Paint the town green—with trees

By NANCY WILSTACH / Community Columnist

Yes, I know that the calendar says “February,” but rev up your imagination and think “July”—then, imagine it is a July day a few years from now…

Are you with me?

You are holding a cold, sweating glass of sweet tea. You just finished mowing the lawn or weeding the garden. The temperature is right around 90 degrees.

Ah, there, in the deep cool shade of that oak tree, is the perfect spot to plop down with your icy drink and relax.

Got the picture?

On Saturday you can get the tree.

For free.

Arbor Day in Montevallo is Saturday, Feb. 24. Tree seedlings are free along with expert advice on how to plant them and care for them.

Saturday will mark Montevallo’s 26th annual celebration of Arbor Day. If you are a real tree hugger and have come to the event in previous years, please make note of the changed location.

This year the Arbor Day festivities will be held in Parnell Memorial Library instead of the former recreation building in Orr Park. The rec building has been leased to the Boys’ and Girls’ Club of Central Alabama. So, events such as Arbor Day have had to search out new sites.

Herschel Hale, the city’s Arbor Board leader for every year of its existence, said that the library may be only a one-year arrangement while the Arbor Board seeks a bigger permanent site.

“Arbor Day marks the time of year to give attention to urban trees,” Hale said.

Whoa! Montevallo is “urban?”

“As far as most of Alabama is concerned,” Hale said, “We’re pretty urban.”
From 8:30 a.m. until noon Saturday the city will be giving away 1,300 tree seedlings, he said, including live oak, pin oak, white oak, southern red cedar, river birch, bald cypress and pignut hickory.

“There will be experts on hand to tell you how to plant them and how to care for them,” Hale said.

Besides the free seedling trees, the event features drawings for bigger trees (more like saplings) with developed roots. Those trees are donated by Green Valley Farms. The tree winners will also get their choice among bags of mulch, potting soil and potting mix to help nurture their new acquisitions.

Montevallo has been big on trees for many years. While some Shelby County cities were spreading pavement and calling it progress, Montevallo took the perverse position that green was beautiful, before that outlook was considered cool.

Orr Park is a green oasis with Shoal Creek running through it. Green, green trees set off the red brick of the University of Montevallo campus.

And the National Cemetery, American Village and Shoal Creek Park along Alabama 119 continue the exchange of carbon dioxide for oxygen. Montevallo considers it a pretty good deal.

You can do your part to keep Montevallo green by showing up Saturday and planning for that July day a few years from now.