Seedling giveaway set for Feb. 6

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 25, 2015

Back when I was just starting adulthood and not yet at middle income, some things needed to be free for the digging, pulling up or tearing down. I wanted to plant some young trees for future shade around the second-hand single-wide. So I went to the woods before leaf fall and tied string around young oaks I identified to transplant come winter. I’m not whining about once being young and poor, just segueing to the annual Arbor Day free tree seedling distribution by the Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District. Seedlings will be handed out Friday, Feb. 6 in the parking lot of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, 2660 Sherman Avenue, Vicksburg. Seedlings can be picked up beginning at 8 a.m. until they are all gone, which is usually sometime around noon. I suggest coming early or sneaking off a tad before lunchtime.

As traditional, each recipient will get a packet that contains one each of six species of trees popular for home landscapes. This year’s species are River Birch, Redbud, Bald Cypress, Cherrybark Oak, Sawtooth Oak and Red Maple. Also available will be a handful of Loblolly Pine seedlings. Over the years the two most asked questions I have heard are, “Do I have to take the pines?” and “Can I have extra pines?” The answers are 1. “No” and 2. “We’ll see.”

All the seedling species except one are native to the Southeast. The Sawtooth Oak got here from Asia nearly a hundred years ago. It has two significant uses hereabouts, but not as a good timber species like most of our native oaks. The mature Sawtooth has the spreading canopy and medium height desirable for home landscape trees. And it is a very heavy acorn producer, making it a good one for wildlife, a.k.a. deer camp tree.

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Both the Redbud and River Birch are relatively small trees compared to most of our native species. This makes them okay to plant closer to the house than the others, but do not plant them jam up next to the house. The Red Maple gets only slightly larger. So move it out a bit farther. The Cherrybark Oak ranks right up there at the top of the prettiest really large trees in this area and it is the most valuable timber species in our native loess bluff forests. Landscape-wise, the cypress is considered a fast grower for about twelve years or so. Then it slows down growing over the next hundred. Cypress does not have to be near water or in wet ground to grow. But don’t plant cypress in a mown yard in a low area or in poorly drained soil. The cypress tree will grow just fine in damp areas but so will the cypress knees it sends up to give lawnmowers fits. Loblolly is the best pine species for this area and the one planted in the pine forests in most of Mississippi.

Write it down: Friday, Feb. 6, at 8 a.m. until supplies exhausted for free tree seedlings.

Terry Rector writes for the Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District, 601-636-7679 ext. 3.