It’s Arbor Day!

    • Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce and other cool season crops should be planted this month for delicious spring harvests.
    • Asparagus will provide you with delicious, low-priced spears for years to come if you plant them now from dormant crowns.
    • Prune wisteria trees and vines by cutting out unwanted long runners and removing old seed pods. Don’t damage flower buds that are clustered at the end of short branches.
    • Fragrant daphne is an early-blooming shrub that will delight you with its strongly scented blooms each spring. Plant it in well-drained soil.
    • Potatoes can be planted this month. Plant red, white, yellow and russet for a variety of uses and flavors.

Celebrate Trees!

Luther Burbank, California’s famed horticulturist, was a legendary figure in his own time. Born in Massachusetts, on March 7, 1849, he made his home in Santa Rosa for more than fifty years and it was here that he conducted many plant breeding experiments that brought him worldwide fame. His life’s labor produced hundreds of plants and trees that have contributed to the natural splendor and food production in our state.

In 1909, seventeen years before he died, the state legislature designated Burbank’s birthday, March 7, as Arbor Day in California. And every year since then, school children and others have celebrated the event by planting trees.

The idea of an Arbor Day began in Nebraska in 1872 when J. Sterling Morton convinced the Nebraska state board of agriculture to set a day for tree planting and name it Arbor Day. Since then, most states have declared an Arbor Day which is appropriate to their climate. National Arbor Day is celebrated on the last Friday in April.

The value of trees can hardly be overstated. Trees solve problems by cooling the house in the summer, reducing the force of the prevailing winds, screening out undesirable sights and reducing noise. They improve water and air quality, provide habitats for animals and plant life and prevent flooding and erosion. In addition, trees have many aesthetic advantages offering pleasant fragrances, beautiful colors that change with the seasons, fruit in abundance, and even a place to hang a swing.

Shade from trees can reduce room temperatures in poorly insulated houses by as much as 20 degrees in summer. To be most effective, trees should be planted on the west and southwest sides of the house to block the hot rays of the western sun. If you plant a deciduous tree which will lose its leaves in the fall, it will let in light in the winter months when it is most desired.

Trees and large shrubs make excellent windbreaks if they are properly chosen and pruned to do the job. The most effective and safest way of planting a windbreak is to combine trees and shrubs over a considerable distance to create a wedge which lifts the wind up and over the tallest trees. Bushy shrubs are planted on the windward side and among the trees with the tallest trees nearest the house. Such a wind break will greatly reduce the wind-chill factor and thereby reduce the cost of heating buildings.

Trees also make the most attractive screen between you and the neighbors, whether they are just next door, or 20 acres away. They can block bothersome glare from artificial lights and make your home environment more to your liking.

For beautiful spring flowers, consider a beautiful weeping flowering cherry with double pink flowers, Krauter Vesuvius flowering plum with its red leaves and light pink flowers or one of the flowering crabapples with flowers ranging from white to pink, red or purplish-red.

Autumn Fantasy Maple with its brilliant fall color makes an excellent, tall shade tree. Purple Robe Locust offers dark pink flowers in spring and a fast-growing, full tree for shade in summer. Fruitless Mulberry and Raywood Ash are also fast-growing trees for summer shade, and flowering pear trees are beautiful in spring, summer and fall.

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