Oak Lane tree-giveaway aims to ‘get into your spirit’

To commemorate Arbor Day, the Fairmount Park Conservancy, the city Parks and Recreation Department and Wells Fargo Bank distributed 160 trees for a “Tree Philly” event in Oak Lane last weekend.

Launched in February, Tree Philly a tree-planting initiative in which the city urges property owners, businesses and neighbors to improve their communities by planting and maintaining trees.

A healthy continent of volunteers from Wells Fargo was on hand, as the event also commemorated the business’ 160th anniversary of being in the banking business.

Philadelphians who registered ahead of time could choose from six species of trees including River Birch, White Oak, Flowering Dogwood, Sweet Bay Magnolia, Serviceberry and the Eastern Redbud.

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Lofty goals

Mayor Michael Nutter said that in addition to boosting property values, planted trees help with other community issues.

“Part of our goal is to have 30 percent tree cover in Philadelphia by 2025,” said Nutter. “That does a lot of things for us. It does help to clean up the air. It helps stabilize soil. It helps us with stormwater management issues. And, of course, the tree cover, certainly in the spring and summer and even into the fall months, helps to keep the temperatures down in those communities.”

Chestnut Hill resident Alex Davis-Booth picked up a Serviceberry, a tree that produces edible berries and flowers that change from white to reddish-orange, to plant in his garden.

“It’s going to add some presence and some shade,” said Davis-Booth. “We like the shelter and the shade from the trees in the summer because it’s a very hot city.”

Trees “change the mood”

Wanda Greene has a small backyard, so picked up the smallest tree she could find: the Eastern Redbud, which produces purple flowers that turn white when it is hot. The vibrant color was a selling point, she said.

She maintained that more trees could ultimately change bad behavior.

“If you beautify the surroundings, it gets into your spirit,” she said. “Trees, greenery and flowers change the mood, it changes the landscape. If you would see the worst neighborhoods with all kinds of problems, but if you plant trees, it will automatically change everything.”

During the event, volunteers from Wells Fargo assisted at the Oak Lane Library by planting and replanting six trees, clearing debris and mulching the property.

They also cleaned the tree pits along Oak Lane Avenue at the Ellwood Elementary School and tended to the trees that were planted in the school yard by local tree tenders.

Attendees could also take a ride on the iconic Wells Fargo stage coach and horses, get their face painted and eat free pretzels and water ice.

Tree Philly activities were also going on in Kensington, Frankford, Haddonton and South Philadelphia on Saturday.

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