Tree giveaway sees record participation

Published 1:44 pm Tuesday, February 21, 2023

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By JOYANNA LOVE | Managing Editor

The annual Arbor Day Tree Giveaway in Clanton hosted by the Chilton Natural Resource Council saw record participation this year.

Brian Smith of the Chilton Natural Resource Council said the event had a record number of trees to give away as well.

A line stretched across the parking lot soon after the event started as community members waited to choose from flowering dogwood, eastern redbud, elderberry, sugarberry, American hornbeam, red maple, persimmon, bald cypress, tulip-popular and scarlet oak branch size trees.

Some attendees, such as Sherry Edwards, were excited about specific varieties.

“The main reason I wanted to come was I wanted elderberries,” Edwards said. “I heard about this and came out, and I got some wonderful other stuff, too.”

The tree holds special memories for Edwards.

“When I grew up, my grandmother made elderberry jelly, and you can hardly find wild elderberries anymore,” Edwards said. “They used to be in every fence row, everywhere. I’ve been wanting to make elderberry jelly.”

Shelbie Harris said she was “just now getting into the plants world and this is a good place to start” as she made decisions about what trees she wanted. Chilton Natural Resource Council members and Chilton County Master Gardeners were present to offer advice and helpful hints on what each variety needed to thrive.

“We just moved and have a bigger yard, so we have more room to grow stuff now,” Harris said.

She chose tulip poplar because she likes its flowers and elderberry as her trees to take home.

Henry and Sonja Johnson were also looking for trees to spruce up a yard.

“We are trying to restore his grandparent’s old property in Verbena, and we are just going to add some different trees than what we have already,” Sonja Johnson said.

Native Alabama bald cypress and a sugarberry will be some of the new additions.

“I’m fascinated with how many native plants there are here,” Sonja Johnson said, commenting that newer hybrid species had been more popular when they lived in Virginia before moving to Chilton County about a year ago.

“She is crazy about plants and gardening,” Henry Johnson said. “She is just amazing.”

The property they are working to restore has been in the family since 1943.

The annual tree giveaway is one way Clanton stays a part of the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree City USA program.