Monday, January 20, 2014

Florida's Arbor Day

Hard-working native trees are also beautiful
and add value to your property.
While most of the country celebrates Arbor Day in April, both Florida and Louisiana celebrate on the third Friday in January. It’s a much better time to plant a tree because deciduous trees are dormant and others are less active, so they can withstand the shock of transplanting better. One thing to keep in mind is that January is right in the middle of Florida's 7-month dry season and extra irrigation will be needed at least until the wet season starts in June, and if the tree is large, it will require extra attention for even longer. I've covered the details of planting trees in my article Trees & Shrubs: the Bones of your Landscape.

Marjorie Shropshire drawing to illustrate transpiration for
an article I wrote in Palmetto.

A day with an artist

I spent Arbor Day Friday on the road and then talking to Marjorie Shropshire, illustrator for Organic Methods for Vegetable Gardening in Florida, about the drawings for my third book "The Art of Maintaining a Native Landscape." I'm quite excited about this project because I think it will help to manage people's expectations when they convert their landscapes to include more natives. Marjorie's drawings will help illustrate the topics I cover. Not only is Marjorie an excellent artist, but she also has an innate understanding of plants and animals. It was a fun and productive meeting.

Lake Worth's Festival of Trees

Lake Worth's Festival of Trees!

On Saturday, I went to the Festival of Trees in Lake Worth Florida. The town had organized a great celebration with educational booths, speakers, native trees to purchase, a kids activity table, and music. Wouldn't it be great if more communities were like Lake Worth, which took the initiative to increase its tree canopy with indigenous trees.

As I explained in my Arbor Day post over on the Florida Native Plant Society blog, trees provide services to communities that translate to actual dollars saved. They purify the air, they soak up water,and the cool the environment. 
"In 1991, Chicago's 51 million trees “removed an estimated 17 tons of carbon monoxide, 93 tons of sulfur dioxide, 98 tons of nitrogen dioxide, 210 tons of ozone, and 234 tons of particulate matter. They [also] sequestered about 155,000 tons of carbon.

"New York City's 592,000 street trees reduced stormwater runoff by nearly 900 million gallons each year, saving the city $35.6 million it would have had to spend to improve its stormwater systems. The average street tree intercepted 1,432 gallons, a service worth $61.

"In Sacramento, California a tree planted to the west of a house saved about three times more energy ($120 versus $39) in a year than the same kind of tree planted to the south.
Ideally, developers should leave a chunk of forest on every
lot, but if it's too late for that, as landscapers, we can begin to
recreate groves of native trees to help the birds & butterflies.
Read the details and see the resources in my post, Plant a Native Tree to Celebrate Florida's Arbor Day.

Celebrate with Trees!

It's not too late to plant a few hard-working native trees in your landscape to celebrate our Arbor Day.  In addtion to all the ecosystem services, mature trees will also increase the value of your home. So what are you waiting for?

Green Gardening Matters,
Ginny Stibolt


  1. Ginny- I live in south Florida and have always wanted to plant a pine tree in my yard. I live in a city development, and wonder if I planted one that would not interfere with powerlines, would that be the only thing to consider with that tall a tree? Would the pine sap and needles disrupt the lawn? I would love to use the needles for mulch, and the pine is my favorite tree, for sure! I would love to hear your opinion on it! Thanks.

  2. Julie, Pines and lawns do not play well together. Pines like acidic soil and laws do better with a slight alkaline soil. The needles become entangled in the turf and they drop all year. If you want a pine, choose one that will fit into your space and plant acid-loving shrubs around it. That way you'll reduce your maintenance and create habitat as well. Good luck.