May 16th, 2020

Love a Tree Day – May 16

Did you know that each year May 16 is set aside as Love-a-Tree Day?

Off-white magnolia bloom from a bigleaf magnolia, Magnolia macrophylla.

Savoring the scent of a magnolia blossom is a great way to celebrate “Love a Tree Day!” This is our bigleaf magnolia or Magnolia macrophylla.

Girl hugging tree for love a tree day. Image by Mitra Bryant

We love trees! Tree-hugging isn’t the only way to appreciate them.

We, like you, probably love trees every day. But it’s important to set time aside each year to really recognize and show our gratitude for trees. After all, trees are invaluable; we simply could not live without them. Here are some of our favorite ways to celebrate trees:

Ten Ways to Celebrate Trees on Love-A-Tree Day

  1. Free-a-Tree! Invasive plants can kill a tree in a shorter time than you might imagine. Even commonly found plants like English ivy, Chinese privet and Japanese honeysuckle can easily strangle a tree if left unchecked. In many places, invasives are taking over our woods and crowding out our native plants. If you have woods on your property, you can start removal of these invasive plants on your own. In the James River Park System, you can join the goats to battle the invasive species at set times (but they ask you not work independently). Here’s a full list of invasives to look for.
  2. Sit in your favorite tree. You can climb it if you are human, or just fly there if you are an owl!

    barred owl looking down from tree

    A barred owl peers from his perch in a magnolia tree in Flagler Garden earlier this spring.

  3. Swing in a portable hammock the (socially distant) woods. Live in the city? There are lots of spots to set up a portable hammock in the James River Park System. Just make sure you don’t go on the weekend when the park is busier and parking lots are closed.  My favorites? A pawpaw (Asimina triloba) patch along the James River at Pony Pasture rapids.  My front yard between a river birch (Betula nigra) and a curly willow (Salix matsudana) will do too.

    Pawpaws at Pony Pasture, August of this year

    Pawpaws at Pony Pasture.

  4. Enjoy the fruit of a tree. Here in Virginia, if you are lucky you might find some early cherries. Or, if you are at the grocery store, you might find apples, oranges, plums or peaches. All of these fruits grow on trees.
  5. Get involved with the Richmond Tree Stewards who look after many of our city’s trees. You can go on a self-guided tree walk, learn about pruning, learn how to identify trees and much more!
  6. Learn something new about a tree.  Learn how trees help our environment and read about their value to our community. Did you know that Bald Cypress trees (Taxodium distichum) have knees and can live to be 600 years old?

    Bald cypress or Taxodium distichum at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden with tree facts

    Bald Cypress trees are another southern native. They can grow to be 120 feet tall!

  7. Sit in the shade of your favorite tree. One of mine is the Wingnut (Pterocarya stenoptera) tree by the Robins Tea House. See the strands of wingnuts? They are like hundreds of maple tree seed helicopters stacked on top of each other.  On windy days they swing in the breeze.

    wingnut tree in sunshine with seedpods hanging down. Image by Jonah Holland

    The Wingnut tree (Pterocarya stenoptera) at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.

  8. “Just Be” with a tree. Meditate in a tree. Spend time with it.  Take a quiet moment to give thanks.
  9. Read “The Giving Tree” by Shell Silverstein — or watch it on YouTube! It’s one of our favorites, about a boy and a tree and their love for each other.
  10. Plant a tree! Spring is one of the best times of year to plant a tree. One of our favorites is the beautiful native Eastern Redbud tree (Cercis canadensis).  Because it’s native, seedlings are easy to find. Just look for “babies” or volunteers under existing trees.  You’ll know you’ve found them by the heart-shaped leaves.
    purple trees bloom lakeside

    The eastern redbud, a native tree, blooms brilliantly in early spring. Even though it’s called a redbud, the blooms are a lavender purple.

    Whatever you have planned for today, be sure to take some time to remember all that trees do for us. Even if it’s just for a few minutes, taking time to appreciate the trees and spend time in nature always makes me feel happy and restored.  We hope you like our suggestions. Have a great time celebrating Love a Tree Day!

    Green heart-shaped leaf of a redbud seedling.

    Redbud seedlings (and trees) have heart-shaped leaves and purple flowers.

Jonah Holland is Digital Content Manager at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, where she has worked for 14 years overseeing social media, the blog, and the website. She is also a mom, yogi, open water swimmer, gardener, and seeker. She's been known to go for a walk in the Garden and come back with hundreds of plant photos, completely inspired to write her next blog post.

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