The Homeowners Column

The Homeowners Column

Give the Living Gift of a Tree

Photo of Sandra Mason

Sandra Mason
Extension Educator, Horticulture
slmason@illinois.edu

Oh, the sounds of the gift-giving season are in full throttle. If you are interested in giving gifts that will last past the next garage sale, consider the living gift of a tree.

American Forests (www.americanforests.org), is the nation's oldest nonprofit conservation organization and a world leader in planting trees for environmental restoration. It also offers some interesting ideas for gifts.
Through its American Forests Historic Tree Nursery Project you can purchase trees propagated from American historic trees. These "Living Witnesses" of historical events are established through seeds and cuttings from the original trees.

How about a Clara Barton Redbud for instance? The Clara Barton Redbud grows outside of what was Clara's private office at the Glen Echo, Maryland, home of the founder of the American Red Cross.

Author Henry David Thoreau wrote "Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads." He spent two years beside Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts. The Thoreau Weeping Willow grew from a cutting taken from a tree at Walden Woods.

Many of the historic trees are associated with the Civil War. The Robert E. Lee Chestnut Oak grows at the immense plantation where the Confederate general was born. The huge Antietam Sycamore is a living witness to the 23,000 lives lost during the Civil War battle of Antietam Creek in Maryland on September 17, 1862.

Once you purchase an historic tree, you will receive the personalized Certificate of Authenticity in time for holiday giving, and the tree will arrive at the correct time for outdoor planting at the delivery address. Every tree has a Lifetime Replacement Guarantee, so your gift is sure to bring years of pleasure and beauty.

Most trees run from $30 to $50. How about an Elvis Presley Pin Oak, a George Washington Tulip Poplar, Alex Haley Silver Maple or Edgar Allen Poe Hackberry. American Forests offers many trees with historical significance.

If you would like to help to reforest areas, than American Forests offers the opportunity to send special, personalized certificates suitable for framing that certify that trees have been planted in environmental restoration projects in the name of a friend or relative for the holidays. It is an opportunity for people to remember friends and loved-ones with tax-deductible gifts that last a lifetime: living native trees that will provide clean air, pure water, and beautiful vistas for decades to come. Orders must be placed by December 10 for holiday delivery.

Here are two special tree-planting campaigns individuals might support:

Wildfire ReLeaf - Holiday shoppers can help restore thousands of acres damaged by catastrophic wildfires of recent years through Wildfire ReLeaf. By planting trees with American Forests, gift-givers will be helping to stabilize slopes along streams, reduce soil erosion and sedimentation, and regenerate wildlife habitat. The USDA Forest Service, a partner in the campaign, is currently matching every tree planted for wildfire restoration.

Memorial Trees remembers the men and women who lost their lives in the September 11 attacks with memorial tree plantings in sites across the United States. These newly planted trees serve as living legacies and symbols of hope.

Holiday shoppers can plant trees as gifts with AMERICAN FORESTS in the following ways:

  • Visit www.americanforests.org to plant trees online;
  • Call AMERICAN FORESTS‚ tree-planting hotline at 1-800-545-TREE (8733);
  • Mail a check for $15 or more to AMERICAN FORESTS, Attn: Holiday Gifts, PO Box 2000, Washington, DC 20013. Be sure to include your name and phone number, and the name and address of the person receiving the gift, and your greeting. Every dollar plants one tree. $500 plants one acre.

Also check with your city arborist, park district, and local environmental organizations to offer donations in the name of a loved one.

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