Since 1997, Keep New Hanover County Beautiful has partnered with public and private sponsors to hold the annual TreeFest tree distribution during which members of the community can pick up to five varieties of native tree species seedlings to plant in their own yards.
This year TreeFest will be held inside Independence Mall in the court outside JC Penny on Friday, Jan. 26, and Saturday, Jan. 27, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Each year the TreeFest Committee organizes the event and the foresters and arborist that make up the committee choose which available species to include. This year, the available seedlings include Atlantic white cedar, bald cypress, black gum, black walnut, Chinese chestnut, live oak, river birch, Mockernut hickory and long leaf pine, among others. New to TreeFest, wiregrass and pink muhly grass seedlings will also be available for pickup.
Jennifer O’Keefe, environmental educator for New Hanover County, said the seedlings are purchased from the North Carolina Forest Service nursery in Goldsboro with the donations collected from the previous year’s TreeFest. Although the event is free, a donation of $3 for each household is suggested to ensure TreeFest will continue.
At the event, O’Keefe said important technical information about each tree species would be displayed like how large the tree will grow, and the optimum soil and light for each species. Remembering how large some of these species can grow is an important consideration when choosing a tree, O’Keefe said.
“Taking into account how big they are going to be and what is above what you’re planting, or below … how much space you are going to need for the tree so when it does start to grow you’ve allowed enough space,” she said.
The committee selects species that will thrive in southeastern North Carolina and O’Keefe said most of the species available are hardy after a year of careful nurturing and after they have established their roots.
TreeFest operates on a first come, first served basis and O’Keefe said the river birches, live oaks and many of the small flowering trees are the first to go.
For more information about TreeFest, including a complete list of available species, visit www.keepnhcbeautiful.org