Celebrate Arbor Day, plant a tree at Burden

The fourth annual Arbor Day celebration at Burden that was set for from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday to celebrate Arbor Day in Baton Rouge has been rescheduled due to weather concerns.

The new date for the activities, presented by the LSU AgCenter, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry and the Burden Horticulture Society, is the same time Feb. 23. Participants of all ages are welcome.

“Visitors are invited to plant a tree in the Burden woods and participate in a 5-K Fun Hike through the Trees and Trails system,” said LSU AgCenter resident coordinator Jeff Kuehny.

“Individuals participating in the tree planting will be given a card with the tree name and GPS coordinates so they can monitor the growth of trees they plant,” Kuehny said. The 5-K Fun Hike will start at the Steele Burden Memorial Orangerie in Burden Center, 4560 Essen Lane at Interstate 10.

Admission is $5 per person and proceeds will be used to support the Project Learning Tree program for children conducted by the Burden Horticulture Society.

In addition to planting a tree in the Burden woods, each family will receive a tree seedling to plant at home. The seedlings are being provided by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry.

Other activities will include a tree scavenger hunt along the trail, a visit with Smokey Bear, and presentations on trees and the environment. Children also will have the opportunity to make decorations for “wildlife friendly” edible trees and learn more about trees and leaves with a leaf stamp activity.

Trail mix and water will be provided for those who work up an appetite planting trees or walking the trails. For more information, contact Kuehny at jkuehny@agctr.lsu.edu or (225) 763-3990.

Louisiana Arbor Day

Arbor Day is officially recognized in Louisiana on the third Friday in January.

If your landscape was affected by recent hurricanes or your new house needs valuable shade to decrease energy bills and improve your comfort of life, now is a great time to plant trees. A healthy tree canopy adds value and beauty to home sites, commercial properties and the community.

The winter months are excellent times for planting trees in Louisiana. During this period, the soil is still warm, encouraging vigorous root growth, and trees will have several months to get established before summer’s heat. Generous rainfall during the winter also makes constant attention to watering unnecessary.

Plant trees properly using these steps:

Dig the hole at least two to three times the diameter of the root ball and no deeper than the height of the root ball.

Remove a container-grown tree from the container. If the root ball is tightly packed with thick encircling roots, try to unwrap, open up or even cut some of the roots to encourage them to spread into the surrounding soil. Place the root ball in the hole.

Place balled-and-burlapped trees into the planting hole. Remove any nails, nylon twine or wire basket that has been used to secure the burlap. Then fold down the burlap from the top half of the root ball or remove the burlap without causing damage to the root ball.

Make the top of the root ball slightly elevated above the surrounding soil. It is critical that you do not plant trees too deeply.

Thoroughly pulverize the soil dug out from the hole and use this soil, without any additions, to backfill around the tree. Add soil around the tree until the hole is half full. Then firm the soil to eliminate air pockets, but do not pack it tightly. Finish filling the hole, firm the soil again, and then water the tree thoroughly to settle it in.

Keep the area 2 to 4 feet out from the trunk of a newly planted tree mulched and free from weeds and grass. This encourages the tree to establish more quickly by eliminating competition from other plants. It also prevents lawn mowers and string trimmers from damaging the bark at the base of the tree, which can cause stunting or death. The mulch should be 2 inches deep and pulled back slightly from the base of the trunk.

Garden series

The LSU AgCenter’s Master Gardener volunteers are offering a Basic Gardening Series at the East Baton Rouge Parish Bluebonnet Regional Branch Library on Thursday and Jan. 24.

The programs are designed for the public — beginning and experienced gardeners.

The research-based educational programs will take place from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Two topics will be discussed each evening. Topics for Thursday are “Hedge to Hedge Carpeting: Turf Grass” and “Butterfly Gardening: Color in Motion.” Jan. 24 will be “Garden Hand Tools — Selection, Use & Care” and “A Stroll Through the Shade-Dappled Garden.”

Hilltop symposium

LSU Hilltop Arboretum’s annual symposium, “Nourishing Gardens: Adding Fruit, Vegetables and Herbs to Your Garden,” is scheduled from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday at the LSU Design Building Auditorium, 302 Field House Drive. Preregistration is require and seating is limited.

Tickets are available at http://www.lsu.edu/hilltop or LSU Hilltop Arboretum, 11855 Highland Road, Baton Rouge.

The program will feature Peter Hatch, director of gardens and grounds at Monticello, with firsthand experience in America’s ultimate edible garden with more than 350 varieties of vegetables and 170 varieties of fruit.

He will present “A Rich Spot of Earth,” Thomas Jefferson’s Revolutionary Garden at Monticello.

Suzanne Turner, professor emerita of landscape architecture at LSU, will present “The Garden Diary of Martha Turnbull Mistress of Rosedown Plantation,” spanning the years 1836 through 1894.

Jeff Kuehny, horticulture professor and resident director of LSU AgCenter Burden Center, will present “Trinity Gardens: Gardening for the Eyes, Stomach and Spirit,” creative design solutions for incorporating beautiful edible plants and ornamentals into your garden.

Got a gardening question? Write to Bob Souvestre, horticulturist with the LSU AgCenter, at Burden Center, 4560 Essen Lane, Baton Rouge, LA 70809, or email to bsouvestre@agcenter.lsu.edu, or call Master Gardeners at (225) 763-3990.