"Arbor Day, an invention of mine, now become a public holiday, destined to become a blessing to posterity as well as to ourselves. It is devoted to tree planting & premiums are given to the largest planter by State Board of Agriculture. On the Morton place, today, Two Hundred Elms, Ash & Linden trees are set out on East Line and East Avenue."
This is the April 8, 1874 entry from the diary of J. Sterling Morton, the Nebraska man who founded Arbor Day in an effort to improve agricultural techniques and increase the awareness of the importance of trees. Today, it is estimated that 18 million trees are planted each year on Arbor Day.
For inspiration, here are a few photographs from Barbara Bosworth's collection of champion trees. These trees are deemed by American Forest's National Register of Big Trees, as the largest tree of its species in the United States.
Here is the Common Pear,
the Slippery Elm,
and the Live Sand Oak.
What is perhaps most striking about these, and all the trees Bosworth photographed, is that they are actually so fragile. Many are dethroned every year due to disease, pests, hurricanes, and fires. In a recent two-year period, 115 champions died or were dethroned. Only three trees from the original register are alive today. For more inspriation on this Arbor Day, here's a little more about Bosworth's photos of champion trees. Happy planting!