

But it’s cold! Are the trees able to survive the weather?

As long as a spade can be inserted into the ground, it is okay to plant the trees. In other words, you may plant your trees until the ground is completely frozen solid—so until you can safely ice skate or ice fish on your local lakes or ponds, planting your dormant trees is just fine.

What can I do to prepare for my trees’ arrival?

  • Pre-dig your holes now, so when your trees do arrive you are prepared to immediately get them in the ground.
  • Store the dirt you removed from the hole in a garage or tool shed where it will not get as cold. Left outside, it may harden and prove more difficult to work with once the time comes to plant.
  • mulchPre-purchase mulch, as some stores may not have as large of a mulch supply in their inventories as the season progresses—you want to make sure you’ve got plenty of mulch on hand for your newly planted trees once they arrive!

Happy planting!

(Note: If you live in Hardiness Zone 6, you may still order trees from the Arbor Day Tree Nursery until November 19. If you live in Zone 7, 8, or 9 you may order until November 26 and still receive your order this shipping season. Hardiness Zones 0-5 are currently being shipped.)

 

Member Note of Gratitude, the Majestic Crapemyrtle

image 1 CMGreat story from one of our members who joined several years ago and out of the blue, followed up with a generous donation.

“We write to you in appreciation and in awe of what our contribution several years ago has accomplished, and what we hope will inspire others to follow suit and contribute to the Arbor Day Foundation. Here is our endowment of gratitude for the beauty that has resulted from that small investment.image 2 CM

About 6-8 years ago we saw an advertisement to contribute $10 to the Arbor Day Foundation and receive several trees as a gift. We’re concerned about the deforestation of our planet, so we sent a contribution not expecting much; In exchange we received five young trees. With good humor we planted them. They grew and grew, and grew; four years later, the results are majestic: five magnificent 12-foot tall crapemyrtles now grace our steep mountainside yard.

Thank you so much for all you’re doing for our planet. We are in desperate shape and need lots of help!”

  Image 3 CM

 

Trees for Bees

Photo credit: Flickr, Emilian Robert Vicol

Photo credit: Flickr, Emilian Robert Vicol

You’ve probably heard more buzz about bees than usual lately—from unexplained deaths en masse to faltering fruit crops in their absence. One thing you’ve probably learned is that bees are important (if not essential) components to multitudes of ecosystems around the world: particularly ones that produce much of our food.

Why are bees so important?

When we think of bees, we typically think of their use in the production of honey and beeswax. Perhaps you’ve heard of the medicinal uses for bee venom—which has been used for treating arthritis, multiple sclerosis and even fibromyalgia, and more recently to treat cancer, epilepsy and depression.

While these are incredibly important functions, bees, and honeybees in particular, have a much more wide-reaching impact than many of us realize. “Typically, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, these under-appreciated workers pollinate 80 percent of our flowering crops which constitute 1/3 of everything we eat. Losing them could affect not only dietary staples such as apples, broccoli, strawberries, nuts, asparagus, blueberries and cucumbers, but may threaten our beef and dairy industries if alfalfa is not available for feed,” says Maria Boland, of Mother Nature Network. One Cornell University study estimated that honeybees annually pollinate $14 billion worth of seeds and crops in the U.S. The University of Arizona has determined more than 100 different agricultural crops in the U.S. are pollinated by bees.

While the root causes of the problem of the great bee disappearance are still being determined (experts suggest harmful pesticides or harmful pesticide exposure, viruses and poor nutrition play large roles, in addition to ever-decreasing habitat/food sources), the issue of what proactive measures to take remains. Outside of donning a beekeeper mask/gear and cultivating hives of one’s own (which is certainly an option, though it’s not for everyone), what can a person do to help these productive members of our planet?

Luckily, there are many things.

  • Avoid spraying plants in bloom and apply chemicals after bees have returned to their colonies at night. The best way to conserve pollinators, according to the Xerces Society, is to avoid pesticides altogether.
  • Where possible, plant or maintain regionally native plant species—in general, they are able to support a larger number of species than non-native plants and often have a higher habitat or food value…especially for bees. Some native bee species are “specialists” and forage only a few specific native plants. Also, single-flowered plants (which are closer to their natural form) are better for bees than double-or triple-flowered ornamental and fruit trees.
  • Provide nesting sites for our native bees in your landscape by leaving areas of your yard or garden undisturbed and uncultivated. These bees are solitary or nest in very small numbers with different nesting requirements from the large hives created by European honeybees.
  • Plant a mix of trees and shrubs that are rich sources of both nectar and pollen, as bees need both for proper nutrition. (Don’t have space for any more trees? Planting crocus, anise hyssop, bee balm and asters in your perennial garden can be of great service to bees, too).
  • When creating the plan for or adding to your garden/yard, use a diversity of plant species with a succession of blooms from early spring through fall…this provides foraging bees with steady sources of nutrition. Clumping plants of the same species into a small area attracts more bees than individual or widely scattered plants.

Bee-friendly spring blossoms:

(Very early bloom time): Maple, Willow, Elm, Hybrid Hazelnut, Almond, and Oak

(Early to later bloom time): Crabapple , Apple, Cherry, Plum (and most other fruit trees), Hickory, Redbud, Sassafras, Tupelo, and Native Mesquite

Bee-friendly summer blossoms:

(Very early bloom time): American Mountainash, Catalpa, Viburnum, Blackberry, Blueberry, Raspberry

(Early to later bloom time): Sourwood, Baswood, Littleleaf Linden, Elderberry, Rose and Native Mesquite (second bloom period)

Bee-friendly fall/winter blossoms:

Franklin Tree, California Laurel, Potentilla, Blue Mist Shrub, Bodnant Viburnum, Seven-Son Flower, Sunflower and Aster

What are you doing to help out our pollinator friends or what would you like to do? Leave your comments below.

Sources:

Edible (& Still Beautiful) Landscaping

What is “edible landscaping”? Defined as an “integration of food-producing plants within an ornamental or decorative setting,” edible landscaping can create a productive, beautiful yard that nourishes body and soul.

Why incorporate food-producing plants in your yard?

-As “local” as it gets: you know exactly where your food comes from, and have control peachesover any pesticides or sprays that are used. We all can agree that food grown in your own backyard tastes so much better than produce picked before its prime and shipped thousands of miles. Additionally, it’s a great way to supply yourself with fruits or veggies that may not ship well or are hard to find or expensive to buy in grocery stores.

-Money savings: growing your own fruit trees and nut trees, as well as vegetable and herb plants, can save major bucks on your grocery bill—a family of four can save $1,000 a year by devoting just 100 square feet of the yard to planting edibles, says Lindsey Mann, owner of Sustenance Design in Decatur, Ga. What’s more, an edible landscape can “begin reversing the cash flow of a grass lawn not only within the first year, but within the first few months,” according to Mann. The rate of return will increase through the years once the start-up costs have been paid and the fruit trees mature and start producing. Why not eat your yard instead of it eating at your pocketbook?

-Added beauty: many fruit and nut trees can be simply spectacular additions to a yard with their profusions of blooms or lovely autumn color. Apples, apricots, cherries, crabapples, peaches, pears, plums, quince, serviceberry and almonds are flowering favorites, while blueberries, crabapples, persimmon and serviceberry shine with their fall foliage.

almonds-Share the wealth: you might even get to the point where you have more than you can even eat! Sharing your excess fruit, nuts, veggies or herbs with neighbors is always a nice gesture or a great way to welcome a new neighbor to the block. You could even share your bounties with a local food bank, for which fresh, local produce is often in short supply.

-Beneficial effects of nature and learning opportunities: let’s not forget the immense personal satisfaction you get knowing you grew your own food, as well as the opportunity to get outside more and tend your plants (an activity repeatedly shown to be a health booster and stress-reducer). Not to mention what educational gold mine it could be for children: both learning about natural, scientific processes and healthy eating habits.

However, it is important to be realistic and know that it may be wise to start out small. Rosalind Creasy, an edible landscaping expert, advises:

“Small and simple means you can easily maintain what you’ve started. Temper enthusiasm with the knowledge that many edible plants not only need maintenance (mulching, watering, weeding, feeding, and pruning), but also take effort in the form of harvesting and cooking- and preserving a large harvest. Choose dwarf fruit trees over standard-size trees and select fruit varieties that spread the harvest over many months.”

Some great suggestions for planting based on all the spaces you have (or don’t) from Ohio and Purdue Extension offices:

-Get creative with substitutions! Where you might have planted a shade tree, plant a fruit tree. Where you need a deciduous shrub, plant currants or hazelnuts. Where you have always had chrysanthemums, plant bachelor’s buttons—you can eat them.

-Strawberries and shorter herbs are a great choice for low ground cover (plant strawberries in/onto a barrel if you’re lacking more in horizontal space).

-Need to keep it somewhat low to the ground but still have some room to grow upwards? Plant blackberries (erect), blueberries, currants, elderberries, gooseberries, quince, raspberries, serviceberry—these are all shrubs that grow 3-8 feet in height.

-Have enough space for something 8-15 feet? Try dwarf and semi-dwarf apples; dwarf apricots, cherries(tart), peaches, European pears and plums; filberts, paw paw, quince and serviceberry.

-For space allowing for 15-30 foot trees, great choices include standard-sized apples, cherries, crabapples, pears, or serviceberry.

-Tons of space? Butternuts, Chestnuts (Chinese), Hickories, Persimmon, Black Walnuts and Persian Walnuts will reach over 30 feet in height.

(Still having a hard time choosing? The Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree Wizard is a free online guide to help you quickly and easily select a fruit or nut tree).

Creasy sums it up best here:

“Certainly, an edible landscape is one of the most rewarding yards one can have. You’ll be able to grow tasty treats that can’t be bought for love or money, often with enough to share with friends and neighbors. An edible landscape is the only form of gardening that truly nurtures all the senses.”

Do you practice edible landscaping? What food-bearing plants do you grow and what would you like to start growing? Share in the comments!

Happy planting (and eating!)

Sources & additional recommended reading:

World Water Week: Trees Play a Significant Role

Mountain StreamTo celebrate World Water Week, organized by the Stockholm Water Institute, let’s talk trees and H₂0!

Trees and clean water go hand in hand. Trees—large rainforests and deciduous forests in particular—can play a significant role in the preservation, purification, and even production of this precious resource.

Forests help to:

-Filter and purify water

Forests provide natural filtration and storage systems that supply an estimated 75 percent of usable water globally… (nearly 2/3 of the water supply in the U.S.) One study estimates the value of water regulation and supply at $2.3 trillion globally.CIFOR

“Trees and forests improve stream quality and watershed health by decreasing the amount of storm water runoff and pollutants that reach local waters. They take up nutrients and pollutants from soils and water through their roots, and transform them into less harmful substances. Forests also maintain high water quality by minimizing soil erosion and reducing sediment.” -CIFOR

In the city of Victoria in the province of British Columbia, their forested watershed is so effective at purifying their drinking water, the only treatment they do is filtering for course debris and passing the water under a UV light. No chemicals are added to purify the water.” -CIFOR

-Manage stormwater and reduce severity of drought

“(Trees) allow rain water to percolate into the soil rather than rushing off carrying with it oil, metal particles and other pollutants. Below ground, roots hold the soil in place and absorb water that will eventually be released into the atmosphere by transpiration.” –Tree City USA Bulletin #55: How Trees Can Retain Stormwater Runoff

Forests act as giant sponges, soaking up rainfall during wet seasons and slowly releasing it during times of drought.” -CIFOR

“(Forests) could also help us to adapt to a changing climate and combat drought by influencing rainfall patterns…Tropical forests contribute to regulating river flows both during dry seasons and high rainfall events, thereby minimizing risks related to water scarcity and floods.” -CIFOR

-Maintain rainfall levels throughout the world

Air passing over vegetation produces about twice as much rain as that blowing across sparsely covered ground…In some cases these forests increased rainfall thousands of kilometers away.” –Leeds University study

A vast forest such as the Amazon is able to pump significant amounts of water into the atmosphere, promoting cloud formation and movement, even thousands of kilometers away…impacting rainfall patterns in other parts of the world.” -CIFOR

‘By better understanding this process, we may, one day, be able to strategically plant trees that will bring rain to regions that need it most,’ David Ellison from the Institute for World Economics said.” –CIFOR

Your Part

What can you do today?

Taking care of our earth’s major tree resources will play an ever-increasing role in the worldwide effort to maintain our water supply.

Every little bit helps—pure, clean water can start with you.

Sources:

 

Trees as living legacies

One of the things that fascinates us the most about trees is their incredible potential for longevity. While there are a few short-lived trees, many of your “normal,” run-of-the-mill trees outlive the average person by fifty to a hundred years. And this doesn’t even consider the extraordinary, ancient trees that live a thousand years or more—in fact, some of the oldest living organisms on earth are trees.

mighty-oakKnowing this, it makes sense that people throughout history have been drawn to the planting of trees to mark significant occasions in our lives, or to honor, celebrate, or remember a loved one. Some people choose to plant a tree for each of their children— a great excuse to collect a few photographic memories of each child next to his or her tree, comparing their changing heights through the years. Some plant a tree in honor of building or moving into a new home. Another wonderful idea that’s gained popularity recently is a wedding unity tree ceremony, whereby the bride and groom combine the soil from each of their homes into the pot of a single tree, a noble Douglasfir, perhaps, then plant it in their new home in honor of their marriage. What a great symbol for a couple’s growing love. Still others find trees they plant to be the perfect lasting, living memorial to someone they have lost. In honor of a parent who has passed away, one might plant an oak tree where, when it becomes older, they might visit to sit peacefully in its shade and feel connected to their loved one. After losing a pet that was part of the family for many years, a dogwood could be a beautiful reminder of the beloved playmate and companion every time one sees its flowers.

Beautiful Flowerind TreeMany of our members and those who have bought trees from our nursery have shared such stories with us, and it inspires us to see how meaningful a tree can be to someone in celebrating life. Below we’ve included a few that tugged on our heartstrings.

“The look on my little great-nephew’s face when we planted, and watched grow, my first free 10 trees one spring, was priceless. Happy to say, just as you promised, that all 10 trees are growing, strong and healthy. My nephew told me that after my passing, he will come back and sit under these trees and reflect on our relationship as friends, and fellow lovers of nature. My dad did this for me also–he received these trees from Arbor Day and planted a spruce for me. To this day, so many years later, I feed the wild birds with a half dozen feeders hanging from this tree’s limbs. As I watch the birds and look at the now big spruce, I think of my Dad and our times in nature, through this spruce we are always together. ” –Member Kevin Warriner

“When my first daughter was born…we really wanted to plant a tree in celebration of our daughter’s birth. We ordered a Weeping Willow. The young tree grew vigorously and very soon was taller than Sara and not long thereafter, taller than us. Our extended family would come for visits and comment on how quickly Sara’s tree was growing. We too have been truly impressed with its development. We recently celebrated Sara’s sixth birthday. It was a warm September day, particularly in the sun. We quickly decided (having originally placed our picnic table in the middle of the yard) to move it under Sara’s tree, retreating from the hot sun. We all expressed our amazement that we were all able to celebrate Sara’s birthday under a tree that was planted as a whip the same year she was born!” – Member Scott Davis

“…My father and mother, when she was living, used to love to watch the squirrels climb their Baldcypress tree…. I decided that I would like to plant one of my Baldcypress trees on the grounds near where she is buried. It is nearly seven feet tall now. My father has visited me a few times in the past few years and was surprised and very happy to see that I had planted the bald cypress near their final resting place.” – Member William R. Thorne

“When my husband and I thawed the top layer of our wedding cake for our first anniversary, we were disappointed that it was inedible. Not wanting to just throw it away, we decided to bury it with much ceremony, in our back yard beneath our cherry tree. Now each year I SWEAR the white blooms smell like cherry…and vanilla! Eleven years and counting!” –Facebook fan Mary Croslin Wright

We understand, however, that sometimes planting a tree where you live isn’t always possible. Luckily, an alternative exists to plant trees in a forest in need. With our Trees in Memory, Trees in Celebration and Trees for Pets programs, our members are planting trees in honor of people and animals they love.

Have you ever planted a tree in memory or celebration of a loved one or to commemorate a special time in your life? We would love you to share your story in the comments.