Clanton celebrates Arbor Day with tree giveaway

Published 2:25 pm Tuesday, February 20, 2018

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Organizers were pleased to see sunny skies for the annual Arbor Day tree giveaway on Feb. 20 in Clanton.

Many of the past events had been overcast and rainy.

The trees were the size of branches with roots. Many were not tall enough to have leaves yet. Joann Coker said she came to get some trees to plant for her granddaughter. Some of the varieties she chose included oak and pecan.

Some of the varieties available included Bald Cyprus, Pin Oak, Water Oak, Water Hickory, Chickasaw Plum, Holly and Persimmon.

Will Liner of Alabama Forestry Commission said the variety given out each year depends on what the nursery is growing.

“We would like to see our urban tree canopy grow, and giving these trees out is a great educational opportunity for citizens to get more engaged with trees and learn about what goes into caring for trees,” Liner said.

Commission staff, along with the Chilton County Master Gardeners and a representative from Alabama Power, were onsite to answer any questions the new tree owners had.

“The Arbor Day Foundation website ( has an information brochure about how to properly plant a tree,” Liner said.

Jerry Rasberry was hoping to plant some trees to replace ones that had died in his yard. He also picked out some wild persimmon trees in order to attract wildlife.

Ethan James of Alabama Power said the event was a good way to give back to the community “and promote our ‘Right tree, right place’ program, just trying to educate people, on planting near the power lines and what varieties are good and which ones aren’t.”

Ideally, nothing should be planted within 15 feet of the powerlines.

“If you are going to plant in or near the right of way, you need to go with a shrub or flowers, stay away from the tree varieties,” James said.

Brian Smith of the Alabama Forestry Commission said he has participated in the Chilton County event for several years.

While the number of trees available has decreased due to funding, local interest has remained strong.

“In some cases, we will see the same people come every year,” Smith said. “It’s good to make those relationships and keep those relationships going, as well as seeing all the new people coming in. ”

To have the best chance at having a healthy tree, Smith recommends planting the tree in a pot of potting soil and letting the roots develop for a few years before planting it outside.

Placement is also important.

“You can’t take a tree that is meant for a wet area and put it on a hilltop,” Smith said.

He said trees that require a dry area will not do well in a wet area.

Pine trees and certain oak trees are good for beginners because they are not as difficult to care for than some other species, such as Maples or Persimmons.

Master Gardener Pat Farmer was glad to see a good turnout for the event. She said she especially liked the Shumard Oak “because it has beautiful red foliage in the fall.”

Master Gardener Larry Jones had also brought the program’s book on trees, so he could give good answers to detailed questions.