Florida Arbor Day Activities In Northeast Florida

Northeast Florida has a strong tradition of celebrating Florida Arbor Day, which was established in 1886 only one year after Sterling Morton established the first Arbor Day in Nebraska. Florida Arbor Day is fairly easy to remember coming on the third Friday of January since 1886. Arbor Day was famous throughout the country early on. Forty-five states and territories were on board with their own version of Arbor Day by 1920. National Arbor Day was established in 1970 by President Nixon, with the annual event commemorated on the last Friday of April.

Northeast Florida cities and county governments celebrate Arbor Day on dates separate from those established by the state and nation. The City of Jacksonville Arbor Day date is up to the mayor’s discretion each year without one currently set for 2022. The three prior dates were November 13, 2021, March 28, 2020, and April 26, 2019.

Morton loved trees planting many on his property, currently designated as Arbor Lodge State Historical Park in Nebraska. “Each generation takes the earth as trustees, Morton said. “We ought to bequeath to posterity as many forests and orchards as we have exhausted and consumed.” His older son Joy Morton founded the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois, preserving 735 acres for trees by his passing in 1934. Their legacy of tree protection is continued in your own tree planting and care in celebration of Arbor Day.

“Florida celebrates Arbor Day in January because many trees are dormant (not actively growing) and lose less water through transpiration (evaporation of water from leaves) this time of year, making them easier to transplant without putting them through too much stress,” according to the University of Florida.

Which tree(s) are you thinking of planting? Earth Works of Jacksonville has available for purchasing Live Oaks, Red Maple, Japanese Maple, St Lukes Plum, Eagleston Holly, Schilling Holly, Brodie Juniper, Blue Point Junipers, Sabal Palms, the Florida State tree along with many other palm varieties, and all the required soil and soil amendments to help your Arbor Day tree planting success. Each year Earth Works of Jacksonville provides an Arbor Day tree planting for a local charity with the Sanctuary on 8th Street being our 2021 recipient. Another charity tree planting is planned for the Florida Arbor Day 2022.

The Arbor Day Foundation promotes a wide variety of evergreen shrubs, flowering trees, fruit trees, ornamentals, nut-bearing trees, and shade trees. And there is no one tree recommended for planting on Florida Arbor Day. “The 1953 Florida legislature designated the sabal palm as the state tree, and the 1970 legislature mandated that the sabal palm should replace the cocoa palm on the state seal,” according to MyFlorida.com. “The sabal palm (Sabal palmetto) is the most widely distributed palm in Florida. It grows in almost any soil and has many uses, including food, medicine, and landscaping.”

“Before you plant, know what your tree needs for soil type, space for the canapy and room for the roots,” wrote Ginny Stibolt, of the Florida Native Plant Society. “Plan ahead for its mature size so pruning can be minimized and also plant compatible understory trees and shrubs to form a pleasant grove that may mimic what might have grown there before the invasion of the most invasive species–us.”

Northeast Florida cities, counties, and businesses host a variety of Florida Arbor Day events, including tree giveaways.

Jacksonville: The city of Jacksonville coordinates with Greenscape of Jacksonville who typically schedules a tree giveaway on Jacksonville Arbor Day, a date that’s yet to be determined for 2022. Jacksonville has been a Tree City USA recipient for 24 years. No 2022 Florida Arbor Day events scheduled.

City of Atlantic Beach: “The City of Atlantic Beach welcomes you to celebrate Arbor Day with us on Friday, January 21, according to COAB.com. “Our festivities will begin in front of the police station at 9 a.m. with opening remarks and a flag-raising by the mayor and the Environmental Stewardship Committee members. If you can’t attend in person, you can watch us on Facebook Live. At 9:45 a.m., we’ll meet at Dutton Island for our Heritage Tree dedication, and then we are planting a tree in each Commission district.” Atlantic Beach also announced in December 2021 the availability of funds for an Adopt-a-Tree program for any resident to apply to receive a free tree to plant in their Atlantic Beach front yard. “In the past, Atlantic Beach has been recognized as a Tree City USA in 1992-1995, 2001-2002 and 2015,” according to Jacksonville.com. “The designation is for the Arbor Day Foundation to help cities across the US manage and expand its tree canopy.”

City of Jacksonville Beach: Jacksonville Beach has had a Tree City USA designation for 34 years. No 2022 Florida Arbor Day events scheduled.

City of Neptune Beach:Neptune Beach has been named a Tree City USA from the Arbor Day Foundation for the 19th year,” according to the City of Neptune Beach. That designation has continued now for twenty years. No 2022 Florida Arbor Day events are scheduled.

City of Fernandina Beach: “The City of Fernandina Beach has received its 19th year (2021) of national recognition as a Tree City USA community by the Arbor Day Foundation,” according to the Fernandina Observer. “This represents the City’s continued commitment honoring community forestry.” Keep Nassau Beautiful for several years now has celebrated Florida Arbor Day by hosting an Adopt-A-Tree program, which due to Covid, was a drive-through event in 2021.

“We will be planting 1 Red Maple, 1 Bald Cyprus, and 1 River Birch at Egan’s Creek Park on Friday (1/21/2022) at 9:30 a.m.” notes David Neville, Urban Forester with City of Fernandina Beach. “These trees will be planted to Honor 3 County Employees for their help in our achievement of the Growth Award (our first time receiving this award). These trees will be planted by Liberty Landscape and are 30-gallon trees. Along with these trees, we will also be planting 4 smaller Bald Cyprus trees from a grant we received through Jim Tootle. This will be at Egan’s Creek Park as well. We will be planting these trees ourselves also around 9:30.”

Clay County: The Garden Club of Green Cove Springs, in Clay County has been planting trees to celebrate Florida Arbor Day. In 2020 they planted trees at the Clay County historical Triangle. In 2019 they planted an Arizona Blue Ice Cypress at the Green Cove Springs Library in memory of Norma Jones. The City of Green Cove Springs will read a proclamation honoring the work of the Garden Club on this year’s Florida Arbor Day.

Town of Orange Park: “You are cordially invited to attend an Arbor Day program and presentation on Friday, January 21, 2022 at 11 A.M. at the Kingsley East River Overlook,” according to the Town of Orange Park. “The 41st annual Tree City USA Flag will be presented to the Town. In addition, the Town of Orange Park will be planting a Sable Palm Tree, in memory of former Mayor Steve Howard, who passed away last year.”

St Johns County: According to the St Johns County Board of County Commissioners, “To celebrate Arbor Day, the St. Johns County UF/IFAS Extension Office Master Gardeners program will be giving away free tree seedlings at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, January 19 at the following locations:
•Ponte Vedra Beach Branch Library – 101 Library Blvd., Ponte Vedra Beach
•Southeast Branch Library – 6670 US 1 South, St. Augustine
•Bartram Trail Branch Library – 60 Davis Pond Blvd., St. Augustine
•Hastings Branch Library – 6195 South Main St., Hastings
•Publix at Murabella – 84 Tuscan Way, St. Augustine
Available tree species include red buckeye, wild black cherry, redbud, beautyberry, southern red cedar, elderberry, arrowwood viburnum, and sycamore. For more information, please call 904.209.0430.”

If you know of additional Florida Arbor Day activities in Northeast Florida that our community should know about send information to johnhawley.earthworks@gmail.com for inclusion in this article.

Earth Works celebrates the 2022 Florida Arbor Day with Dana Doody, Executive Director of the Jacksonville Arboretum & Botanical Gardens planting a loquat tree to memorialize the 136 years of Florida Arbor Day.

For comprehensive solutions to your specific lawn, garden, and landscaping need, contact Earth Works of Jacksonville online or at 904-996-0712. 

Earth Works operates a retail Garden Center/Plant Nursery in Jacksonville and provides landscaping, hardscaping, water features, lawn care service, lawn spraying, and drainage solutions. 

Earth Works proudly serves clients in Northeast Florida, including Jacksonville, Ponte Vedra Beach, Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, Jacksonville Beach, Nocatee, St. Johns, Fleming Island, Orange Park, Middleburg, Green Cove Springs, Amelia Island, Fernandina, and St. Augustine.

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