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Thoughts about trees for Arbor Day and all year-round

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As national Arbor Day (April 29 this year) approaches, there are events scheduled all over the country to commemorate the day, mostly with tree plantings. You don’t have to participate in an event to plant a tree, just simply buy one that will be suitable for your property. Small lot = small tree. Acreage = large tree.

Plant a tree for your children to hide under or climb. At our first home, we planted a sapling that was the descendant of a tree that my grandfather Rosario Scalise planted when he came to Pittsburgh from Italy in the late 1800s.

The sapling grew into the perfect climbing tree that my daughter Regan started to climb when she was just 3 [see second photo above; click on arrow at right base of first photo]. Many a summer day was spent in that tree, hiding among the leaves. Unfortunately it succumbed to disease and had to be removed. Even though my daughter was getting too big to climb it, she fought and cried with us to leave it alone in case it came back to life.

If don’t have room for a tree, consider donating to a park or conservation group that plants trees in your community.

And if you like, you can go out into your community and look for the old trees, a barometer of your town when it was young. Bring the kids along to let them learn how the trees have grown. Measure them so you can place them at a moment in time. It’s a way to teach your children or yourself a little history and have fun outdoors at the same time.

How to estimate the age of a tree

Big doesn’t necessarily mean old. Willow trees are notorious for growing leaps and bounds in just a few years, so it is difficult to estimate their age. There are a few methods to approximate the age of a tree without cutting it down and counting the rings. One is called measuring at CBH or circumference at breast height. This method allows you to identify the general age of a tree but not the exact age. (It may be off a few decades, taking into account environmental conditions)

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