Celebrate Arbor Week: May 28th – June 6th, 2021

Photo credit: Jackie Bantle. Dwarf sour cherry (left) and flowering crab (right) blooming in spring in Patterson Arboretum.

by Jackie Bantle
Saskatchewan Perennial Society

Trees are one of those things in life that many people take for granted.  Not only do trees improve soil and water conservation, but their ability to moderate local climate by providing shade as well as providing a home for wildlife improves the health and wellness of animals and human beings. 

Thanks to the Yellowhead Flyway Birding Trail Association, which is an affiliate of Nature Saskatchewan, the Government of Saskatchewan officially proclaimed an Arbor Day and Arbor Week in Saskatchewan for the first time in 2020.  This year, Arbor week is being held from May 28th to June 6th, 2021.  I encourage you to take some time during Arbor week to appreciate the trees surrounding us that we so often take for granted. 

The University of Saskatchewan’s Patterson Arboretum, located on the southeast corner of Preston Avenue and College Drive, is a botanical collection of over 800 different trees and shrubs.  Each tree and shrub is labelled with the botanical name, common name and year it was planted.  There are some specimens in this collection that are not found anywhere else in western Canada and species that are 50+ years old in this location.  Arbor week will be an excellent time to visit the arboretum to enjoy some beautiful spring blossoms. 

Another place to enjoy a wide variety of trees and landscapes is the main campus of the University of Saskatchewan and Innovation Place.  Wandering around either of these outdoors spaces showcases a plethora of unique, mature trees and shrubs.  My favorite garden areas at Innovation Place include Garden Park near the former Boffins Public House restaurant for its picturesque pond and espaliered pear tree as well as the walking path along the northern edge of Innovation Place that highlights tree species from Saskatchewan’s northern forest.

Of course, the Forestry farm and Park is an excellent place to appreciate Prairie trees and plants.  Bernadette Vangool has prepared a walking tour for the Saskatoon Forestry Farm and Park for Jane’s Walk 2021.  This walk takes approximately 1.5 hours, starts at the parking lot of Cathedral of the Holy Family and winds its way through the Forestry Farm.  An excellent pamphlet outlining the walk as well as the history of the Forestry Farm Park and Zoo can be downloaded at: https://janeswalksaskatoon.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/walkinthepark.pdf

Two afforestation areas, located on the southwest edge of the city of Saskatoon, were planted in 1972 by a crew from the City of Saskatoon Parks Department.  The Richard Ste. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area and George Genereux Urban Regional Park contain areas of grassland, wetlands and mixed forest.  Trails are found in these areas for walking, biking and wildlife site-seeing. 

The grand American elms that line many streets in the mature areas of Saskatoon should not be overlooked.  One of the best places to experience the American elm ‘forest’ in Saskatoon is Woodlawn Cemetery, located just northwest of the corner of 33rd street and 2nd avenue.  The elms in this cemetery are over one hundred years old in some areas.  Spruce and other stately trees also shade the narrow lanes of this cemetery providing an excellent place for quiet contemplation and meditation. 

In 2015, SOS Elms (now known as SOS Trees) published a booklet entitled ‘Saskatoon Tree Tour’.  The booklet highlights 25 of the most notable trees in Saskatoon, providing their location as well as some background information on each tree.  The booklet can be found at several locations in the City of Saskatoon or online at https://www.sostrees.ca/pdf/TT-publication-wo-map.pdf.  A fun ‘staycation’ could be biking around the city throughout the summer looking at each of the 25 notable trees. 

In honor of arbor week, consider taking out a membership in SOS Trees Coalition (https://www.sostrees.ca/index.html).  Their work in protecting Saskatoon’s urban forest is invaluable.  SOS Trees and their partners have organized an Arbor week full of fun activities for the entire family.  Check out all of their planned events at https://www.sostrees.ca/arborweek.html

No matter your age, consider planting a tree or two during Arbor week.  “Blessed are those who plant trees under whose shade they will never sit.” (Indian proverb)

This column is provided courtesy of the Saskatchewan Perennial Society (SPS; saskperennial@hotmail.com ). Check our website saskperennial.ca) or Facebook page (facebook.com/saskperennial). All Saskatchewan Perennial Society events are on hold until further notice.