Thursday, April 21, 2016

I’ve never had much of a green thumb. In fact, whatever color would be opposite, that’s what I would consider my thumb to be. Neon pink, maybe? Though, over the years, I have tried to plant flowers and vegetables, the items I plant never turn into much other than dried-up or overgrown messes.

What’s funny is I grew up with a Master Gardner for a grandfather. Grandpa Fred’s specialty was composting, and I remember taking banana peels, leftovers and whatever else we could find that were labeled as scraps and throw it all in the compost. But, more than compost, he had the most beautiful gardens in his backyard in South Kansas City.

My grandma also loved her flowers, and nurtured a flower bed on the side of their house. Inside the flower bed was one of my favorites: a Japanese Maple. The tree, also one of Grandma’s prized possessions, had small, bright red leaves and was not very big, just as tall as their house. In the spring and later in the fall, I was always curious to see what shade of red the leaves had turned.

At my own home growing up, we had a Ponderosa Pine in front of our circle drive, and I remember gathering pinecones later in the season, adding some peanut butter and a string, and watching the birds and squirrels come enjoy their feast.

Though I don’t know the names of most of them, or even the species, I’ve always appreciated the trees in our community. Whether climbing them, seeking their shade on hot summer days, or using their leaves as part of Thanksgiving decorations, they easily become part of our lives. This Arbor Day, even if you don’t plant a new tree on your property, I encourage you to get to know the trees you have a little better. Visit to join and receive ten free trees and a plethora of information on the trees in our area.

They clean air and water, slow climate change, ease poverty and hunger, prevent species loss, and feed the human soul. All we need to do is plant and care for them. Let’s work together to make it happen in our community and around the world.