The long line for free trees thinned relatively quickly at Central Park Friday afternoon during the annual Arbor Day tree seedling giveaway, although hundreds of saplings were still distributed to appreciative new owners.
“There was a big line early, but it calmed down quickly,” said Joyce Welch, chairman of the Ashland Tree Board, which serves as an advisory committee for the park and the downtown Ashland business district. Welch said tree giveaways are becoming more common, providing people who want to plant with more options than ever before. She noted the event did not have redbuds this year, possibly the most in-demand tree for local residents.
“Most people wanted redbuds, but of course we didn’t get any this year,” she said, insisting the day remained a tremendous success. “The more trees we get planted the better.”
As a steady stream of visitors carried away bags of what looked like ordinary sticks, Welch said she was reminded of a story John Cannon told about the success of a “stick” he planted. Welch said she had a similar experience with a couple of redbuds that had fallen out and were stepped on during a previous Arbor Day event, adding those trees also survived.
“They may not look too promising, but they do all right,” she said.
The chairman said she expected there would be a surplus of young trees at the end of the day Friday, although she was confident each would still be put to good use.
“They will go to a government agency and will be planted along creek banks,” she said, noting erosion control would likely be the main purpose of those plantings.
“In fact, people have been coming here to get them for that,” she said.
Welch expressed her appreciation for a squad of volunteers from Ashland Community and Technical College that assisted with the tree distribution, especially crediting the work of staff members Mark Swetnam and Ben Harmon.
ACTC volunteer Emily Leibee said nearly 600 had been through the line before 4 p.m.
“Silky dogwood has been very popular, and white pine,” Leibee said.
Balancing bags of tiny trees and a stroller protecting her daughter, Brooklyn, Joanna Caddell seemed pleased with her collection of seedlings.
“I have willow oak, silky dogwoods, Chinese chestnuts ... and others,” she said, checking her list. “I think it’s really good because more people will be able to plant more trees. We always need more trees.”
TIM PRESTON can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2651.