With a week to go before this year’s actual date, the Marple Tree Commission celebrated Arbor Day last Friday by planting a black locust at North Malin Road’s tot lot.
Joined by local residents and elected officials on the day before Earth Day, the group added the tree to the landscape in a spot visible to all who bring their youngsters to enjoy the equipment.
The sapling joins another one planted recently near the jungle gym.
“The timing is perfect,” said member Liz Ball referring to Earth Day. “It is a wonderful day to take in the whole landscape.”
The history of the Arbor Day holiday was recounted in a proclamation read by Commissioner Dan Leefson. Founded in Nebraska by J. Sterling Morton, an estimated one million trees were planted on the first Arbor Day in 1872. The national holiday, on the last Friday in April, provides an opportunity to encourage individuals to continue the tradition by planting and caring for trees.
A fast-growing species, Robinia pseudoacacia typically reaches a height of 60-80 feet with a 50-foot spread at maturity. It has blue-green foliage and fragrant clusters of white or pink flowers which bloom in late spring or early summer.
The festivities included the presentation of the Tree City USA flag by Harris Nowotarski, of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Resources, Bureau of Forestry. Tree Commission President Rick Ray described the proper method of bare-root tree planting, such as pruning the ends of certain limbs.
“It makes room for the new branches to grow,” he said. “If you don’t do it now, you will need a ladder later.”
With help from fellow commission member Janice Egan and her granddaughters, Caleigh and Taylor, Ray placed the sapling in the ground, covered it with soil and staked it to provide support and ensure straight growth while it matures.
Like all the trees planted by the group, the black locust will be tended by a volunteer who will visit it weekly with five gallons of water which slowly drains through the small holes drilled in the bottom of a bucket. The list of helpers is lengthy and volunteer coordinator Marianne Price acknowledged their work.
Nowotarski noted the significance of the event.
“Most holidays celebrate the past,” he said. “Arbor Day celebrates the future.”