Spring Foliage

Jeremy Lehrer

MillionTreesNYC is an effort launched by the City and the New York Restoration Project (NYRP) in 2007 to plant, you guessed it, a million trees throughout the five boroughs by the year 2017. As of April 3, the number of trees planted stands at 173,229. Trees provide shade, generate oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide. They beautify neighborhoods and keep City blocks cooler. There are plenty of other benefits: in City neighborhoods with more trees and foliage, for instance, residents have lower rates of asthma and obesity.

To add a little extra tree hugging (and planting) to the Earth Day and Arbor Day holidays, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has declared April to be MillionTreesNYC Month, a festival of special tree-related events, seminars and trainings, presented by BNP Paribas. All month, the City is offering a special One in a Million Tree Coupon, which provides a discount on the purchase of baby trees at participating garden centers and nurseries (visit nyc.gov or milliontreesnyc.org for more information and to download the coupon). Drew Becher, NYRP’s executive director, encourages residents to plant their own saplings, contact 311 to request a tree or submit suggestions for tree-planting locations through the NYRP or MillionTreesNYC websites.

“When people plant trees, they know they’re doing something good,” says Becher. “But if they go back in 20 years to where they’ve planted the trees, it’s one of those experiences you can’t put into words. If you’ve done it before, you get it, and if you haven’t, then you’re in for a nice surprise.” Below is a summary of events devoted to the City’s long-standing companions—those present and those yet to grow.

MillionTreesNYC Calendar
To become adept at any art, it’s helpful to learn from a master. On April 9, you can do just that by attending a talk by Dr. Wangari Maathai, the Nobel Prize–winning activist who helped to plant more than 40 million trees throughout Africa, at the Great Hall at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art.

On April 14, 19 and 28, Fort Greene Park, in Brooklyn, is hosting volunteer days. Help take care of trees in the park and with other tasks, such as spreading mulch, repairing fences and gardening.

The Las Casitas Community Garden, in the the Bronx, offers a workshop in planting and taking care of fruit trees on April 16. Sara Katz and Ursula Chanse, both of the New York Botanical Garden, will teach attendees everything they need to know to keep trees happy, healthy and fruitful.

JetBlue Airways is sponsoring a tree-planting event on April 18 at Pomonok Houses in Queens. Three hundred trees will be planted, proving once again that blue and green are an ideal combination There will be children's activities and prizes given out throughout the day. Power 105.1 DJ Ed Lover will be on hand in the afternoon. Preregistration is required to participate.

On April 18 and April 19, volunteers will gather in Staten Island’s Conference House Park to plant and learn about native trees, shrubs and herbs as part of a coastal forest restoration project. Participants interested in this event should register through the Green Apple Festival, an Earth Day celebration that encompasses numerous other events throughout New York City.

If you’re interested in giving some TLC to saplings and their elders throughout the City, you can attend a “Caring for Street Trees” workshop in Manhattan on April 24 or in Queens on April 25. Attendees at the events will get free tools and a Parks volunteer permit that allows them to care for trees on City streets. To register for the workshop on the 24th, which is required in advance, send an email to channaly.philipp@parks.nyc.gov or call 212-676-1929.

For its 15th annual Hands On New York Day on April 25, the organization New York Cares has partnered with MillionTreesNYC to organize an event in which 20,000 trees will be planted at parks, schools, gardens and other locations throughout the five boroughs. Register to help with this urban festival of arborescence by visiting the New York Cares site.

Learn about tulip trees, the tallest eastern forest tree, in an expedition led by the Urban Park Rangers. The April 26 sojourn at Queens’ Alley Pond Park includes a visit to the Alley Pond Giant, a tulip tree that, with a height of 130 feet, is thought to be the tallest tree in New York City. At an estimated 400 to 450 years old, the Alley Pond Giant may be the oldest living thing in the five boroughs.