Show Your Valentine Love with Something That Lasts: A Tree

Photo: Jonny Hughes/Flickr Creative Commons
Photo: Jonny Hughes/Flickr Creative Commons

Photo: Jonny Hughes/Flickr Creative Commons

Valentine’s Day is upon us again. As if we could possibly forget it. We have been bombarded since New Year’s Day with advertising reminding us to buy those chocolates, roses and greeting cards for our sweetheart.
It’s wonderful to show someone special that you care about him or her. At Good Earth Plant Company, we think there are better ways to do it, at least from the perspective of an Eco-Warrior. Chocolates and flowers are fine, but they don’t last. If you want to give a gift that symbolizes everlasting love, plant a tree.

Trees contribute significantly to the health of our planet. They improve our air quality, According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one acre of forest can process as much as six tons of carbon dioxide, replacing it with four tons of oxygen. Breathe in right now, breathe out and say a thank you for trees.

Trees cool us down. The average temperature in Southern California has risen six degrees in the last 50 years as tree coverage has disappeared thanks to urbanization and the construction of more heat-absorbing roads and buildings. Similar to the positive effects of green roofs, trees can cool a city by 10 degrees, shading homes and streets and breaking up urban “heat islands.”

Just three trees strategically placed around a single-family home can reduce air conditioning by 50 percent. This reduces power consumption and power plant emissions.

Here’s a benefit you may not have considered: trees help prevent skin cancer by providing shade and reducing exposure to UV-B sunlight rays, which protect children who are most at risk for sunburn and sun damage. Playing under a tree means less chance of developing skin cancers later in life.

Trees provide many benefits in urban environments. Photo: Iowa DNR

Trees provide many benefits in urban environments. Photo: Iowa DNR

We know that hospital patients recover more quickly when they have access to nature, including trees. Neighborhoods that don’t have trees suffer from an increased crime rate both inside and outside homes. Trees and landscaping reduce fear, and provide pleasant spaces for people to gather and get to know one another.  Trees can give a neighborhood character and identity, which fosters a sense of unity and civic pride.

Well-placed trees in an urban environment can raise property values by as much as 15 percent. They can help hide concrete walls or other unpleasant views, muffle noise from streets, absorb dust and reduce glare. Studies show the more trees and landscaping a business area has, such as a shopping center, the more people will spend money there.

Many trees provide food (think about citrus fruits, avocados, olives, and maple syrup). A single apple tree can provide 20 bushels of fruit each year. Others can be used for medicinal purposes. Aspirin comes from the bark of a willow tree.

Trees aren’t a gift for a day, they are a gift for generations. Trees are among the longest-lived things on earth. A palm tree can live for 50 years. A Giant sequoia can live for 3,000 years. At least one Bristlecone pine tree is estimated to be 5,000 years old. If you want to say “Our love is eternal, it’s here to stay,” planting a tree makes it become real.

But I know many of you like sticking to the traditional. For you, it’s got to be roses. If so, consider buying living roses in a small pot. They will last a lot longer than cut roses, and properly cared for with plenty of light and fertilizer, they will bloom for many weeks.

For those of you who insist on cut roses, begin with a clean, well-scrubbed vase. Cut the stems at an angle with sharp nippers, and change the water frequently, at least daily. And take a photo – it is the only way to make your roses last forever.