Celebrate Arbor Day by planting trees


Four Seasons Garden Club member Margarete Ruth holds her golden shovel after putting her portion of soil over the Cathedral Live Oak tree the garden club planted in dedication to the men and women serving in the armed forces during their annual tree-planting at the Thomas Center.

AARON DAYE/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Saturday, January 21, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 20, 2006 at 10:59 p.m.
Friday was Florida's Arbor Day, but the tree-planting season is pretty much all year here. For those of you who lost trees during hurricane Frances in 2004, here's a chance to replace them.
Keep Alachua County Beautiful will be giving away 1,000 trees this month and next.
Through a $58,000 grant from the Department of Agriculture, Urban Forestry Division, KACB bought the trees and will be giving them to Alachua County residents (proof of residency required) over four weekends: today, Jan. 27-28, Feb. 3-4 and 10-11.
There will be 250 15-gallon-size trees distributed each week at Harmony Gardens, 5416 NW 8th Ave. (Newberry Road). These are intended to begin replacing the many trees lost to the 2004 hurricanes in this area.
Species to be distributed (all native except for crape myrtles) are live oak, red maple, bald cypress, yaupon holly, East Palatka holly, Savannah holly, river birch, crape myrtles and possibly chickasaw plum. The trees are supplied by Grandiflora, formerly San Felasco Nursery.
Here's a little bit about the trees, to help you prepare a proper planting spot if you are getting one:
  • Live oak: A massive tree when mature, so be sure to give it PLENTY of room both for the branches and the roots. The canopy can spread 40 to 50 feet, and grow to 40 feet high. It is evergreen and prefers moist soil. It can be sandy or clay; it even tolerates salt spray. Prune branches early to shape growth.
  • Red maple: This is a deciduous tree that prefers moist, even wet, soil. It is fast-growing, reaching 40 to 60 feet tall and 25 to 35 feet wide. Some grow even larger in the wild. It has colorful fall foliage of red, yellow and orange. Dense showy red flowers are at branch tips late winter. Feeding roots are close to the surface, so red maples should be planted where there is no grass under the canopy; mowing over these roots will damage mowers. Prune early to a single trunk.
  • Bald cypress: Bald-cypress does not necessarily need to grow in a bog or pond; it adapts quite well to normal landscape conditions, and withstands drought.
    This is also a very large tree, growing to more than 130 feet tall. It is pyramidal when young, but when mature it flattens and can have a crown spread of as much as 60 feet. The tree is deciduous, with the needles turning rusty brown before dropping. Bald cypress can live 500 years.
  • Yaupon holly: Yaupon holly is really a tall (20- to 25-foot) shrub which can be pruned into a tree shape if you want. The evergreen leaves are rounded; only the female plant has the distinctive red berries, but most commercial hollies are produced vegetatively, so you are pretty sure to get a female. It tolerates a variety of soils, but prefers acid soils. It can tolerate some shade, but grows denser in the full sun.
  • East Palatka holly: Another evergreen that can grow to 45 feet tall. Leaves have a spine at the tip, sometimes along the edges, and red berries on the female plants in the winter. It is very drought tolerant, but grows quicker in moist, acid soils with full sun.
  • Savannah holly: This is another hybrid very similar to the East Palatka, but has lighter green foliage. Savannah grows up to 30 feet high and 15 feet wide.
  • River birch: Growing 40 to 50 feet high and half as wide, river birch's interesting shaggy trunk makes it a wonderful tree in the winter as well as when it has leaves. The tree is intolerant of shade. It can grow in wet soils as well as dry ones. It grows everywhere in the country but South Florida and the California coast.
  • Crape myrtles: These medium-sized trees are quickly becoming a Gainesville staple. Their nice shape (if pruned correctly) and multitudes of flowers (white, pink, lavender, salmon, watermelon red) make them suitable additions to any home site. They don't grow or flower well in less than full sun conditions. Flowers on new growth; but you don't have to prune it to get new growth each spring.
  • Chickasaw plum: These smallish multistemmed trees - 15 to 25 feet high and wide - can tolerate a bit of high shade. Lots of white flowers in late winter/early spring often followed by small fruits that attract birds and small mammals. It is deciduous; stems have thorns, making them a good shelter for birds.
    Marina Blomberg can be reached at 374-5025 or blombem@gvillesun.com
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