While National Arbor Day is always celebrated on the last Friday in April, many states observe it on different dates throughout the year. This year, NAS Patuxent River’s Commanding Officer Capt. John Brabazon signed the proclamation declaring Oct. 2 as Arbor Day for the installation.
Pax River’s usual tree planting ceremony normally takes place in April, Maryland’s observance month, and in conjunction with Pax being named a National Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree City USA — an award the air station has won for the past 31 consecutive years.
“But that [spring] event was another casualty of COVID-19,” said Pax River’s Conservation Director Kyle Rambo. “We still won the award, but there was no official ceremony this year, so we decided to move the tree planting to the fall instead — which is actually the best time of year to plant trees.”
In a low-key ceremony with only a few people in attendance, a Flowering Dogwood was planted at the Skeet Range where there are not many trees and the available picnic tables sit in full sun.
“The Dogwood is a native tree that doesn’t get too tall, which is perfect since it was planted in the airfield’s clear zone where height restrictions apply,” Rambo explained. “They are an attractive ornamental shade tree that grows pretty quickly with a broad crown as a canopy. We always plant native trees because they are more resilient and hardiest for our type of weather.”
Rambo recommends planting native trees for the best results, even in home landscaping.
“If you plant something exotic, it’s almost as if you have to force it to grow; you need to water it and fertilize it,” he added. “But if you plant something native, it’s used to our conditions and it thrives. And fall is the best time to plant trees, especially with our mild winters. It allows the tree to establish a root system for months before the next summer heat hits.”
For a list of Maryland native trees, visit www.dnr.maryland.gov, or stop by your local nursery and inquire.
“There are native plant nurseries, but even commercial nurseries often have a section labeled ‘native species,’” Rambo added. “It’s a thing now. People know to ask for natives.”