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Celebrate Earth Day With Us: A Love Letter to the Ginkgo Tree
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Celebrate Earth Day With Us: A Love Letter to the Ginkgo Tree

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What better way to celebrate Earth Day than to plant a tree? This year we are talking about the many gifts trees give us, with a special tribute to one of our favorite trees: Ginkgo biloba. There is something terribly romantic about planting a sapling that will outlive you, as a living love letter for future generations. Every day we should strive to be better stewards for our environment, and we are especially mindful each Earth Day. 

Benefits of Trees in Urban Landscapes

Urban planting gives us much more than sentimental and ornamental value. Trees provide many environmental services that help us combat climate change on a local level and are essential for the health and safety of our communities.

Water: Trees planted in urban landscapes filter our rain water and reduce runoff, protecting us from flooding and water pollution.

Temperature: Tree canopies provide shade and release water vapor, helping to regulate hot temperatures during summer months. This temperature regulation reduces energy consumption of nearby homes and provides safety to communities during heat waves.

Air Quality: Trees clean our air by filtering out harmful pollutants often found in urban environments.

Climate Change Resilience: Trees sequester carbon that would otherwise enter our atmosphere, helping in the fight against climate change. As our global climate continues to become hotter and drier, trees will become even more important in keeping our communities safe and habitable.

Mental Health: Planting trees in cities is especially important for our mental health. They have proven to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and help us to feel a sense of calm. Trees give us a break from a harsh concrete landscape.

Community Building: City Streets lined and shaded with beautiful trees are more enjoyable and bring more people outside because of the many reasons listed above. The more we are out enjoying our environment, the more likely we will talk with our neighbors and build a community.

A Symbol of Hope: The Ginkgo Tree

This year for Earth Day, we are giving our retail customers a free Ginkgo biloba sapling with a qualifying purchase. In this way, we are empowering our community to help us battle climate change locally.

Ginkgo Background Information

Ginkgo biloba, otherwise known as "Maidenhair Tree," is neither a broadleaf or a conifer, but has its own division in Ginkgophyta. It is the only tree in this division. It has no living relatives, and the tree’s fan-shaped leaves have been found in fossils that date back to 270 million years ago. In 1691 this living fossil was rediscovered in a small grove in China and has since made its way all over the world through human intervention.

Symbolism and Cultural Significance

In China the Ginkgo tree is a symbol of peace and a hope for a bright future. It also has a wide representation in literature and art. For instance, ancient Chinese artists often depicted the Buddha's Dragon Tree as a Ginkgo. 

In Japan Ginkgos are often found in tea gardens and have similar cultural symbolism. The tree personifies longevity, as individual specimens can live to be thousands of years old. This was further solidified in 1945 after the US bombing of Hiroshima, Japan. Scientists predicted that nothing would be able to live in the area for 75 years following the nuclear explosion, but Hiroshima's Ginkgo trees survived the bombing and made a full recovery, living on as a symbol of endurance and hope for the future. 

Ginkgos also have made many appearances in the Art Nouveau movement, which is often described as a balance between technological advancement and nature.

What a perfect tree to help us celebrate Earth Day this year! They are a living embodiment of resilience, peace, and hope for the future.

Top Reasons to Plant a Ginkgo Tree

  • Easy to Grow! Tolerant of many urban conditions such as heat, pollution, salt, and confined spaces. Trees establish and transplant easily.
  • Ornamental value! Not only are their fan-shaped leaves gorgeous, the leaves turn a beautiful golden yellow color in the fall.
  • These trees are long-lasting, with some specimens recorded to be 3,000 years old!

Ginkgo Care

Light: Full-sun to Partial shade.
Water: Prefers moist soils. Drought tolerant when established.
Cold Hardiness: USDA Zones 3 - 8
Growth: Moderate growth rate. Size dependent on cultivar.

Every year Earth Day becomes more and more important in response to our changing climate, and this year we are skipping the tree hugs and planting new trees instead. While showing appreciation to the natural landscape around us, we are looking to the future with a Ginkgo to guide the way and fill our cities with clean air and hope for a resilient tomorrow. What trees will you plant this year?

By Bee Oxford

Sources:

https://www.arborday.org/trees/treeguide/TreeDetail
https://treeboston.org/tree-equity/benefits-of-urban-trees/
https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/ginkgo
http://www.smithsonianeducation.org/educators
https://friendsoftrees.org/blog/gingko/