Planting for the future

Published 11:35 pm Friday, April 29, 2005

By By RANDI K. PICKLEY / Niles Daily Star
NILES - "Although location is important, the most important thing you can do is water, water, water."
Niles Garden Club member Nancy Clough was speaking of planting a tree on this national Arbor Day.
When Eira McDaniel's physical science class from Niles High School, with the help of the Niles Garden Club and Hunzikers employees, planted a tree Thursday at the entrance to the school to celebrate Arbor Day, they were honoring a long-standing tradition.
Each year the Niles Garden Club donates a Serviceberry tree to one of the community schools. Judy Richter, secretary of the group, explained bits of Arbor Day's history to the students along with interesting facts about the use of wood in our culture. Clough was also there to help out.
After students prepared the soil and did some initial digging, Hunzikers workers made sure the tree was placed and planted properly.
The Serviceberry, also called Shadbush or Juneberry, has white flowers in the spring. The berries it provides attract a wide variety of birds such as Goldfinches, Tufted Titmice, Blue Jays, Chickadees, Cardinals, Robins, and Catbirds. The berries are edible for humans, as well.
The high school science students plan to care for the tree, which is particularly vulnerable until it is rooted.
Arbor Day is celebrated on the first Friday of April each year. For many years, however, Arbor Day was celebrated on April 22, J. Sterling Morton's birthday.
Morton was the editor of Nebraska's first newspaper and moved to the Nebraska prairie from Detroit as a pioneer. He and his wife, Caroline, were nature lovers and missed the trees, shrubs, and flowers that were missing in their new home on the treeless plains.
In 1872, the State Board of Agriculture accepted a proposal from Morton and established the first Arbor Day, offering prizes for the most trees planted. There were over one million trees planted that first Arbor Day.
Throughout history, however, trees have been celebrated in almost every culture.