By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — Together with children from the Boys and Girls Club of the Lakes Region, the city celebrated Arbor Day yesterday by planting a pair of trees — a Katsura and a Stellar Pink dogwood – at Sanborn Park.
Arbor Day traces its origins to 1594 in the Spanish village of Mondoñedo, where today a plaque on the Alameda de los Remedios, a boulevard lined with lime and chestnut trees, marks the occasion. The day was first celebrated in the United States in in Nebraska City, Nebraska, on April 10, 1872, when an estimated million trees were planted across the state. Today Arbor Day is celebrated in nearly 50 countries on six continents.
Several dozen children gathered around the Katsura tree and listened as three of their number — Knevaeh, Olivia and Jake — each read a poetic tribute to trees. One young girl responded correctly when Mayor Ed Engler asked the children the meaning of "arbor" by answering "It's another word for tree." Engler told the children that years from now, when two trees have grown to maturity, they can return to Sanborn Park with their children and tell them that they were here when the trees were planted.
Amy Lovisek, assistant director of the Parks and Recreation Department, introduced Tim Ford, her "guru" who keeps the grass growing green and the trees standing tall in the city parks. Ford answered questions from the children and told them that the department would soon be providing them with seedlings to grow their own pumpkins for the New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival in October.
New Hampshire has marked Arbor Day for the last 130 years, and for nearly three decades Laconia has been recognized the Arbor Day Foundation as a "Tree City" for nurturing its trees in accord with the high standards of the foundation. This year, the city became the first city in the state to receive the Growth Award from the Arbor Day Foundation for providing city employees with training to care for the trees in the city.
Native to Japan, the Katsura tree will reach a height of about 40 feet. Its heart-shaped leaves bloom a ruddy purple in the spring, turn bluish green in the summer and glow apricot in the fall while breathing a fragrance reminiscent of cotton candy. In Japanese folklore, the Moon Goddess sat beneath the Katsura tree awaiting messages from the heavens.
The dogwood, common along the East Coast from Maine to Florida, was once used to treat dogs with mange, which may how it got its name. Birds relish its glossy red fruit that falls in September and October, and its wood, highly resistant to sudden shock, has served as the heads of clubs to drive golf balls and as the shuttles on looms to weave cloth. Legend has it that the dogwood, once a tall tree, was ashamed at providing the cross for the crucifixion of Christ. Seeking Christ's forgiveness, the dogwood found itself slender, twisted and bedecked with flowers in the shape of crosses with crowns of thorns at their centers.
Jake, Knevaeh and Olivia, from left, read poetic tributes to trees as children from the Boys and Girls Club of the Lakes Region celebrated Arbor Day with the planting of two trees at Sanborn Park. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Michael Kitch)
While children from the Boys and Girls Club of the Lakes Region ringed the newly planted Katsura tree at Sanborn Park, Mayor Ed Engler read a proclamation to celebrate Arbor Day. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Michael Kitch)
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