Tree planting event celebrates Arbor Day
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.
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.