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Skaggs: Celebrate Arbor Day by planting one of these trees
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Today is Arbor Day in Georgia. Arbor Day provides us with an opportunity to educate and inform all people, young and old, about the benefits of trees and tree planting.

What better way to celebrate Arbor Day than to plant a tree?

You may be asking, "What kind of tree do I plant?" Well, that’s really up to you. If you’re looking for a few suggestions, here are three to consider.

One of the few truly red Crape Myrtles, the Arapaho crape myrtle, is a relatively new introduction from the U.S. National Arboretum.

The Arapaho displays bright, soft, feathery blossoms for two to three months. While many red crape myrtles display varying shades of pink, from light to dark, Arapaho provides consistent red color.

Arapaho can be used as a specimen flowering tree, in borders, mass plantings or screens.

It is best known for its cold tolerance and high mildew resistance. It prefers well-drained soils and good air circulation. Best planted in full sun, Arapaho has a fast growth rate reaching up to 20 feet tall and about half as wide. Arapaho blooms profusely in July and August.

Dura-Heat river birch is a fast growing, deciduous tree with a dense, fibrous root system. It typically grows to 30 to 40 feet tall and up to 25 feet wide.

Dura-Heat river birch holds up better to heat stress than other birch cultivars, and does not defoliate as much in the summer months like the Heritage river birch, giving it a fuller, more dense appearance.

Its leaves are smaller and thicker than those of most birch species. Lustrous, dark-green leaves turn butter-yellow in fall, and the creamy-white exfoliating bark on branches adds to winter interest.

Adaptable to various soil conditions, Dura-Heat river birch performs well in clay and sandy soils. It prefers moist sites, but tolerates drier and hotter conditions better than most other river birch cultivars.

"Glowing Embers" Japanese maple is a medium-sized deciduous tree growing to 30 to 40 feet high and wide.

Glowing embers is an award-winning selection from Michael Dirr’s plant evaluation program at the University of Georgia. The finely toothed foliage and dense canopy provide nice shade.

Glowing embers was selected for its vigorous growth, brilliant fall color and landscape adaptability. It thrives in full sun and is quite drought tolerant. Fall colors can include purple, orange and yellow.

The Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce Beautification Committee is holding its annual Arbor Day Celebration at 10 a.m. today at the Northeast Georgia History Center at Brenau University.

Arbor Day festivities include a joint proclamation from Gainesville and Hall County. In addition, students from area schools will be recognized for participating in the Arbor Day Art Contest.

Refreshments will be served and seedlings will be available from the Georgia Forestry Commission. The event is free and open to the public.

Come help us celebrate Georgia Arbor Day!

Billy Skaggs is an agricultural agent and Hall County Extension Coordinator. Phone: 770-531-6988. Fax: 770-531-3994.

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