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Birth trees make perfect birthday and new baby gifts

Understanding the Trees for Birth Months

Trees are special and provide a plethora of benefits both environmentally and economically. But did you also know that your birth tree can determine your personality? According to some, especially the Celtic druids, the date of your birth is tied to the lunar calendar and is related to the formation of one’s personality and behavior.

Before we delve into the meaning of each tree, first a little history. Trees have always had a special place in Celtic history. Living trees have played a central role in the practical daily and spiritual lives of the Irish people for centuries. Irish myth, story and music abound with references to trees and their being the home of fairies and spirits. Travelling the Irish countryside, as I have done many times, one is sure to find hand-crafted fairy homes scattered about the forest, always bringing a huge smile to my eyes.

Trees served as landmarks and icons of family and clan identity, and their importance can be measured by the great number of tree-based place name in Ireland – of the 16,000 towns in Ireland, 13,000 are named after trees! All this demonstrates the degree to which trees were understood and valued by the culture.

Celtic Birth Trees

The Celtic druids had a profound connection with trees and believed they were vessels of infinite wisdom. They felt the entire universe existed in the form of a tree. The roots grew deep below, representing the past. The trunk sat in everyday life, representing the present. The branches reached up high into the heavens, representing the future and afterlife. They developed Celtic tree astrology based on the lunar calendar, so it has thirteen astrological signs rather than twelve. Accordingly, the Druids designated a tree to each of the thirteen moon phases in their calendar and associated each tree with a type of personality. They even determined which signs were most compatible.

Ready to Get Started With The Gifted Tree?

Take a little time and discover more about your birth tree and the personality traits associated with it and with what other birth tree(s) you are most compatible. Let us know if you agree.

January Birth Tree

The Rowan Tree: January 22 – February 18

Rowan Tree Leaves

Rowans are the philosophical minds in tree astrology. Rowans can be planted near doors and ward off evil and were thought to guard the gateway to the spirit world. Rowans are keen visionaries with high ideals. You are highly influential in a quiet way and others look to you for your unique perspectives. Their inner passion and burning creativity will get them noticed if they are patient in expressing what is inside them. Others will be impressed by their unique perspective and Rowans are highly influential.

Best match: Rowans pair well with Ivy and Hawthorne signs.

 

February Birth Tree

The Ash Tree: February 18 – March 17 

Ash Tree Leaves

Ash are free thinkers. Imaginative, intuitive, and naturally artistic, they see the world in water-color purity. Ash tend to be moody and withdrawn at times, but that’s only because their inner landscape is in constant motion. They are in touch with their muse, and are easily inspired by nature. Likewise, Ash inspire all that they associate with and people seek them out for their enchanting personality. Art, writing (especially poetry), science, and theology (spiritual matters) are areas that strongly interest Ash. Others may think they are reclusive, but in all honesty, they are simply immersed in their own world of fantastic vision and design. Ash are in a constant state of self-renewal and rarely place a value on what others think about them.

Best match: Ash pair well with Willow and Reed signs.

 

March Birth Tree

The Alder Tree: March 18 – April 14

Alder tree Leaves

Alders are pathfinders. They will blaze a path before anyone else with a burning passion. Alders are outgoing, have buckets of charm and mix well with different types of people. Not only do they get along well with everybody, others are attracted to them. Alders have faith in themselves and this makes them an attractive person to be around.  Alders really hate waste and are uncomfortable with superficial people who aren’t the real deal.

Best match: Alders pair well with Hawthorns, Oaks and Birch

 

April Birth Tree

The Willow Tree: April 15 – May 12

Willow Tree

Willows are highly creative, intuitive and intelligent. They have a keen understanding of cycles, and inherently know that every situation has a season. This gives them a realistic perspective of things, and also causes them to be more patient than most tree signs. With their intelligence comes a natural ability to retain knowledge and impress their company with the ability to expound on subjects from memory. It is Willow’s powers of perception that ultimately allow their true nature to shine, and what leads them to success in life.

Best match: Willow pair well with the Birch and the Ivy.

 

May Birth Tree

The Hawthorn Tree: May 13 – June 9

Hawthorn Tree Leaves

Hawthorns have a split personality. On the outside, they present themselves as a normal neighbor, but on the inside, they are wildly creative and passionate. They are good at adapting to changing life situations. They are good at making themselves content and making others content as well. Hawthorns are naturally curious, great listeners, funny have a good sense of both irony and silliness.

Best match: Hawthorns pair well with Ash and Rowans.

 

June Birth Tree

The Oak Tree: June 10 – July 7

Oak Tree Leaves

Oaks have a special gift of strength. They are protective people and often become a champion for those who do not have a voice. In other words, the Oak is the crusader and the spokesperson for the underdog. Nurturing, generous and helpful, they exude an easy confidence and naturally assume everything will work out to a positive outcome. They have a deep respect for history and ancestry, and a love to impart their knowledge of the past to others, and thus, many Oaks become teachers. Oaks live long, full, happy lives and enjoy large family settings and are likely to be involved with large social/community networks.

Best match: Oaks pair well with the Ash and Reed, and are known to harmoniously join with Ivy too.

 

July Birth Tree

The Holly Tree: July 8 – August 4

Holly Tree Leaves

Hollys are regal, noble and often take on positions of high status and leadership. Hollys have perseverance and never shy away from a challenge. They are hardly ever defeated simply because they keep trying until they get what they want as well as being competitive and ambitious even in the most casual settings They are very intelligent and breeze through intellectual challenges. Hollys are very kind and generous to a fault.

Best match: Hollys pair well with Ash and Elder for balance and partnership.

 

August Birth Tree

The Hazel Tree: August 5 – September 1

Hazel Tree Leaf

Hazels are highly intelligent, organized and efficient. Like the Holly, they are naturally gifted in academia, and excel in the classroom. They have the ability to retain information and can recall, recite and expound on subjects they have memorized with amazing accuracy. Sometimes they appear as a know-it-all to others, but they can’t help that; they are genuinely smart and usually know the right course of action because of an impressive knowledge base. Hollys have a gift for numbers, science and subjects that call for analytical skills. Although they like rules, they are typically making them rather than playing by them.

Best match: Hazel pair harmoniously with Hawthorns and Rowans.

 

September Birth Tree

The Vine: September 2 – September 29

Vine Leaves

Vines are born within the autumnal equinox, making their personality unpredictable, full of contradictions and often indecisive. This is due to their ability to see both sides of the story and empathize with each side equally. It is hard to pick sides because they can see the good points on each end. That being said, Vines are certain about enjoying the finer things in life such as food, wine, music, and art. Vines, while seemingly aloof and detached, are very romantic inside.

Best match: Vines pair well with Willow and Hazel.

 

October Birth Tree

The Ivy: September 30 – October 27

Ivy Leaves

The Ivy’s most cherished quality is the ability to overcome all odds. They have a sharp intellect, but more obvious is their compassion and loyalty to others. They have a giving nature and are always there to lend a helping hand. Ivys endure troubling times with silent perseverance and soulful grace. Indeed, Ivys have a tendency to be deeply spiritual and cling to a deep-rooted faith that typically sees them through adversity. They are soft spoken, but have a keen wit, are charming and charismatic

Best match: Ivys pair well with Oak and Ash.

 

November Birth Tree

The Reed: October 28 – November 24

Reed Leaves

Reeds are great at keeping secrets. They can dig deep to find the real meaning of things and discover the truth. People born under this Celtic tree sign love a good story, gossip and scandals. This makes them perfect historians, journalists, detectives, and archaeologists. They have the ability to find the core of things and strip every layer of the story. However, they tend to be a bit manipulative at times, but still have a strong sense of truth and honor.

Best match: Reeds pair well with other Reeds, Ash or Oak.

 

December Birth Tree

The Elder Tree: November 25 – December 23

Elder Tree Leaves

The Elder is a wild child, loving freedom. Elders are thrill seekers for the majority of their lives. They are also outspoken and refuse to be pressured by others into anything. They need constant mental and physical challenges. Furthermore, Elders are very thoughtful and considerate of others and genuinely strive to be helpful.

Best fit: Elders pair well with Alder and Holly.

 

New Year Holiday Birth Tree

The Birch Tree: December 24 – January 21

Birch Tree Leaves

Birch are high energy, highly driven, and often motivate others. They become easily caught in their zeal, drive and ambition. They are always reaching for more, seeking better horizons and obtaining higher aspirations. Birch (just like the tree) are tolerant, tough, and resilient. They are cool-headed and are natural-born leaders, often taking command when a situation calls for leadership. They also bring beauty in otherwise barren spaces, brightening up a room with their  guile, and charming crowds with a quick wit.   

Best fit: Birch pair well with Vine and Willow.

Now that you know about one’s Birth Tree and their associated personality traits (with help from What’s Your Sign), what better way to celebrate someone’s birthday or the birth of a new born than by planting a tree as a birthday present in celebration. Not only does The Gifted Tree make it easy, but our unique tributes announce the planting to the honoree in a way fit for a regal celebration and worthy of a majestic birth tree. Check it out.

Newly cut down forest at a deforestation area with trunks and branches lying on the ground, in spring sunlight and blue sky

Forest fires and its resulting deforestation from tree loss are continually in the news. We read about the fires in Australia, the Amazon Rainforest and here in the United States. Unfortunately, as June is rolling into July, look for another busy wildfire season in the West. A relatively dry fall and winter coupled with mountain snowpacks that melted faster than normal, and overall warmer and drier-than-average conditions forecast this summer will keep firefighters busy.

Fact: In 2015, global forest cover fell below ten billion acres for the first time in human history.

Major deforestation is not only caused by forest fires, however. What is deforestation, technically? Deforestation is the permanent removal of trees to make room for something besides forest. This can include clearing the land for agriculture or grazing, or using the timber for fuel, construction or manufacturing.

Fact: Every year, more than 20 million football fields’ worth of forests (15 billion trees!) continue to be cut down.Stacks of trees cut down as the result of deforestation

Forests cover more than 30% of the Earth’s land surface, according to the World Wildlife Fund. These forested areas can provide food, medicine and fuel for more than a billion people. Worldwide, forests provide 13.4 million people with jobs in the forest sector, and another 41 million people have jobs related to forests. Forests are a resource, but they are also large, undeveloped swaths of land that can be converted for purposes such as agriculture and grazing. In North America, about half the forests in the eastern part of the continent were cut down for timber and farming between the 1600s and late 1800s, according to National Geographic.

Fact: At the current rate of deforestation, Earth’s rainforests, including the Amazon, could be completely gone in 100 years.

That’s bad news for everyone, especially for the 1/2 of the world’s terrestrial flora and fauna and 3/4 of all birds that live in and around forests. Additionally, 70% of land animals and plant species live in forests. The trees of the rainforest that provide shelter for some species also provide the canopy that regulates the temperature. Destruction of these forests along with its resulting change in temperature has a devastating effect on the forests’ inhabitants.

Deforestation in tropical regions can also affect the way water vapor is produced over the canopy, which causes reduced rainfall. A 2019 study published in the journal Ecohydrology showed that parts of the Amazon rainforest that were converted to agricultural land had higher soil and air temperatures, which can exacerbate drought conditions. In comparison, forested land had rates of evapotranspiration that were about three times higher, adding more water vapor to the air.

Fact: industrial agriculture accounts for around 73% of deforestation worldwide. The majority of this can be attributed to meat (particularly beef cattle), soy, and palm oil.

Meat producers clear vast swaths of forest to graze their livestock and in turn, the production of livestock feed accounts for 80% of the soybeans grown—and you may be surprised to learn that poultry and pigs eat up almost as much of that soy as cattle does.

Many forests are also cleared to make way for palm oil plantations. Palm oil is the most commonly produced vegetable oil and is found in half of all supermarket products. It’s cheap, versatile and can be added to both food and personal products like lipsticks and shampoo. Its popularity has spurred people to clear tropical forests to grow more palm trees. Deforestation to make way for a Palm Oil PlantationGrowing the trees that produce the oil requires the leveling of native forest and the destruction of local peatlands, increasing harmful effects on the ecosystem.

Fact: One mature tree can consume 48 pounds of carbon a year!

Forests play a critical role in mitigating climate change because they act as a carbon sink—soaking up carbon dioxide that would otherwise be free in the atmosphere. Trees also absorb carbon dioxide, mitigating greenhouse gas emissions produced by human activity. As climate change continues, trees play an important role in carbon sequestration, or the capture and storage of excess carbon dioxide. Tropical trees alone are estimated to provide about 23% of the climate mitigation that’s needed to offset climate change, according to the World Resources Institute, a nonprofit global research institute.

But once trees are chopped down, all that absorbed carbon gets released right back into the atmosphere.  Deforestation, therefore, not only removes vegetation that is important for removing carbon dioxide from the air, but the act of clearing the forests also produces greenhouse gas emissions. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations says that deforestation is the second-leading cause of climate change. (The first is the burning of fossil fuels.) In fact, deforestation accounts for nearly 20% of greenhouse gas emissions. Stopping deforestation, then, is absolutely critical if we want to avoid catastrophic climate change.

Solution: Develop alternatives to deforestation, such as sustainable farming, to decrease the need for tree clearing.Earth design with words There Is No Planet "B"

As large amounts of forests are cleared away, allowing exposed earth to whither and die and the habitats of innumerable species to be destroyed, the indigenous communities who live there and depend on the forest to sustain their way of life are also under threat.

The loss of forests has an immediate and direct effect on their lifestyle that we in the highly industrialized parts of the world, despite our own dependency on what the rainforest provides, will never know. The level of immediacy is exponentially greater for indigenous peoples.

If communities in developing nations were able to adopt sustainable farming practices or employed new farming technologies and crops, the need for more land might be diminished, according to the UN’s Sustainable Forest Management Toolbox.  Indigenous people and local forest communities are on the front line of the battle for the forests they call home. When you plant your trees through The Gifted Tree in Africa and Asia, the project not only is replacing trees, but is educating community members, especially the youth, as to the long-term benefits of trees. Areas of education include farmers being trained in best tree planting methods, nursery preparation, farm conservation and finance, and irrigation management. They also learned methods and techniques to protect trees to withstand local climatic conditions and thus help to ensure the newly planted trees’ long-term survival. Most of these individuals have no knowledge of proper land management techniques, but this training will be a significant factor in the fight against deforestation.

Solution: Plant More trees.Replanting trees in deforested areas

Forests can also be restored, through replanting trees in cleared areas or simply allowing the forest ecosystem to regenerate over time. The goal of restoration is to return the forest to its original state, before it was cleared, according to the U.S. Forest Service. The sooner a cleared area is reforested, the quicker the ecosystem can start to repair itself. Afterward, wildlife will return, water systems will reestablish, carbon will be sequestered and soils will be replenished. Remember, trees help control the level of water in the atmosphere by helping to regulate the water cycle. In deforested areas, there is less water in the air to be returned to the soil. This then causes dryer soil and the inability to grow crops.

If done correctly, reforestation can restore damaged ecosystems, stabilize soil and soil erosion, support the water cycle, reduce coastal flooding and slowly recover the vital ecosystem services that depend on. Trees also help the land to retain water and topsoil, which provides the rich nutrients to sustain additional forest life. Planting new trees is, ultimately, an investment in future forests and is the calling and mission of The Gifted Tree!

 

 

Colorful field of wild flowers

With the COVID-19 pandemic dominating the news and our lives, and with stress levels soaring because of it, I thought I would discuss a topic of a lighter note: Wildflower and Tree Seed Bombs. While it might suggest a topic of a less serious note, some of the words associated with the subject have some severe associations. Just the word “bomb” does not bring to mind something the family can make and do together. On the contrary, making these seed bombs is also a fun family project while we are subject to stay-at-home laws.

And the hobby of “guerrilla gardening” also does not conjure up an image of a fun way to spend a weekend day. Though it sounds radical, guerrilla gardening is not an overtly political or polarizing endeavor. Its objective is simple: transform unused land into gardens. People all over the globe are drawn to this humble mission and are taking up arms in the form of shovels, compost, plants, bulbs, and seed bombs in an attempt to bring their communities back to life.Urban guerrilla gardening site with new plants and trees

One might think that wildflower and tree seed bombing is a newfangled hipster way to plant seed and help the environment, but not so. Even though one can throw the seed bombs out of a moving car, from a bicycle, or on a hike, seed bombing is an ancient practice that goes back to the feudal days of Japan. While on the surface it seems like a simple concept, like most things in life, to get the most good out of it, one needs to put a little thought into it. Furthermore, believe it or not, seed bombing can be illegal, so here are some tips from a New York Times article and from a few other DIY gardening articles.

Recipe

While there are a number of seed bomb recipes one can use, make sure you use one that can lead to the greatest rate of seed germination and ultimate success. Just like any good recipe in the kitchen, for this garden recipe you will need a mixing bowl and baking sheets. Summarizing a recipe from Daniel Cunningham, a horticulturalist at Texas A&M, add one-part native wildflower seed mix to four parts powdered clay and five parts fine-gained compost. Mix the dry ingredients thoroughly and stir in water slowly until you have a thick bread-dough consistency.

Gather a small pinch of this seed-infused mud mixture and roll it into marble-sized balls. A cup of seeds can yield dozens of the seed bomb balls. Set the balls on a cookie sheet and let them dry in the sun. These clay balls protect the seed from the heat of the sun. They’re heavy enough to be unaffected by the wind or heavy rains and the hard clay casing deters animal nibblers as well. Person holding a seed bomb ball in their fingersIn dry areas, the shape of the ball actually gives enough shade to conserve moisture. The seeds begin to germinate, and the ball breaks apart. The small pile of crumbles provides the start for the root system but is still heavy enough to anchor the emerging seeds to the ground.

Types of seeds to use and when to plant

Make sure the seeds you are using are native to your area, whether they be wildflower or tree seeds. The last thing you want to do is introduce invasive species to your area. I have spent countless hours in the local National Park and surrounding areas removing invasive species that are wrecking havoc on old established forest growth.

Fall to early spring is the best time to make and throw seed bombs. Seed bombs need water and moderate temperatures to succeed. The seeds of many northern species need to experience a winter cold period before the seeds will germinate. Sowing the seeds during the cold and wet time of year will give these seeds the best chance to work their way into a soil niche and provide the cold stratification they need for germination. By mid-May, the landscape begins to warm, and the soil dries out. This makes late spring a riskier environment for seed germination if you cannot provide supplemental water.Tree Seed Bomb

Leaving a Positive Impact

Now that your seed bombs are ready to go and the time of year for planting is right, now what. Believe it or not, you just can’t throw your seed bombs wherever you want. It can actually be illegal to do so. We don’t want you to end up in jail! Don’t throw your seed bombs on farm land, you don’t want to interfere with agricultural production. If in an urban area, while most people won’t call the police on you for trying to liven up a blighted area, it is best to get permission first so you won’t be accused of vandalism or trespassing. Seed bombs are a delightful idea and, if done with the planning previously discussed, I really can’t see why anyone would reasonably object.

Using native plant seed balls is a great way to reseed the landscape and to reclaim bare patches of land. In Texas, some of the highest concentrations of wildflowers can be found along highways thanks in part to the work of former first lady, Lady Bird Johnson, over 50 years ago. And there have even been proposals in recent years to adopt the idea on an industrial scale to repopulate vast areas with trees. Reforesting devastated, blighted areas that are lacking vegetation is what The Gifted Tree advocates, by planting memorial and celebration trees in 30 plus countries worldwide. As Lady Bird Johnson once said: “ugliness is so grim.”Beautiful purple wildflowers along Texas highways

Funeral flowers have always been the traditional bereavement gift to send when someone loses a cherished loved one. Sometimes, however, flowers are not appropriate or practical to send. As I write this during the COVID-19 pandemic, many flower shops are shut down and funeral services are extremely small if they are able to take place at all. However, now is an important time to send loved ones we’re separated from a memorable experience. Our deepest condolences go out to those affected by this crisis.

Gift trees planted in memory of a person or pet are a perfect remembrance gift and serve as an ideal alternative to sending flowers. Trees are still being planted in areas around the world where it is safe to do so or will start up again as soon as the conditions are right. The Gifted Tree plants in 30 plus countries around the world on six continents, and all of these areas are in desperate need of reforestation.

I have come up with five reasons why gift trees make unique flower alternatives which I will discuss more in depth below. I am sure there are more, but let us just focus on the five below:

Gift Trees Make a Powerful and Everlasting Tribute

Fresh flowers are beautiful and smell wonderful, but the fact of the matter is that they do only last a short period of time. Those sent from a florist are the freshest and best but will not survive much longer than a week. Furthermore, I have been at wakes and funeral services where the grieving family is inundated with flower arrangements. They have no way to transport them from the funeral home back home, nor do they have the space is their home to set them all out. Numerous times, because I am usually the last to leave, I am handed an arrangement to take simply because there is no other alternative except to throw them out.Dead Flower Arrangement

A gift tree on the other hand can last for 100 years or more and grow from a sapling to a majestic living monument.

Gift Trees have a Lower Price Point

This is not meant to be disrespectful to the floral industry as I realize there are a lot of factors that go into the price of a flower arrangement from transportation, to labor, to waste. However, it is hard to place an order for an arrangement that is less than $100, especially if one has to add in the cost of delivery. And this is not for a giant arrangement. Furthermore, if one wants to send a funeral wreath or casket spray, the cost can run much much higher. Again, all beautiful, but not necessarily within everyone’s budget.

Gift trees can create a memorable experience and at a much lower price point. Plantings with a unique certificate sent to the family start at $12.95 at The Gifted Tree, and on average run between $29 – $34.

Gift Trees are Good for the Environment

While the flower industry is certainly making inroads on the environmental front, the fact is that a lot of flowers currently are not grown locally but grown overseas. Shipping them stateside has a huge carbon footprint impact. Pesticides is another issue as the flower industry is one of the largest users of pesticides in the world. Pesticides can have both an adverse effect on workers, as they rarely have training on the safe use and handling of the chemicals, plus, the runoff of the pesticides into nearby lakes and streams pose a threat to water systems. Finally, there is the issue of waste to consider, and I am not just talking about stems that are discarded or dead flowers that are pitched. Think about the non-biodegradable foam that is used to hold the arrangements in place and the protective plastic wrap that is used.

Gift trees not only show the recipient that you care but are a gift to the world too. Simply, the environmental benefits of trees are enormous, including helping the air that we breath and the water that we drink.

Gift Trees are Practical Even Months After the Funeral

It is sad to say, but in this day and age with friends and acquaintances spread out over the globe, sometimes I do not hear of a death until weeks after the fact. I catch wind of it on social media or I finally get a phone call with the news. The funeral service has long since passed and visitation is no longer. At this point, it would not be appropriate to send flowers to the residence of the family of the deceased.

Planting a gift tree accompanied by our beautiful presentation certificates makes sense and is always appreciated even months after the service. It even makes sense to plant a tree in memory a year later, marking the year anniversary of the death. So, if you are late to the process, there is no reason to fret as the planting of a gift tree will still be appropriate and appreciated.

Gift Trees Show You Care during the Difficult Time of Bereavement

Sure, sending flowers can help during this tough time, but planting a memorial gift tree has all the above added benefits which make it the perfect alternative to flowers. As one recipient of our gift tree packaged noted: “The tree planting certificate presentation is much more than a card, it is a whole experience that provided me comfort at a time of grieving.”

Remember, speaking of creating a memorable experience, sending gift trees for happy occasions is always a perfect alternative also. If you have any doubts, check this out for the right time to send a gift tree.

From all of us at The Gifted Tree, please stay safe and healthy!

Brilliantly colored Cherry Blossom trees with Mt. Fuji in the background

Leap year graphic of person jumping over a canyon

As we all know, this Saturday, February 29, 2020, is a Leap Day . Leap year is a calendar year that contains an additional day added to keep the calendar year synchronized with the astronomical year or seasonal year. Leap years are necessary because the actual length of a year is 365.242 days, not 365 days, as we are taught early on. Because astronomical events and seasons do not repeat in a whole number of days, calendars that have the same number of days in each year drift over time with respect to the event that the year is supposed to track. By inserting an additional day, the drift can be corrected.

The Leap Year Tree – a New Tradition

There are several traditions around the world associated with Leap Year, but none in the United States as far as we know. While we know every day is a great day to plant trees, The Gifted Tree proposes that leap day, February 29th, become an extra special day to plant trees. If you follow our logic, which I will explain in a moment, the world’s deforestation issue will certainly be helped.

Leap Year History

First of all, some history – The Julian calendar was introduced by Julius Caesar in 45 BCE and replaced the Roman calendar. Julius Caesar’s goal was to simplify things and he was behind the origin of leap year. However, in 1582, Pope Gregory XIII further refined the calendar (the Gregorian calendar) with the rule that leap day would occur in any year divisible by four. This is the calendar that we in the United States use today.Tree frog on tree branch

Leap Year – Historical Traditions

Regarding historical leap year traditions, February 29 is a big day in Ireland and is known as Bachelor’s Day, the day where women are encouraged to initiate dances and propose marriage. According to an old Irish legend, St. Brigid struck a deal with St. Patrick to allow women to propose to men – and not just the other way around – every four years. This is believed to have been introduced to balance the traditional roles of men and women in a similar way to how leap day balances the calendar.

In Scotland, it used to be considered unlucky for someone to be born on leap day, just as Friday 13th is considered an unlucky day by many. Greeks consider it unlucky for couples to marry during a leap year, and especially on Leap Day. Leap day is also St. Oswald’s Day, named after the archbishop of York, who died on February 29, 992. And in many European countries, especially in the upper classes of society, tradition dictates that any man who refuses a woman’s proposal on February 29 must buy her 12 pairs of gloves. The intention is that the woman can wear the gloves to hide the embarrassment of not having an engagement ring. During the middle ages there were laws governing this tradition!

The Leap Tree Frog

None of those traditions seems to have carried over to this country, but as stated above, The Gifted Tree proposes that Leap Day be an extra special day to plant trees. Follow our “logic” and I think you will agree. Leap Year and Leap Day are, for logical reasons, associated with frogs. And Tree Frogs are very popular. And what do Tree Frogs like? Trees of course. Thus, we need to plant more trees so that the habitat of the tree frog is perpetuated and we will always have tree frogs to dazzle us.Tree frog on tree

“Logic” Wins Out

But just as important to helping tree frogs, if we plant a tree on Leap Day, February 29th, in a hundred years when trees when trees not planted on leap day will be reaching their life span, our Leap Year trees will only be 25 and in the prime of their existence!. The trees we plant on February 29th will last four times as long and will help solve the earth’s deforestation problem. A simple solution with far-reaching benefits: Helping the habitat of our tree frog friends and increasing the globe’s tree canopy.

Do Your Part

So, this Saturday, February 29th, as the sun starts to rise,  help start our new tradition of planting Leap Trees, be it in celebration or in memory, and give the world an extra-lasting gift too!

Leap year sunrise

Mother and Daughter embracing

At The Gifted Tree we speak to many customers every day. Most are calling to plant a memorial tree for a family member, friend or someone they did not even know but are related to someone they know. They are genuinely touched to be able to connect with someone special to them and know that it helps the recipient in a time of grieving. Before ending the call with the customer, I always mention to think of The Gifted Tree during happier times, such as a wedding or birthday. This surprises them and the most common response is “Oh, I never thought about that as an occasion to plant a tree.” The fact is a gift tree in honor or celebration fits any occasion and boy does this world need to plant more trees!

The World Needs More Trees Planted

The news is full of stories about the growing deforestation issue in this country and around the world. The Australian bushfires are currently a daily news item and before that is was the fires in the Amazon rain forest. Fires are not the only destructive element existing. Disease is another major issue. Just this past week, my newspaper in Cleveland, Ohio had a headline talking about the shrinking tree canopy (https://bit.ly/2GyQwHK ). In the last decade, 5,000 football fields worth of trees are gone, and that is in only one county. The emerald ash bore is a major culprit (I lost 10 ash trees in my back yard in the last year to this disease), but so are more violent storms caused by climate change. Clear-cutting for suburban residential and industrial projects is another big factor. And this problem is not going away. Millions and millions of trees will need to be planted, and The Gifted Tree is here to help.

A Gift Tree Fits Any Occasion – Even Happy Ones!

When a colleague loses a parent or a friend’s dog dies, planting a memorial tree is an ideal way to express sympathy. But as mentioned above, gifting a tree fits every occasion. A birthday tree makes sense, especially for an older person who probably doesn’t need another “thing.” A wedding is another occasion where a gift tree will resonate with the couple as they look to establish their roots. Miss the wedding gift opportunity, don’t fret, a first or fifth anniversary gives you another opportunity. The first anniversary is the paper anniversary (paper comes from trees, get it?). And something I just learned; wood is the traditional gift for the fifth anniversary, so a tree fits perfectly.

Other situations also call for the planting of a gift tree. Acknowledging a teacher or coach who has gone above and beyond as well as honoring the birth of a baby who will grow as the gift tree blossoms and grows. Celebrating landing a dream job, getting a promotion or moving into a new home, all gift tree giving opportunities.

Don’t forget about planting a gift tree for a retirement or graduation. Or just a general “thinking of you” tree where you can let the recipient know that our lives are happier, richer, and more beautiful because of you, and with the planting of this tree in their honor, now our world will be too.

How To Write a Sympathy Letter Heart Tree

Gift Trees To Celebrate a Holiday? Yes!

But another reason I bring this up is that holidays are a perfect opportunity to give a gift tree. With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, surprise a sweetheart with the planting of a gift tree. He or she will be more than touched by the gesture. They will realize that this is a gift to the world too!

Gift Trees – A Gift To The World Too

As you can see, there are many ways to celebrate or honor someone with the planting of a gift tree.  And at The Gifted Tree, you can let your writing talents shine through too as each certificate has space for a custom, personalized message. But don’t stress if you struggle to find the right words.  We all do from time to time, and The Gifted Tree can take a little weight off your shoulders by offering a range of heartfelt message options for you to include on your gift tree certificate. You can write your own message or use one of our suggestions. Either way, we’ll make sure your voice and your sentiments shine through. When all is said and done, not only does planting a gift tree fit every occasion, but you are giving the world a gift too!

Christmas Tree Farm

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree …

We all know the song, but do we know that there are 25 – 30 million real Christmas trees sold in the United States every year. And currently there are an additional 350 million trees growing on Christmas tree farms in this country on approximately 350,000 acres of green land. We will get back to some more fun facts in a moment, but where did this industry get its start? An industry that supports 15,000 Christmas tree farms and employs over 100,000 full and part-time people. (Full disclosure: you can not plant a gift tree on a Christmas tree farm with The Gifted Tree, but we do plant in 30+ countries.)

The History of the Christmas Tree

The history of the Christmas Tree stretches back over 2,000 years, and according to historian Deemer Cass of the London-based Fantastic Gardeners, Christians weren’t the first to admire and decorate Christmas trees. Pagans used to worship evergreen trees as a symbol of fertility.  Plants and trees that remained green all year had a special meaning for people in the winter. Just as people today decorate their homes during the festive season with pine, spruce, and fir trees, ancient peoples hung evergreen boughs over their doors and windows. In many countries it was believed that evergreens would keep away witches, ghosts, evil spirits, and illness.

According to History.com, Germany is credited with starting the Christmas tree tradition, as we now know it, in the 16th century when devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. Some built Christmas pyramids of wood and decorated them with evergreens and candles if wood was scarce. It is a widely held belief that Martin Luther, the 16th-century Protestant reformer, first added lighted candles to a tree. Walking toward his home one winter evening, composing a sermon, he was awed by the brilliance of stars twinkling amidst evergreens. To recapture the scene for his family, he erected a tree in the main room and wired its branches with lighted candles.

How did the tradition come to America?

Christmas Tree on a Boat

Most 19th-century Americans found Christmas trees an oddity. The first record of one being on display was in the 1830s by the German settlers of Pennsylvania, although trees had been a tradition in many German homes much earlier. The Pennsylvania German settlements had community trees as early as 1747. But, as late as the 1840s Christmas trees were seen as pagan symbols and not accepted by most Americans.

In 1846, History.com reports that the popular royals, Queen Victoria and her German Prince, Albert, were sketched in the Illustrated London News standing with their children around a Christmas tree. Unlike the previous royal family, Victoria was very popular with her subjects, and what was done at court immediately became fashionable—not only in Britain, but with fashion-conscious East Coast American Society.

The Christmas tree had arrived.

By the 1890s Christmas ornaments were arriving from Germany and Christmas tree popularity was on the rise around the U.S. It was noted that Europeans used small trees about four feet in height, while Americans liked their Christmas trees to reach from floor to ceiling.

The early 20th century saw Americans decorating their trees mainly with homemade ornaments, while the German-American sect continued to use apples, nuts, and marzipan cookies. Popcorn joined in after being dyed bright colors and interlaced with berries and nuts. Electricity brought about Christmas lights, making it possible for Christmas trees to glow for days on end. With this, Christmas trees began to appear in town squares across the country and having a Christmas tree in the home became an American tradition.

Christmas tree fun facts

Christmas Tree Farm in Winter with SnowChristmas trees have been sold commercially in the United States since about 1850.

It can take as many as 15 years to grow a tree of typical height (6 – 7 feet) or as little as 4 years, but the average growing time is 7 years.

Christmas trees are grown in all 50 states including Hawaii and Alaska. The top Christmas Tree producing states are Oregon, North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Washington.

The tallest living Christmas tree is believed to be the 122-foot, 91-year-old Douglas fir in the town of Woodinville, Washington.

The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree tradition began in 1931 but had humble beginnings. According to The New York Times, the tradition started during the Great Depression when construction workers put up a mere 20-foot tree in the plaza and decorated it with paper garlands, strings of cranberries, and tin cans. Today, a Norway spruce no taller than 100 feet is chosen every year, is laden with over 25,000 Christmas lights and topped with a Swarovski crystal star that weighs more than 9,000 pounds.

Franklin Pierce, the 14th president, brought the Christmas tree tradition to the White House. While in 1923, President Calvin Coolidge started the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony now held every year on the White House lawn.

Since 1966, the National Christmas Tree Association has given a Christmas tree to the President and first family.

77 million Christmas trees are planted each year, and on average, over 2,000 Christmas trees are planted per acre.

Other types of trees such as cherry and hawthorns were used as Christmas trees in the past.

Thomas Edison’s assistants came up with the idea of electric lights for Christmas trees instead of traditional candles. It stood in Edison’s power plant in Manhattan, set on a rotating box so that passersby could see all 80 blinking red, white, and blue lights. In 1882, no one had seen anything like it.Christmas Tree Lights

In 1963, the National Christmas Tree was not lit until December 22nd because of a national 30-day period of mourning following the assassination of President Kennedy. In 1979, the National Christmas Tree was not lighted except for the top ornament. This was done in honor of the American hostages in Iran.

Teddy Roosevelt banned the Christmas tree from the White House for environmental reasons. Realize that Christmas trees are a home to a lot of insects and microorganisms, so when you bring one home, make sure you shake it thoroughly before bringing it inside.

In the first week, a tree in your home will consume as much as a quart of water per day.

Christmas trees were once hung upside down like chandeliers, and that custom is still common in parts of Europe.

In 1984, the National Christmas Tree was lit on December 13th with temperatures in the 70s, making it one of the warmest tree lightings in history.

The best-selling trees are Scotch Pine, Douglas Fir, Fraser Fir, Balsam Fir and White Pine, although the Nordmann Fir is considered the leader among Christmas trees. The Nordmann Fir has been a popular Christmas tree choice in Europe for a number of years and is gaining momentum in the United States. It’s preferred among other evergreens due to its excellent needle retention, the softness of the needles and how it’s perfect for people with allergies. The tree’s lack of the usual Christmas tree aroma makes it ideal for those who can’t tolerate the fragrance, according to HolidayTreeFarm.com.

Real vs. artificial Christmas trees.

If you prefer an artificial tree, you’re not alone. This option is cheaper and lower maintenance. Artificial trees date back to the 1880s, when Germans looking to offset deforestation made the first ones from dyed goose feathers held together with wire. Since then, people around the world have made fake trees out of aluminum, cardboard, and glass, although most artificial Christmas trees sold today are made from PVC plastic with about 80% made in China.

Unfortunately, most fake trees contain non-biodegradable plastics and possible metal toxins such as lead. Real Trees are a renewable, recyclable resource and are grown for the purpose of being a Christmas tree. “You’re not doing any harm by cutting down a Christmas tree,” Clint Springer, a botanist and professor of biology at Philadelphia’s Saint Joseph’s University, told The New York Times in a recent interview. “A lot of people think artificial is better because you’re preserving the life of a tree. But in this case, you’ve got a crop that’s being raised for that purpose.”

There are also more than 4,000 local Christmas Tree recycling programs throughout the United States. And the trees have been used to make sand and soil erosion barriers and placed in ponds to provide shelter for fish. Just don’t burn them in your fireplace as the soot can be bad for your chimney.

Christmas Tree in a Car

Whichever type of tree you choose, just be safe. Christmas trees have, on average, started 160 house fires per year. We want everyone to relax, enjoy and spend some good quality time with the family this holiday season. Happy Holidays from The Gifted Tree!

 

Newly cut down forest at a deforestation area with trunks and branches lying on the ground, in spring sunlight and blue sky

Half the World’s Trees Gone

The destruction of many of the world’s forests is occurring and occurring swiftly. Whether the deforestation going on globally is causing climate change and global warming is sometimes debated, but it is pretty much universally agreed that one simple deforestation solution is to plant more trees. It is a cost-effective way to help and The Gifted Tree is doing its best to aid in the cause. More on that in a bit, but another way to help is to stop deforestation by not cutting down as many trees in the first place.

Every year, an estimated 15 billion trees are chopped down across the planet to make room for agricultural and urban lands and other uses. We’ve cut down so many, in fact, that what’s left is about half of the number of trees that the Earth supported before the rise of human civilization, and scientists warn that it’s not helping our climate.

Causes of Climate Change and Global Warming?

Global deforestation is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. When trees are cut down, says Stanford University professor Rob Jackson, who chairs the Earth System Science Department and Global Carbon Project, it can release years of a forests’ stored carbon back into the atmosphere. “Forests provide many benefits beyond storing carbon,” Jackson continues. “They store and recycle our water, they prevent erosion, they harbor biodiversity. There’s a legion of reasons to protect forests, especially in the tropics. When we plant forests, we gain some of those benefits, but it takes a long time to grow a healthy forest.” Rebuilding woodland is a slow and often difficult task which requires patience. It can take several decades or longer for forests to regrow as viable habitats, and to absorb the same amount of carbon lost when trees are cut and burned.

Where to Plant is Vital

Global heat map indicating the best places to plant trees on earth

Global heat map indicating the best places to plant trees on earth

What we are learning is that not every spec of earth is suitable for planting trees. Some land does need to be used for crops and pastures, but there is much outlaying and marginal land that can best be served by planting trees on it. Thus, it is vitally important to understand where it is best to plant trees. Using high-tech satellite photography, scientist can determine the natural level of tree cover across a range of ecosystems. A recently released study by a Swiss company in the journal Science estimates there are approximately 2.2 billion acres of land worldwide suitable for reforestation, which could ultimately capture two thirds of human-made carbon emissions. The global tree restoration potential report found that there is enough suitable land to increase the world’s forest cover by one-third without affecting existing cities or agriculture. It turns out that more than half the potential to restore trees can be found in just six countries: Russia, USA, Canada, Australia, Brazil, and China. These countries have so much potential because they’ve already removed much of their existing forests, said lead author of the study, Jean-Francois Bastin.

Monitoring Tree Planting is Essential

Successful tree reforestation needs to be done in the right manner. As The Gifted Tree works with tree planting partners around the world, we are learning that programs that work long-term take into account native plant species. There also needs to be a sustained commitment to monitoring forests, not just one-off tree planting events. The upside is this monitoring and educating economically benefits the local population by creating jobs and reduces erosion that damages homes and crops.

When done right, the impact is tremendous. The Swiss study concluded that if all available 2.2 billion acres of new trees were to be planted, around 500 billion saplings, once they reach maturity could absorb 220 gigatons of carbon, the equivalent to about two thirds of man-made carbon emissions since the start of the Industrial revolution. While some of these facts have been challenged as an easy solution to the climate change issue, it is pretty much agreed that the planting of trees matters.

Success Stories From Your Gift Trees

This is why The Gifted Tree is working with dedicated tree partners to not only plant trees, but to monitor their growth to help ensure long-term sustainability. To provide a few examples, take the planting project in Peru where a lot of the forest has been lost to illegal mining. Not only are old growth trees being cut and burned, but miners use diesel pumps to suck up deep layers of the earth, then push the soil through filters to extract gold particles. To turn the particles into nuggets, mercury is stirred in helping bind the particles but also poisoning the land, turning it into desert-like land – dry, sandy, stripped of topsoil and ringed by trunks of dead tree. Our partners are planting saplings of various species native to this part of the Peruvian Amazon, thus when you plant a gift tree in Peru, it is helping bring back the Amazon forest to its original grandeur.

In another project closer to home, focus is on former mining sites in the Appalachian forests of West Virginia and trying to reverse bad planting techniques employed by mining companies in the 1980s. Back then the companies used heavy machinery to push upturned soil back into place. The result was soil so compacted that rainwater would just wash off and not get into the tree roots. The planted species had shallow roots or were non-native trees that could endure but wouldn’t reach their full height or restore the forest to what it had been. Now we understand better what is needed, and your gift trees are native Appalachian trees that can prosper and bring back these forests to what they once were.

Deforestation Solutions: Not an Either-Or Choice

These and other planting projects undertaken by The Gifted Tree planting partners are helping with forest reforestation around the world which we think is one of the best climate change solutions available today. That does not alter the vital importance of protecting existing forests by limiting deforestation since new forests can take decades to mature. Slowing down or putting a halt to deforestation or planting new forests – it’s not an either-or choice. We can do both