"Arbor Day….which has already transplanted itself…to every state in the American Union and has even been adopted in foreign lands…is not like other holidays. Each of those reposes on the past, while Arbor Day proposes for the future" said J. Sterling Morton of Nebraska, founder of the first Arbor Day in 1872. Affected by Morton's enthusiasm, the Nebraska State Board of Agriculture even gave prizes to counties and individuals for the highest number of properly planted trees, resulting in one million trees being planted on that one first day. Those early Nebraskan settlers took to the idea quite readily, where the prairie landscape offered little windbreak, fuel, building materials or shade from the searing sun!
Today, all 50 states observe Arbor Day, and many places around the world set aside a special time to plant trees and celebrate their importance.
Those pioneers appreciated the value of trees in their city and home landscapes. Today, we are understanding more and more of the true value of these tall woody plants, and know that besides providing homes and food for wildlife and humans and lowering our energy cost in both summer and winter months, trees also increase real estate values, provides cooling effects on entire neighborhoods, reduces noise and air pollution, sequesters carbon and, research is now bearing out, offers tremendous benefit to our social and physical well-being.
In fact, research in Japan and elsewhere has found that trees emit a substance called phytoncides, and when inhaled can boost our immune system. Many other studies have been showing effects of trees and green spaces on stress levels, heart rate, blood pressure and more, and Dr. Sullivan at U of I College of Landscape Architecture has published astonishing figures on the effect of green spaces on concentration, memory retention and stress levels of high school students in his study.
If you are considering planting a tree, spring or fall are optimal times when milder temperatures and wetter conditions are common. There is great information on tree selection, site selection, planting, care and more on our web site at http://extension.illinois.edu/treeselector/. Since a tree provides such long term enjoyment and benefit, a little research time will ensure you are ever happy with both your tree and site selection, too.
Another great opportunity to 'dig in' to the subject, as it were, is to attend a presentation Horticulture Educator Candice Hart has planned calledTree Talk with Hart on May 9. She will offer great information on tree selection for our Illinois climate, proper planting and care techniques, cost benefits and even diseases to watch out for. To view the flyer or for more information go tohttps://web.extension.illinois.edu/registration/?RegistrationID=16296
I've added two web sites I used to scratch the surface of the fascinating research and information on benefits of trees and green plants in our environment. Either reading about, growing, sitting under or looking at; just enjoy the trees around you and be thankful!