A true forest is not merely a storehouse full of wood, but, as it were, a factor of wood, and at the same time a reservoir of water. When you help to preserve our forests or, to plant new ones, you are acting the part of good citizens.– President Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919)April is Earth Day and Arbor Day month, when our hearts turn to spring planting and hopes of a bountiful summer season. Besides providing a beautiful environment and oxygen through the process of photosynthesis, plants and trees give us many useful products.Why not plant a few trees and flowers and maybe try a few vegetables, too?Earth Day is the largest civil event in the world, boasting more than one billion people participating in activities in 174 countries. Earth Day is always celebrated each year on April 22. The event was founded by Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin in 1970 after a visit to Santa Barbara in 1969 to witness the effects of the oil spill off the California coast. Shortly after the visit, Nelson and his assistant, Denis Hayes, introduced a bill designating April 22 as a national day to celebrate the earth.Earth Day was not formally celebrated again until 1990, when the Community Environmental Council, an organization also founded in 1970; organized an event. Earth Day has been an annual celebration ever since.The first Arbor Day began in Nebraska, started by Julius Sterling Morton (1832-1902), a journalist and politician. While on the Nebraska State Board of Agriculture, Morton proposed that a day each year be dedicated to the importance of trees and tree planting. Nebraska declared April 22, chosen to honor Mortonís birthday, as a legal Arbor Day holiday, beginning in 1885.In 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt wrote in a proclamation to school children that a day every year, mainly in April, would be allotted for recognizing the importance of trees to the nation, as well as planting them. In 1970, President Richard Nixon proclaimed the last Friday in April as National Arbor Day. The holiday is celebrated in all 50 states; each state sets the official date of the celebration according to its climate.Arbor Day is celebrated on the third Friday in April in Colorado; this year it is April 20.Everywhere we look there are visible signs of products made from trees ñ paper, furniture, tool handles, flooring, kitchen utensils, piano keys, golf tees, bowling alley lanes and spices (bay leaves, allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon). Many common products come from cellulose from the walls of tree cells ñ steering wheels, photographic film, cellophane and thickener used in syrup, frosting, ice cream and Twinkies.If you are thinking itís too early in Colorado to consider planting trees and plants, you may be right. But, there is some earth-friendly planting that can be done in April:
- The Colorado State tree ñ the Blue Spruce
- Garden Spice Coral (Dianthus) ñ a hardy cousin to the carnation that has a long growing period
- Darla Appleblossom (Diascia) ñ in the same family as the snapdragon; it does well in cooler temperatures and the occasional light frost.