Mighty trees from 23 years of twigs

Lacey’s Arbor Day giveaway continues to bear fruit for city

ahobbs@theolympian.comApril 13, 2014 

Cary Sweet, left, of McCleary waits as Dean and DJ Lietzau of Lacey pick out their tree starts Saturday during the city of Lacey’s annual Arbor Day seedling giveaway at Huntamer Park. Several people at Saturday’s event shared stories or photos of trees from past giveaways that have thrived.

TONY OVERMAN/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Lacey’s annual homage to trees has established some serious roots.

For the 23rd consecutive year, the National Arbor Day Foundation named Lacey a Tree City. And to celebrate Arbor Month, the city gives away free trees.

Dozens of people arrived early Saturday at Huntamer Park for free seedlings as part of the annual Arbor Day Seedling Giveaway. This year, the city had a total of 1,000 seedlings of five varieties: Eastern redbud, prairie fire crabapple, Colorado blue spruce, purple smoke tree and scarlet oak.

The seedlings — which resemble twigs up to 3 feet long with a clump of roots dangling from the bottom — might someday grow into mighty trees. In 1998, Linda and Bill Smith brought home a seedling for a Chinese kousa dogwood. Today, the tree blooms and produces berries in their Lacey backyard.

The proud couple even brought a recent photo of the tree to show organizers at Saturday’s event.

“It’s fuller than it’s ever been,” said Linda Smith, who wanted folks to know how one Arbor Day tree has blossomed over the years. “It’s been so precious to watch it grow from a little bitty seedling.”

By 10 a.m., the line for seedlings was close to 100 people long. Amanda Orloske stood at the front of the line with five family members from Lacey. Their six trees are destined for Orloske’s yard in Elma. Last year, they picked up Japanese maple and cherry blossom seedlings.

“I didn’t want to miss it this year,” she said. “Everybody gets a tree, so I brought the whole family.”

Crews from Great Western Supply filled hundreds of plastic pots with soil for the seedlings, which were provided by Lawyer Nursery. Any leftover seedlings will be donated to Lacey’s Parks Department, recreation supervisor Kathy Owen said.

The city selects a variety of seedlings based on their projected height or longevity. The selection always includes an evergreen, said Owen, noting that many people return every year.

“I know a woman — all the trees in her yard are from Arbor Day,” Owen said. “She has trees 20 feet tall.”

Councilman Jeff Gadman recalled a time when people could grab two trees apiece at the annual giveaway. He praised the 23-year event for spreading thousands of trees across Lacey.

“It’s part of what makes the city pretty,” he said. “I have a few in my yard. They’re healthy trees, and they grow.”

Andy Hobbs: 360-704-6869 ahobbs@theolympian.com

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