|2017 Arbor Day Festivities
“Heritage Beeches Exclusive to Arbor Day Festivities”
For decades the City of Mountain Brook has given away free trees as part of our Arbor Day celebration, but this year a special offering will be made available to the public. Two years ago, the Friends of Jemison Park joined together with the Mountain Brook Tree Commission to collect seeds from American beeches (fagus grandifolia) growing natively in Jemison Park. The beeches are descendants of our area’s 10,000 year old Ice Age forest and have thrived within the floodplain of Shades Creek and Jemison Park for centuries. It is the beige leaves of the American beeches which we see still clinging to limbs in winter when all other deciduous trees within the park along Overbrook Road, Mountain Brook Parkway, and Cahaba Road have long since dropped their leaves.
After the American beech seeds were collected in the fall of 2015, local nurserywoman Rebecca Cohn potted up the seeds with guidance from Birmingham Botanical Gardens Director of Education Henry Hughes and has been growing the saplings until the beeches were of sufficient size to be viably planted out in our lawns and borders. This March, each first grade student in the Mountain Brook School system will be given a Jemison Park Heritage Beech. The gifts to these impressionable future leaders of our community educate the students about the importance of maintaining our native tree canopy and also serve to evenly distribute the special trees throughout our city limits. These trees provide a connection to our beloved Jemison Park, but because the American beeches are grown from seeds with local provenance, these native trees provide habitat and sustenance for birds and wildlife that our non-native trees do not.
In addition to those trees given to all first graders, a limited remainder will be made available to residents on a first-come first-served basis through the Mountain Brook Tree Commission and Leadership Mountain Brook as part of the city’s Arbor Day tree giveaway on March 18, 2017 from 9:00 am to noon at four local groceries: the Crestline Piggly Wiggly, the Mountain Brook Western, Whole Foods, and the Overton Road Publix. Mountain Brook residents who do not arrive in time to receive a Jemison Park Heritage Beech will be offered additional native trees of southern red oak (quercus falcate), white oak (quercus alba), sweetbay magnolia (magnolia virginiana), and red maple (acer rubrum). For additional information about the Arbor Day tree offerings and where best to plan ahead to plant them follow @mountainbrookarborday and @simswjohnson on Instagram. Happy planting!