Arbor Day isn’t until April 25, but local residents with tree-planting fever came in droves to the parking lot of Smitty’s Ace Hardware in Hermiston Saturday morning to get free tree saplings.
The annual Arbor Day Tree Giveaway, sponsored by the Hermiston Rotary Club and the Hermiston Parks and Recreation Department, got under way at 9 a.m., but people were waiting in line well before that.
“Someone called me from Alaska this morning to make sure I saved some saplings for them,” said Carlisle Harrison, who led the event.
Harrison, a member of the Hermiston Parks and Recreation Committee, said that the Arbor Day Tree Giveaway tradition began more than 25 years ago.
This year, 2100 saplings were up for grabs. The breeds included red maple, Amur “flame” maple, green ash, river birch, ponderosa pine, and Peking lilac. Harrison picked them up Friday from a nursery in Salem.
The giveaway is always the first Saturday in April. Arbor Day is too late to plant the saplings, Harrison said.
As far as planting tips go, according to Harrison, “the main thing is to get them in the ground as quick as possible — and with plenty of water.”
Each year, the giveaway lasts until all the saplings have been taken by those willing to plant them. Saturday’s free trees may have all been snatched up, but those Arbor Day aficionados who missed out can take heart – this well-rooted tradition will most likely return next year.
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