Members of the Hoe and Hope Garden Club braved one of the coldest days in the Boro recently to plant a tree on Georgia Arbor Day at the Statesboro-Bulloch County Parks and Recreation Department (SBCPRD) location of Mill Creek Park. Bundled up and facing bitter winds, at least by South Georgia standards, members of the club planted an Ann Tulip Magnolia near the parking area across from the wooden bridge in the park.
Renee Perkins, vice president of Hoe and Hope Garden Club, welcomed the attendees and extended special thanks to Tony Morgan, SBCPRD Parks division manager and Consuela Brown, SBCPRD landscape supervisor, for their support and assistance with the event. She also thanked garden club member Peggy Lewis for selecting the magnolia tree to be planted.
Club members held a brief program before planting the tree, sharing information about trees and Arbor Day as obtained from the Georgia Forestry Commission website.
While the National Arbor Day is held each year on the third Friday in April, the Georgia General Assembly proclaimed in 1890 the third Friday in February as the state Arbor Day.
“In Georgia, the recommendation is to plant trees during the months of February and March for the roots to get established before the onset of summer heat,” said Hoe and Hope Garden Club member Cindy Berg.
“Arbor Day is a day set aside for schools, civic clubs, other organizations, as well as individuals, to reflect on the importance of trees in our state and across our nation,” said club member Julia Ann Anderson.
Garden club enthusiast Debbie Floyd pointed out some of the benefits of trees, like better quality of life for Georgians, increased property value when strategically planted and a savings on utility bills with provided shade. Floyd shared that two of her favorite trees are the live oak tree that is “the ultimate southern statement” and Eastern redbud because of their beautiful colors in both the spring and fall.
Sarah Dixon continued with the benefits of trees and pointed out that trees absorb carbon dioxide and trap lung-damaging dust, ash, pollen and smoke from the air, as well as prevent soil erosion, increase water quality and provide shade and reduce temperatures in downtown areas. Dixon noted two specific areas in Statesboro that catch her attention with the beauty of trees.
“The trees at Ogeechee Area Hospice give a sense of peace. And the ride into Mill Creek today, the road lined with trees, was just beautiful,” she said.
Janet Reiber said that looking at a healthy, tall tree reminds her of a people long ago, who first planted the tree that was then nurtured by many generations.
“It’s part of our legacy to keep them healthy for future generations,” Reiber said.
Perkins closed the program with more thoughts about the beauty of trees.
“As we celebrate Georgia Arbor Day, let us be reminded of where and when the first tree was made and that was at creation, when God created the trees in the Garden of Eden. We are encouraged to be like a tree,” she said.
Perkins read from Psalm 52:8, “But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God. I trust in God’s unfailing love forever and ever.”
Perkins also referenced Matthew Sleeth, author of ”Reforesting Faith: What Trees Teach Us About the Nature of God and His Love for Us” and quoted from an article written by him.
“Trees are mentioned in the Bible more than any living thing other than God and people. Jesus died on a tree. There is a tree on the first page of Genesis, the first Psalm, the first page of the New Testament and the last page of Revelation. Every major event in the Bible has a tree marking the spot,” the quote read.
“I find that personally inspiring,” said Perkins. “May the tree we plant today remind us of our creator and the responsibility he has given us to be good stewards of what he has entrusted to us. Let us trust in God’s unfailing love forever and ever.”
Perkins prayed that the Ann Tulip Magnolia tree would grow straight and tall and bring joy to all who see it.