I am writing to you on Arbor Day – I hope you all, like me, are planting or planning plantings today! And I hope you all read the op-ed column in Cleveland.com from Clem Hamilton, Director of the Holden Arboretum and CBG, about restoring the tree canopy in “the Forest City”. In case you didn’t know before, Cleveland is not “The Big Apple” or “The City of Angels” or even “The City of Brotherly Love”. Cleveland’s nickname is “The Forest City”, but in recent decades we have lost almost all of the forests in the city and near suburbs. Our tree canopy has shrunk drastically, and we all suffer as a result.
I challenge us all to take a pledge: let us each alone, and all together, take at least one step this year to restore trees – one at a time, if necessary – to our environment. Trees clean the air, lower the summer temperature, break desiccating winds, and slow deadly rainwater runoffs that cause algae blooms. They provide food and shelter for our birds, animals, and native pollinators. They raise our property values and lower our blood pressure. Another proven medical benefit is that a simple view of trees speeds human healing. A healthy tree canopy has been proven to lower the crime rate in a neighborhood! They give us glorious dappled shade to sit under when enjoying picnics. They allow us to sling hammocks for lazy days. They provide structure for holiday lights, and catch our kites, as Charlie Brown can well attest. They teach our children to swing high in the air and to climb for the skies. They give us apples and pears and cherries and peaches and all sorts of fruits. They bloom in the spring (or summer, or fall) to remind us that long, warm, sunny garden days are always coming our way.
In 2015 the Club’s major gift went to a project spearheaded by the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, including support by Holden, CBG, Union Miles Development, and the city of Cleveland, planting 26 trees beside the Miles Park Elementary School. Those of us who attended the tree planting were astounded by the kids’ smiles and excitement, and by the depth of heartfelt, emotional thanks expressed by the neighbors to the SLGC. The presence of trees makes a gigantic change to a neighborhood, and knits people together. We will all benefit from committing ourselves to tree planting both at home and all around us.
And speaking of things that bring us together: The Flower Show! There remain a very few opportunities in Floral Design and Botanical Arts for aspiring designers. If not now, when? Go ahead and enter! This stuff is fun to do, and you cannot lose (literally you cannot lose; with four entrants in each class and four ribbons in each class, it’s a slam dunk!). Treat yourself to an amusing couple of hours creating art with friends! I am doing a floral display with a friend, and I guarantee my work is not winning, but she and I always enjoy playing at it together. You will, too – give it a shot!
And in the meantime, hug a tree and plant another one! Happy Spring!