Vine Cutting at Lied Lodge & Conference Center

August 13th was a monumental day for the Arbor Day Foundation.LLCC_Vine Cutters 1 Nearly a year of top-to-bottom renovation came to an inspiring crescendo at the Vine-Cutting Ceremony for Lied Lodge & Conference Center in Nebraska City, Nebraska.

Nebraska Senators Deb Fischer and Ben Sasse and U.S. Representative Jeff Fortenberry were in attendance, along with many of the partners who were so instrumental in making this $9 million renewal a reality. It was a time to celebrate not only our accomplishments but also the bright future ahead.

A special thank you goes out to all of our partners: Wyndham Vacation Ownership, Elements HospitDSC_9941ality, Classic Painting & Decorating, Inc., Pella Windows & Doors, Peter Kiewit Foundation, U.S. Forest Service, and Nebraska Forest Service, among many others in attendance.

In addition to our partners, we’d also like to recognize the hundreds of Lied Lodge and Arbor Day Farm team members who worked tirelessly throughout the past months and took on additional tasks and extraordinary efforts above and beyond their usual responsibilities. These team members are the true definition of dedication and serve as an inspiration to us all.

If you haven’t already, check out the photo gallery to see the complete renovation. Better yet, come see it for yourself!

Lied Lodge & Conference Center: A Fresh Face

Lied Lodge & Conference CenterAfter more than two decades of inspiring guests from around the world and sharing with them a passion for trees, conservation, and environmental stewardship, Lied Lodge & Conference Center was due for an update. Thanks to a shared vision with our long-time partners at Wyndham Vacation Ownership, we began a $9 million renovation project last year.

No corner was left unturned. Guest rooms, hallways, conference rooms, The Timber Dining Room, the lobby, the spa . . . it was all remodeled with granite, custom tile, and all-new, specially designed furniture and carpet. Even the Olympic-sized pool got a fresh coat of paint!

Lied Lodge Guest RoomOur friends at Wyndham Vacation Ownership asked their construction partners to join them in generously donating time, material, and professional services to help us refurbish Lied Lodge from top to bottom. They also introduced us to Elements Hospitality, a long-time Wyndham partner that coordinated this massive undertaking.

It was a labor of love for all involved, and we can’t wait for you to experience it for yourself! Check out the photo gallery to see the complete renovation.

Washington Hawthorn: A Blossom Amongst Thorns

 (crataegus phaenopyrum)

Washington-Hawthorn_1-846[1]If you’re looking to fill in the open spaces in your yard, or just add a bit of color to your landscaping, the Washington hawthorn is a great option. First introduced to Pennsylvania from Washington, the tree earned its name because of its prominent thorns.

Legend has it that Paul Bunyan used the Washington hawthorn’s branches as a back scratcher. Here are a few things to note if you’re considering adding one to your landscape.

Environmental Factors

  • Grows 1-2 feet a year reaching 25-30 feet at maturity.
  • Versatile tree, growing in a wide variety of hardiness zone (4-8).
  • Prefers full sun (6 hours of direct sunlight a day).
  • Drought-tolerant, grows in acidic, alkaline, loamy, moist, sandy, well-drained, wet and clay soils.

Physical Attributes

  • Blooms white flowers with reddish-purple leaves.
  • Produces bright red berries that hang until the winter. It is popular amongst birds.
  • Develops thorns on its branches, making it an effective barrier.
washington hawthorn berry

Flickr | Taryn Domingos

Do you have a Washington hawthorn in your yard? Share a picture below!

Russell Moore, Engineering consultant, Soldotna, AK

portrait-Russell-Moore[1]Trees on Former Maintenance Site Reduce Runoff and Improve View

When Russell Moore’s parents built their home on Soldotna Creek, he says you could look over the water and see vegetation except at the Department of Transportation maintenance yard where the trees were gone.

In 2013, the Soldotna Parks and Recreation Department undertook a transformation project at the site to enlarge Soldotna Creek Park, a recreational area on the Kenai River. With a grant from the U.S. Forest Service administered by the Alaska Division of Forestry, trees were planted with the intent of the site serving as a large rain garden, reducing surface water runoff into the adjoining waterways.

figure1-Russell-Moore[1]When Russell heard of the project, he was excited and jumped into the project to personally participate. Russell and community members are thrilled with the results. “I can now see the trees from across the river. They are going to grow, and as they mature, they will have the presence the community will enjoy when they visit the park. For those who live across the river, the trees will help enhance their view to the other side.” He adds, “I feel good to have been a part of the park’s renovation and to know that people beyond us will be able to enjoy it.”

Check out our other Faces of Urban Forestry.

Texas Ebony: The Deciduous Evergreen

Flickr | Dick Culbert

(Pithecellobium flexicaule)

Although summer may be dwindling down, the heat of the sun and limited rainfall is not backing off. This year’s current conditions could be a hint to what next summer will be like. If you’re planning ahead for alternative ways to stay cool in the long-run, then planting a tree is the way to go.

As the name implies, the Texas ebony is native to Texas and only grows in the southwest region of the country. This tree has several unique traits, a notable one being that it doesn’t drop its leaves. If you’re searching for The Right Tree in the Right Place and are limited on space, then check out what this tree can offer to your landscape.

Environmental conditions

  • Grows in several different soils including acidic, loamy, moist, sandy, well-drained and clay. Can survive in the driest conditions once tree is established.
  • Grows at medium growth rate of 1-2 feet a year, and can reach anywhere from 35-80 feet at maturity.
  • Prefers full sun, at least 6 hours of direct sunlight every day.

Physical Attributes

  • This is an evergreen tree and keeps its dense foliage year-round.
  • Blooms fragrant, creamy white and yellow flowers and has 4-6 inch brown seed pods. Fun fact: the seeds have been dried and made into jewelry and shells have been used as an alternative to coffee.
  • Can grow in compact spaces, making it a practical choice if you don’t have a lot of yard space. (Has a spread of 20-30 feet).The Texas ebony is a wonderful tree if you’re looking for shade but don’t have the space. You get the benefit of a larger shade tree with its dense foliage and colorful flowers, and the advantage of an evergreen with year-round foliage

    TX ebony leaves

    Flickr | Wendy Cutler

Do you have a Texas ebony? Share a picture below!





When Science Meets Art: The Tree of 40 Fruit

Tree Grafting is an old practice of inserting a section of a stem with leaf buds into the stock of another tree. It’s a way of bringing two varieties of fruits together in a single tree. It’s also used in repairing injured trees and produces more fruits on each tree. The sight of a grafted tree is quite the marvel.

Sam Van Aken is a professor at Syracuse University and an artist who has been grafting trees for years. Among his pieces is a single tree that produces more than 40 varieties of stone fruits including peaches, plums and nectarines— thus the name The Tree of 40 Fruit. Because of the varieties of fruits brought together, when the tree blossoms it does so in different hues of pink, crimson and white.

The end result will leave you in awe.

What do you think of tree grafting?

Barbara O’Brien, Retired librarian, Tucson, AZ

Pathway Planting Leads to Safer and Friendlier Neighborhood

portrait-Barbara-O'Brien[1]“I always wanted to be a forest ranger, but I became a librarian,” says Barbara O’Brien. Now, she says, “I’m a mini-forest ranger.”

Barbara’s chance to work with trees in the great outdoors came when Trees for Tucson, the City of Tucson and the Broadmoor- Broadway Village Neighborhood Association’s Urban Forestry Committee joined forces to transform a rocky, six-block-long dirt pathway into one that was more attractive, less prone to crime and more easily walked by senior citizens. The result is a paved walkway with palo verde, desert willows and other drought-tolerant native trees on one side and – under utility lines on the other side – a variety of desert flowers and shrubs donated by gardeners in the area.figure1-Barbara-O'Brien[1]

Besides the physical transformation, less crime and increased use for exercise and fresh air, the benefits from this project came from having neighbors do the planting. Work days, as well as tours and special events, continue to be scheduled along the pathway. Barbara reports, “Neighbors from here and from blocks away come out on a Sunday or Saturday with shovels and go to work. You’re meeting people you wouldn’t meet ordinarily because your paths don’t cross. I’ve lived here for 25 years, and I’ve known neighbors who live close by. But now I know people blocks away.”


Desert-Willow: The Tree That Blooms in Drought

(Chilopsis linearis)

desert willow flower

Flickr | Gailhampshire

Mother Nature doesn’t always work in our favor when it comes to nurturing our garden. Although many plants adapt to unpredictable environmental conditions, there are still a number of trees and shrubs that are too stubborn to conform. It can be especially challenging to landscape your yard if you live in an arid climate where water is scarce. The selections are limited, and planting a tree outside of your hardiness zone isn’t wise.

The Desert-Willow is quite deceiving; despite the name this tree has no relation to the willow other than its resembling appearance.  In fact, unlike willows, this tree cannot grow in wet or heavy soils. As the name implies, desert-willows prefer dry conditions and full sun. They are an extremely drought-tolerant species once established. If you’ve been struggling to find a flowering tree resilient enough to put up with the heat, then check out a few of the qualities this tree can bring to your yard.

Environmental Conditions

  • Desert-willow is a medium growing tree, growing 1-2 feet a year and reaching 15-25 feet in height.
  • This tree loves full sun, at least 6 hours of direct sunlight a day.
  • It is a versatile tree and will grow in most soils as long as it is well drained. This includes acidic, alkaline, loamy, sandy and clay. Grows in hardiness zones 7-9. 

Physical Attributes

  • Blooms fragrant, pink flowers midsummer and has 10” papery pods that hang in the winter. Note that these pods will drop seeds and attract wildlife.
  • Usually develops multiple trunks and many branches, making it useful as a wide screen or tall hedge.  Added bonus: the tree can be pruned into a bush. The more it is pruned, the more it flowers.
  • Have willow-like leaves that are long and slender.
desert willow pods

Flickr | Jason Hollinger

If you’re in the Western United States then you may not be a stranger to the desert-willow. It’s a versatile tree that can add color to your landscape. Do you have one in your yard? Share a picture below!

8 Great Benefits of Becoming a Tree Campus USA – Straight from the mouths of other campuses

Earning Tree Campus USA certification provides multiple benefits, both to the school that receives it and the community that supports it. But don’t take our word for it. Below are insights from students, faculty and employees whose campuses are currently part of the program.

1 | Penn State University – Behrend

“Penn State Behrend is a beautiful wooded campus, and I am very proud of the Tree Campus USA designation. Over the past three years, we have added approximately 150 trees to our campus and 100 more in Harborcreek Township, and this designation will allow us to apply for grant funds to plant even more trees.” – Ann Quinn, Director of Greener Behrend, an outreach effort of the college’s School of Science

2 | SUNY – Cortland

“For the campus, it shows a commitment to creating an urban forest that is healthy, and it recognizes the urban forest as being important for human health, energy conservation, pollution mitigation and water conservation too.” – Steven Broyles, Professor of Biological Sciences

One of Prof. Broyles’ students, Elizabeth Fabozzi, also stated, “Being recognized as a tree campus is a huge honor in the tree conserving and preserving community. It demonstrates how the College cares about all of its biotic components, especially the trees.”

3 | Vasser University

“Applying for Tree Campus USA designation through the Arbor Day Foundation was a great way to give legitimacy to our sustainable landscaping efforts and support the historic legacy of our trees.” – Alistair Hall, Assistant for Sustainability Activities

4 | Appalachian State University

“This certification demonstrates Appalachian’s commitment to environmental aspects of sustainability.” – Mike Madritich, Associate Professor of Biology and member of the university’s certification team

5 | Stetson University

“The landscape is much more than a welcome mat for Stetson. It also provides places suitable for informal gatherings, outdoor class sessions, play and quiet reflection. Additionally, because the campus landscape is the only part of the university that some local citizens and visitors see, it should be one that reflects the mission and values we promote.” – Cynthia Bennington, Ph.D., Professor of Biology

6 | Georgia Tech University

“The Tree Campus USA certification highlights all the things we are doing that otherwise people would not know about. A beautiful tree canopy helps in recruiting students and faculty. Once they see the peaceful environment, they want to come in and know more about what we have [on campus].” – Hyacinth Ide, Associate Director of Landscape Services

7 | Clayton State University

“You don’t have to spend more than five seconds on this campus to know that trees are who we are. Trees define us. We want to make sure this campus is not just beautiful today, but beautiful forever.” – Dr. Thomas Hynes, Clayton State President

8 | California State University – Channel Islands

“This recognition reflects the commitment of CI’s entire campus community, which cares about making our environment stunning and sustainable. Not only do our outdoor spaces make CI a desirable place to live, learn, work and play, but they also provide a valuable opportunity for learning about conserving and replenishing the resources we use.” – Dave Chakraborty, Associate Vice President for Operations, Planning & Construction

Learn more about the Tree Campus USA program here or check out the full list of certified schools. Did your school make the list?

Tery Hursh, Physician Assistant and Clinic Owner, Dillon, MT

Trees Bring People Downtown

portrait-Tery-Hursh[1]Street trees are making downtown Dillon, Montana a destination, according to 20-year resident Tery Hursh.

Businesses and civic organizations in the 4,132-person town have joined with the Dillon Tree Board to plant trees and enhance the landscaping along Atlantic Street in the downtown business corridor.

City leaders see the new trees as an example of how the expertise and commitment of the Tree Board has shown the city the value of trees, while adding vibrancy and foot traffic to the downtown corridor.

figure1-Tery-Hursh[1]“I hear positive comments every week from patients about the beauty that the trees have brought to downtown,” says Tery, who works in the area.

Citizen participation helped make the transformation happen. In one weekend, more than 20 volunteers transformed that downtown street.

Funding for the trees was provided by a grant from Montana’s Urban and Community Forestry Program. Were it not for this critical support, visitors and residents would lose out on the benefits of street trees in town’s main commercial district.figure2-Tery-Hursh[1]

“The trees have brought beauty, slowed erosion and made the community safer,” Tery adds.

Check out our other Faces of Urban Forestry.