Plant a tree on Arbor Day (or hug one at least)!

By Susan Douglas, Henrico Master Gardener

While U.S. government offices remain open, and you may still have to go to work or school, the last Friday in April is a national holiday – Arbor Day! This holiday was established to promote the planting, maintenance and preservation of trees. A popular tradition is to plant a tree in memory of a loved one.

Arbor Day was first proposed by J. Sterling Morgon to the Nebraska Board of Agriculture, and became a holiday in that state on April 10, 1872. Nebraska planted more than 1 million trees in commemoration. Many states followed Nebraska’s lead, and now all of them have a designated holiday. Some states chose their Arbor Day according to the best planting time for trees (Florida’s is in January, Hawaii’s is in November), but Virginia’s Arbor Day is the National one. This year it is April 26, 2024.

150 years ago, our countrymen understood the value of trees. Now our appreciation has only grown. Besides providing the aesthetic backbone and canopy of many ornamental gardens, trees also provide sustenance and habitat to insects, birds and other wildlife, shade which cools temperature and reduces evaporation, and mitigates climate change by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

This April, take a moment to appreciate our trees, and maybe plant a new one.