The United States has celebrated Arbor Day for 150 years. This is a national day to promote tree planting and care. Philadelphia has celebrated Arbor Day annually since at least 1976. Here are four ways Parks & Rec marked the 2022 event at Belmont Plateau:

1. A ceremonial tree planting

Last December, Parks & Rec made the difficult decision to remove the iconic maple tree on Belmont Plateau. As a result of climate change, and human activity, the tree was in deep decline and dangerous. In its place, Parks & Rec planted a trio of black gum trees. Our skilled arborists led the ceremonial tree planting and will look after the trees for decades to come. Harmony Hill Nursery generously donated the trees.

2. A student-led presentation on black gum trees

Before the tree planting, there was a presentation. Horticulture students from W.B. Saul High School spoke about black gum trees. The scientific name for these trees is Nyssa sylvatica. They have many common names. These include black tupelo, sour gum, pepperidge, tupelo, and tupelo gum. Its genus name, “Nyssa”, comes from Greek mythology as a name given to a water goddess. Black gum trees are excellent trees that produce beautiful leaves in the summer and fall. They grow slowly, but can grow up to 80 feet tall! Thanks to Ms. Lisa Blum’s 10th and 11th grade horticulture students for their research. Speakers included Alanys Cintron, Kaydence Hamilton, Symphony Johnson, Amari Cooks, Viana Adams, and Gabriel Hernandez-Nieves.

3. A presentation of Philly’s 46th consecutive Tree City USA award

Philadelphia received the Tree City USA recognition from the Arbor Day Foundation. Representatives from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources presented the award. This is the 46th time Philadelphia received this honor.

To keep this honor, since 1976 Philadelphia has:

  • Maintained a tree board or department.
  • Had a community tree ordinance.
  • Spent at least $2 per capita on urban forestry.
  • Celebrated Arbor Day every year.

4. Children’s activities

Parks & Rec hosted students from Samuel Gompers Elementary School. Students enjoyed a nature walk led by our staff. Our arborists also demonstrated how they climb trees to maintain them. Students created their own “tree necklaces” and took home Belmont Maple tree cookies. These were provided by Tiny WPA.

5. Bonus! Celebrating Arbor Day, everyday

While Arbor Day may only be one day, caring for our trees is a year-round job. Philly needs your help. Help care for our parks and trees. Love Your Park week takes place May 7 to 15, 2022. This annual celebration of Philly parks features volunteer opportunities and fun events in parks across the city. Read more about the event and register!