CRESTVIEW — Area green thumbs will celebrate Florida’s Arbor Day Friday morning with a tree giveaway and tree planting at the University of Florida/IFAS Okaloosa County Extension location on Airport Road.



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CRESTVIEW — Area green thumbs will celebrate Florida’s Arbor Day Friday morning with a tree giveaway and tree planting at the University of Florida/IFAS Okaloosa County Extension location on Airport Road.



The Daughters of the American Revolution’s Choctawhatchee Bay chapter donated a $200 winged elm tree to be planted during Friday’s events. The tree can grow as high as 40 feet, Okaloosa County Master Gardener Sandie Olsen said.



“Its seeds are a great bird attractor,” Olsen said. “And it’s not susceptible to Dutch elm disease.”



The Dogwood Garden Club of Crestview likewise donated a tree, also to be planted during Friday’s events.



“They (county Master Gardeners) have a landscape master plan and this will be part of it,” Dogwood member Celia Broadhead said.



County Extension officials, Master Gardeners and state forestry officials will offer advice on tree planting in the north county region, including a planting demonstration by County Extension commercial horticulture agent Sheila Dunning. Maria Wilson, the Florida Forest Service’s senior forester, will distribute free mayhaw, red maple, cherry bark oak and yellow poplar saplings.



Planting these and other trees native to northwest Florida is preferable to importing non-native exotic species, such as the palm trees some residents like to plant in their yards, retired forester and Forest Service Poet Laureate John McMahon said.



“Native trees are likely to adapt better to our local conditions,” he said. “They grew up here and are acclimated to growing in our soil. They’ve adapted to our conditions, including our colder winters. They are easier to maintain than exotic trees.”



Events begin Friday at 9 a.m. with the sapling giveaway, which lasts until noon or until all trees are given away.



Dedication of the DAR’s winged elm is at 10:30 a.m.; Dunning’s planting demonstration will follow.



Coffee and a guided tour of the new extension building will be provided at 11 a.m.



All events are free.



McMahon encouraged interested residents to visit the Crestview McMahon Environmental Center on Butler Circle, off Maypoles Street, beneath the fire tower. The center has been the location of past years’ Arbor Day events.



“We have more than 100 native species tagged for easy identification,” said McMahon, for whom the center was named.



Though national Arbor Day is celebrated on the last Friday in April, state Arbor Days are observed to correspond with optimal local tree planting conditions.



Florida’s Arbor Day is the third Friday of January.




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Want to go?



Arbor Day events — Friday at the University of Florida/IFAs County Extension office, 3098 Airport Road — are as follows.



9 a.m. to noon: Sapling giveaway (while supplies last)



10:30 a.m.: Dedication of DAR winged elm; tree planting demonstration



10:45 a.m.: Dedication and planting of Dogwood Garden Club’s tree



11 a.m.: Refreshments and tour of County Extension building



Admission for all events is free.



Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Brian Hughes at 850-682-6524 or brianh@crestviewbulletin.com. Follow him on Twitter @cnbBrian.