Arbor Day Planting to Honor Smyrna’s 250th Anniversary

This year the Smyrna Shade Tree Commission’s Annual Arbor Day tree planting at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 18, 2018 will take place in the Library Parking Area off South Main Street adjacent to the Smyrna Opera House and will honor the 250th Anniversary of the Town of Smyrna. The public is invited to attend this free event and reception.  Seedlings of Native White Oak, will be distributed to attendees, courtesy of the Smyrna Downtown Renaissance Association, while supplies last.  Smyrna’s Arbor Day is an official Smyrna 250th Anniversary event.

White OakThe commemorative tree will be a white oak,  one of America’s best-loved trees. One of the reasons for choosing this impressive native tree, was that prior to the American Revolution, white oaks were often selected as “Liberty Trees.” The Liberty Tree in Boston was a prominent symbol for the Patriots during the American Revolution and when the British cut down  the tree, it did as much to strengthen the Patriot cause as any other act. Liberty Trees began to pop up all over the colonies and towns and a few even lived into the 20th century. Lanterns were often hung in these trees to rally the colonists and to call them to gather at night. In Bringing Nature Home, author Doug Tallamy, Professor of Entomology at the University of Delaware, notes that oak trees are responsible for supporting 534 species of Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies), far more than any other native tree or plant. While birds and other animals are dependent on the insects that feed on oak leaves, the acorns provide an important food source to a broad range of animal species.

BirdhouseThe ceremony will also feature an auction of five artisan crafted bluebird houses which will be auctioned for the benefit of  the Town of Smyrna’s One Thousand Trees in Ten Years.  The birdhouses were decorated by invited local artists who donated their creations to the auction.   Winners of the Adult and Youth Classes of the Smyrna Downtown Renaissance Association’s Bluebird house decorating Placemaking Project celebrating Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge will also be displayed and awards will be presented.

Ginko tree

This impressive Maidenhair or Ginkgo tree at the corner of South School Lane and West South Street is believed to be Smyrna’s Tree Champion of this species. It will be recognized at this year’s Arbor Day Celebration on April 18th.

The event will also launch one of the Commission’s newest initiatives to identify the Town of Smyrna’s Tree Champions.  The Smyrna Shade Tree Commission is searching for the largest species of trees within the Town limits in its Champion Tree Contest. At stake are bragging rights and a spot in the Town’s Big Tree Register. It is hoped that the contest might spur Smyrna residents to pay attention and to appreciate the mature trees around themand how they enhance the quality of life in Smyrna.  Residents can nominate a tree by contacting Quentin Schlieder by telephone at (302) 653-6449 or by email at .  The tree will be measured and photographed, and may even earn an entry in the State of Delaware’s Champion Tree Registry.  This year’s award will go to a mature male Ginkgo growing near South School Lane and West South Street at the home of Janet McClure and Mike Kwiatkowski.

The Commission is also celebrating Arbor Day with a new exhibit on trees at the Smyrna Public Library.  The exhibit features many fascinating facts on trees, including the world’s tallest and oldest trees, books about trees, how they benefit the environment and contribute to the public’s wellbeing and the attractiveness of neighborhoods.  The exhibit was designed and staged by local resident and environmentalist, Melaine Minear, and will be on display during the month of April.

Later, on Thursday, April 26, 2018 beginning at 6:30  p.m., Arbor Day Eve, the Smyrna Shade Tree Commission in cooperation with the Friends of Belmont Hall, will launch a new tree tour of this historic site.  Historic Belmont Hall is located at  217 Smyrna-Leipsic Road, Smyrna DE.

Belmont HallThe trees and plantings at Belmont Hall have been sirens for generations of avid professional and amateur gardeners, including luminaries like Pierre Samuel DuPont.  The evening will feature a free tour of the amazing collection of trees at Historic Belmont Hall.  The tour will be led by Quentin Schlieder, a professional Horticulturalist and retired Arboretum Director.  The new self guiding tree tour brochure will be premiered that evening.  Enjoy some of Delaware’s finest specimens of both exotic and native trees!  Enjoy magnificent specimens of Kentucky Coffee Tree, Yellowwood, Hemlock, Carolina Silverbell and many more.

It is an easy walk but you are encouraged to dress for the weather and wear comfortable walking shoes.  Refreshments will be served following the tour.  The rain date will be Thursday, May 3, 2018 at 6:30 p.m. Reservations are required and will be limited.  Reserve your place by calling (302) 653-6449.

The Smyrna Shade Tree  Commission has undertaken an ambitious initiative to increase the canopy of trees which shades the Town and is seeking to encourage others to join the Town of Smyrna’s One Thousand Trees in Ten Years, which is funded from grants, private donations, property owners and the Town of Smyrna.  Those interested in supporting this project should contact Valerie White, the Commission’s Chairman, at (302) 423-6516 or via email at .