Jim Chatfield

April 27, the last Friday in April, was the official national Arbor Day, though for the Buckeye State, every day is truly an arbor day as our leafy friends pay us back with their environmental services and with their beauty.

Trees constantly amaze. Consider the seemingly endless bloom of redbud this spring with our on-again, off-again temperature swings. Consider the simple unfolding of the new leaves and their rosy stipules of striped maples and the leathery seed leaves of beech that nourish the tree until the true leaves can take over and harness the sun to produce new plant food.

Trees are everywhere. I was recently in Manhattan, where masses of ever-moving people and skyward-reaching structures would seem to predominate, but above the streetscapes were rooftop gardens with plantings of wonderful variety, from tree peonies to river birches to Japanese maples.

At the Secrest Arboretum of Ohio State University’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster, last Saturday was Arbor Day for scores of Brownies and Girl Scouts from Wayne County. The group, organized by Kim Murphy and Dawn Cazolli of Doylestown, has greeted the renewal of spring trees with songs and skits each April since the September 2010 tornado at OARDC. We lost more than 1,000 large trees in that storm, but more than 1,000 new trees were planted by last September, and we anticipate the 2,000th new tree by this September.

And these trees, oh these trees, have we ever seen redbud trees like these? The early 80s temperatures in mid-March madness was followed by cooler climes that have resulted in redbuds that have now bloomed for over a month. They are still colorful along state Route 585 in Smithville. Everywhere you look: the now abundant weeping ‘Lavender Twist’ redbuds from Brotzman Nursery in Lake County, the glistening new burgundy-colored leaves of ‘Forest Pansy’ redbud, the white blossoms of the ‘Alba’ redbud, and the zig-zag twig growth and heart-shaped leaves of all redbuds, these are surely signs of spring for all to enjoy.

So savor this arbor-enhanced weekend and then on May 5 come to Plant Discovery Day, a premier plant and art sale featuring hard-to-find annuals and perennials, herbs, woody plants and art for the home and landscape on the OARDC campus in Wooster. The Bug Zoo and lunch will also be available. Proceeds support arboretum programs and internships.

Final note

The Arbor Day Foundation recently honored the Kent-based Davey Tree Expert Co. with a Beacon Award for its role in developing i-Tree software to access the benefits of trees in urban areas. Founded in 1880, the company operates in 45 states and five Canadian provinces, providing a variety of tree care, grounds maintenance and consulting services for residential, commercial and government markets.

Jim Chatfield is a horticultural educator with Ohio State University Extension. If you have questions about caring for your garden, write: Jim Chatfield, Plant Lovers’ Almanac, Ohio State University Extension, 1680 Madison Ave., Wooster, OH 44691. Send email to chatfield.1@cfaes.osu.edu or call 330-466-0270. Please include your phone number if you write.