Arbor Day is celebrated around the United States during the month of April, it is always celebrated on the last Friday in April, but many states observe Arbor Day on different dates throughout the year based on the best tree planting times in their area.
Arbor Day has its roots in Nebraska with J. Sterling Morton, a pioneer who planted trees in the barren land of Nebraska. As a journalist and editor of Nebraska’s first newspaper, he encouraged planting trees on the vast, barren plain.
As the secretary of the Nebraska Territory, he proposed that the new state of Nebraska set aside April 10 to plant trees, offering prizes to organizations that planted the most trees properly.
Nebraskans planted more than 1 million trees on the first Arbor Day in 1872, and have continued to plant trees every year.
The holiday has spread throughout the U.S. and the world. Currently The National Arbor Day Foundation recognizes cities for their accomplishments in tree planting, designating them as a Tree City USA.
My own little town of La Mesa, California takes pride in its La Mesa Beautiful organization that has planted trees throughout our community, enabling La Mesa to be designated a Tree City USA for many years.
If you’d like to see when your state’s Arbor Day is celebrated (based mostly on appropriate local tree planting dates) check out the map at http://www.arborday.org/arborday/arborDayDates.cfm.
The connection to quilts? Many quilt blocks have a tree, leaf, and plant theme. My theory is that with the emphasis on trees and nature during the late 1800s, quilters created block patterns to honor nature.