Tree plant­ing event cel­e­brates Ar­bor Day

Newark Post - - Local News - By JOSH SHAN­NON jshan­non@ches­pub.com

The play­ground at West Park Place Ele­men­tary School got a splash of color Wed­nes­day as city of Ne­wark work­ers planted a pur­ple-leaf plum tree there as part of an Ar­bor Day cel­e­bra­tion.

The tree gets pink and white blos­soms early in the spring and has deep pur­ple leaves through­out the sum­mer, Ron Martin, a hor­ti­cul­tur­ist for the Ne­wark Parks and Re­cre­ation Depart­ment, ex­plained to first-graders who gath­ered around to watch.

“Some day it will be a good, shady place to sit un­der and will pro­vide food for wildlife,” Martin told the kids, not­ing the tree will pro­duce small fruit for birds and other an­i­mals to eat.

Parks and Rec al­ter­nates be­tween West Park Place and Downes Ele­men­tary for the an­nual tree plant­ing as a way of say­ing thank you to the schools, which host the depart­ment’s be­fore-and-af­ter-school pro­grams. The tra­di­tion dates back at least two decades.

Af­ter he planted the tree, Martin let each stu­dent take a turn wa­ter­ing it.

The tree will grow about one to two feet per year, he said.

“When you grad­u­ate high school, it should be at its ma­ture height,” Martin said.

“You’ll have to come back and visit our tree,” teacher Sh­eryl Mur­phy told the stu­dents.

“And our teacher!” a stu­dent ex­cit­edly called out.

NE­WARK POST PHOTO BY JOSH SHAN­NON

Ron Martin, hor­ti­cul­tur­ist for the Ne­wark Parks and Re­cre­ation Depart­ment, looks on as West Park Place Ele­men­tary School stu­dents help wa­ter a newly planted tree Wed­nes­day.

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