Though usually taken for granted, trees get special recognition one day each year.
Warren held its Arbor Day celebration on Saturday at Betts Park. For the occasion, a gingko tree was planted on the east end near the tennis courts.
Warren Garden Club President Rebecca Ryan said the tree should provide many years of enjoyment. They normally reach a height of 66 feet to 115 feet, she said, with some specimens in China reaching over 164 feet.
Times Observer photo by Colin Kyler
24 and counting
Left to right, Gabirelle Hahn and Kylee Hennessy of the Girl Scouts along with Paul Brohn and Jim Nelles display the flag Warren received as a Tree City USA for the 24th time.
Gingkos are usually deeply rooted, Ryan said, and resistant to wind and snow damage. In autumn, the leaves turn a bright yellow and then fall, sometimes within a short time span of one to 15 days.
Given its combination of resistance to disease, insect-resistant wood and the ability to form aerial roots and sprouts, Ryan said gingko trees are long-lived. Some specimens are more than 2,500 years old, she said.
Paul Brohn of the Warren Street Landscape Committee said the gingko is unusual as it has separate male and female specimens. The willow, poplar and some ash trees are among the few who also share that trait, he said.
According to Brohn, the female gingko tree gives off an unpleasant smell. However, the tree planted at Betts was altered at the nursery to prevent that.
City Manager Jim Nelles said there are never many trees in the city knocked down after a storm. Many other communities have that problem, he said, because they don't check trees the way Warren does.
"If there's a complaint, the arborist or Department of Public Works checks the tree," Nelles said. "If there's money in the budget, the tree is removed and replaced if it's appropriate."
As it was his last event as city manager, Nelles said it was fitting to be in Betts Park. It's the city's premiere park, he said, and he's always had an interest in it.
Throughout his seven years in the position, Nelles said he's worked to make sure there was always money in the budget for the trees. Now, it will be up to others to carry on that work.
Josie Gerardi of the Warren Garden Club said Nelles has made many contributions to horticulture in the city. In his first year, she said the club was planting gardens at the municipal building. It was the end of the work day, but he came back after changing and helped with the planting.
Cecile Stelter, district forester with the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, presented the city with a flag recognizing it as a Tree City USA. Warren has been recognized for 24 years, she said, and it takes funds, time and accountability to participate.
Adele Tranter of the Warren Garden Club discussed the history of Arbor Day. Julius Sterling Morton began the tradition in Nebraska, she said, where he promoted tree planting on the once treeless plains.
According to Tranter, the trees provided fuel, building materials and shade in addition to keeping soil from blowing away. On the first Arbor Day, more than one million trees were planted in Nebraska.