We sometimes take trees for granted, but they enrich our lives in so many ways. They help clean air and water, provide food and habitat for birds and other animals, and help keep our communities cool. And many tress deliver showy blooms in the spring and fiery displays of color in the fall.
Across the nation Arbor Day is celebrated on different dates. Chattanoogans mark the occasion on the first Friday in March each year to coincide with the most favorable weather for planting even more trees. The Tennessee Aquarium has celebrated Arbor Day for many years by offering free trees and 2019 is no exception.
Lead horticulturist Christine Hunt has acquired 300 trees which will be available for free on Friday, March 1 on a first-come, first-served basis at the Aquarium’s River Journey Gift Shop entrance. The public is invited to choose up to three trees.
“This year we have three different bare-root seedlings to choose from,” said Hunt. “All three are fruit trees that will benefit wildlife and provide homeowners more opportunities to enjoy viewing birds and other animals.”
The American Persimmon is a slow-growing tree with a hard wood. The Persimmon is considered to be an excellent native tree for local homeowners. In the fall, the leaves turn beautiful shades of red and produce a fruit that is loved by wildlife and can be used to make puddings and breads. Persimmons are best after a frost. If eaten before cold weather they can taste rather tart. And, if you believe the folklore, the fruit can be cut open to find either a fork or spoon that will predict conditions for the upcoming winter. (A spoon shape looks like a shovel and indicates a snowy winter according to the folklore.)
The Cherokee Plum tree was originally cultivated by Native Americans. This tree can grow to around 20 feet and equally as wide. In the spring, the Cherokee Plum produces small, white flowers. The red plums develop later and are cherry-like in appearance.
Crabapple trees are popular as compact ornamentals. They bloom in the spring and produce fruit in the fall that often lasts into winter. Crabapples are an excellent source of pectin, and their juices can be made into preserves that have a full, spicy flavor.
The free trees will be available at the Tennessee Aquarium while supplies last. Happy Arbor Day!