Arbor Day and Earth Day

Earth Day

Space image of earth
Photo by NASA on Unsplash

Earth Day was April 22. It is an annual event, begun on April 22, 1970, to demonstrate support for environmental protection. 193 countries now celebrate it. The official theme for 2022 is “Invest in Our Planet.” 

Arbor Day

Photo by veeterzy on Unsplash

April 29 was Arbor Day, a secular day of observance which encourages individuals and groups to plant trees. It is celebrated every year on the last Friday in April. An estimated one million trees were planted on the first Arbor Day, April 10, 1872.

The Difference between the two

In the “Difference Between Earth Day & Arbor Day,” Jann Seal explains at that Arbor Day is the grandparent holiday of Earth Day. Rachel Carson’s book, “Silent Spring,” 1962, inspired the movement towards Earth Day. Seal writes, “Arbor Day’s purpose is to inspire people to plant, nurture and celebrate trees, to make the world greener and healthier. When comparing Arbor Day and Earth Day, one must take into account the fact that both have an end goal of improving conditions on our planet. Arbor Day is community-oriented, with projects focusing on making your lawn and yard more attractive to wildlife and informing large corporations of the necessity of clean air and how replanting our forests can benefit the nation. Earth Day expands on the philosophy of Arbor Day and is now a worldwide project with aims to protect the rain forests and to understand and accept climate change”.

The simplicity of Arbor Day is appealing. Plant a tree, do good. Some approaches to Earth Day that might lead one to think our very presence here on earth is a danger. The risk exists of distorting the order of understanding of what our role is here on Earth. Do we need to protect the earth from ourselves? If so, it feels like there is nothing we can do. 

Some could easily argue against Arbor Day. Plant a tree? Another non-native species? Another plant to promote the 1950s value of a well-trimmed lawn and ornamental trees?

Either side of the aisle can make complaints.

Although, I venture to guess the average citizen does not spend many minutes dwelling on how they are different. But let’s consider it.

What can we do?

Marry the two. 

Plant. Plant a lot of plants. But also learn about the earth and how the blue planet has an internal organization and a blueprint indicating what works best in a given spot. Appreciate the regional differences. As you appreciate them, learn about them. There may be small changes we can make to nudge our landscapes in a direction that is not only better for the earth beneath us but requires fewer additional resources to maintain. Less cost, more time, and a unique kind of beauty.

See yourself as a steward.

You have control now, but generations will follow after you. The ground and its ecosystem is a thing that exists apart from us. Rather than master it and make our will with it, we might learn from it and see how we can engage that natural balance to create a more fruitful land. 

I began gardening just five years ago. Three years ago we moved to the wild untamed land into which, I suspect, copious amounts of chemicals were poured to limit the growth of unwanted vegetation. The soil is poor, but being California, we can work with it and make things grow. 

We added compost, which allows some cover plants to grow to minimize dust. We mowed but allowed the clippings to fall back to the ground to feed it. I grew flowers. The first year, so many were affected by powdery mildew that I armed myself with supplies approved for organic gardening the next year. 

The spring began with ladybugs. When the weather warmed, I began spraying against mildew. Gardening groups and advice websites advocated spraying every two weeks. The ladybugs disappeared.

There has to be another way than just endlessly pumping out more products, I thought. On Instagram, I learned about the project called regenerative farming, the idea that we can plug into the way the earth naturally works and end up with a healthier balance that relatively maintains itself.

I’m allowing the self-sewn sprouts of new perennials to grow. I spray aphids with water but not much else. I am letting go of my expectations around dahlias. We will see what happens. It’s a new experiment for me, but it seems to make sense. 

Arbor Day and Earth Day.

There’s always something new to learn.

Previously published in the weekly column, “Here’s to the Good Life!” in the Hughson Chronicle & Denair Dispatch.

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