Judy Thompson and Jennifer Gregory of the Hoover Beautification Board enjoyed the city’s 2014 Arbor Day celebration. Photo courtesy of Lori Salter-Schommer.
For many with a green thumb, March in Hoover means one thing — the Arbor Day tree giveaway. That annual highlight will take place on Saturday, March 7, at Aldridge Gardens.
Hosted by the Hoover Beautification Board, this year marks the city of Hoover’s 17th annual Arbor Day celebration. Festivities will begin first with the tree giveaway at 9:30 a.m., followed by the announcement of Arbor Day fourth-grade essay contest winners, and will conclude with a ceremonial tree planting.
Since the city’s inaugural Arbor Day celebration in 1999, which took place at Bluff Park Elementary, residents have turned up in ever-increasing numbers to claim one of the seedlings for planting in their own yards.
While the giveaway is only part of the Hoover Beautification Board’s Arbor Day festivities, it remains a highlight for many. For Hoover City Forester Colin Conner, it’s a philanthropic gesture that has already paid environmental dividends.
“We have effectively reforested the Bluff Park Elementary campus just with Arbor Day trees,” he said, adding that many of those were from bare root seedlings provided by the Alabama Forestry Commission.
This year, a total of 150 container seedlings will be available (one per Hoover household), including bald cypress, American beech, dogwood, crabapple, American fringetree, longleaf pine, eastern red cedar, southern red oak and white oak. The trees are purchased with funds from the Arbor Day budget (a modest $2,500, administered by the Hoover Beautification Board and the Hoover Urban Forestry Division) and are sourced from Advantage Forestry LLC in Demopolis.
“We always look for native tree species that are ‘urban tolerant,’ that cover a range of sizes and that provide a variety of aesthetic characteristics,” said Conner. “With trees, there is no such thing as one size fits all, so it’s important to plant the right tree in the right place, for the right reasons.”
Conner, along with several area arborists and master gardeners, will be available to help residents learn which Arbor Day tree makes the most sense for their property. These experts can also help answer questions regarding tree planting and care.
Another highlight this year will be the acknowledgment of fourth-grade Arbor Day essay contest winners. According to Beautification Board member Jennifer Gregory, 2014 marked the first year in the board’s Arbor Day history that all 10 elementary campuses within Hoover City Schools participated. This year’s theme asks students to write about a personal experience with a specific tree or a forested area within the city of Hoover.
Prior to and following the city’s Arbor Day celebration (specifically from Feb. 23 to Mar. 13), Conner will work with area schools to execute their own Arbor Day programs. “We offer that window as a means of accommodating the different school schedules and to keep our celebrations in line with Alabama’s Arbor Week, which is the last full week in February,” he said. Conner will assist participating Hoover City Schools by providing and planting one tree at each school that hosts a celebration.
If for no other reason than to enjoy a morning outdoors in one of Hoover’s most scenic community spaces, Conner encourages residents to stop by and take in all that Aldridge Gardens has to offer.
“With full access to Aldridge Gardens, visitors will be able to tour the new Dirr hydrangea collection and several new walking trails,” he said. “And each year we look for new vendors to support the event; you never know who might be there with local food or other items!”
City of Hoover’s 17th Annual Arbor Day Celebration
Hosted by the Hoover Beautification Board
Saturday, March 7, Aldridge Gardens
9:30 a.m. Tree giveaway
10:30 a.m. Arbor Day ceremony featuring fourth-grade Arbor Day essay contest winners
11 a.m. Ceremonial tree planting