Meet the Largest Tree City USA Community

More than 135 million residents in 3,400 communities across America and Puerto Rico call their home a Tree City USA. Tree City USA is a program of the Arbor Day Foundation that provides the framework for communities to manage and improve the care of public trees.

NYCFor 19 years the 8.4 million residents of New York, New York have called their home a Tree City USA, earning recognition as early as 1983 and spanning to 2014.

Locals and tourists of New York City can appreciate the beauty of the five million trees found throughout city by relishing a scenic bike ride or strolling along any number of parks.

Despite being an influential center of art, culture and finance, New York City is comprised of more than 11,000 acres of parkland—equating to 40% of the city—demonstrating that it places importance on community forestry as much as its other attractions.

But it doesn’t stop there. New York City continues to grow its community forest through initiatives such as MillionTreesNYC—a campaign launched in 2007 aimed at planting one million trees by 2017. Approximately 70% of the trees—700,000 trees—are to be planted in parks and other public spaces. Residents can even participate in the program by adopting trees and tracking the care of their trees online. Nearly 12,000 trees have been adopted in the MillionTreesNYC program.

A city known for its rich heritage and early beginnings, New York is becoming a pioneer in yet another area: community forestry. Their dedication to continuously grow their community forest sets an example of what’s possible even in a metropolis.

Is your community a Tree City USA? Learn more about our standards and how it can benefit your city.

Lacebark Elm: The Underdog

lacebark elm leaves

Photo Credit: Bri Weldon, Flickr

Considered a handsome and very durable tree, the Lacebark Elm is attractive as a street tree because of its ability to grow in adverse conditions and its relative freedom from the diseases that have ravaged many other Elm species. It earns its name from its distinctive bark that creates colorful patterns in its trunk resembling lace.

Here are a few things to note if you’re considering adding a lacebark elm to your yard.

Environmental Conditions:

  • lacebark elm bark

    Photo Credit: Selena N.B.H., Flickr

    Lacebark elm grows well in rich, moist, well-drained, sandy, clay and loamy soils (hardiness zones 5-9).

  • Medium to fast growing tree, growing two to three feet a year and reaching 40-50 feet at maturity.
  • Full sun is ideal, but does well in multiple sun exposures.
  • Has some flood tolerance and drought resistance.

Physical Attributes:

  • Produces luscious, dark green leaves that change to yellow and red in the fall.
  • Has a distinctive bark that makes the tree stand out from others.
  •  Has a strong, rounded, crown making it ideal as a shade tree.

Do you have a lacebark elm? Tag us in a photo with it, we’d love to see!

Plant Trees in Honor of Your Loved Ones

Wouldn’t it be great if you could help the environment and at the same time honor your loved ones? I am excited to tell you two touching ways to leave a lasting impression, through the Trees in Celebration and Trees in Memory program—an initiative that plants trees in celebration or in memory of your family and friends. It’s a win-win!

TIM_card_with_textWhether it is the celebration of a milestone birthday or anniversary, graduation from high school or college, or even the birth of a new baby – whatever the event, give them a gift that will live on long after the party is over. Trees in Celebration lets you celebrate your friends and family in an enduring way: every dollar plants a tree in one of our nation’s forests in the name of the recipient and is recorded in our official Tree Registry. You receive a commemorative certificate for every donation you make, or if you are giving a last-minute gift you have the option to print at home. It is that easy!

Just as we celebrate, we also grieve. Trees in Memory is a meaningful way to have trees planted in memory of a lost loved one or friend. I’ve personally donated to Trees in Memory in honor of those who have passed in lieu of flowers. I received notes of appreciation that the spirit of their loved one will live on in a lasting and memorable way.

Similar to Trees in Celebration, every donation plants trees in one of our nation’s forests that have been devastated by natural disasters, whether it’s a forest fire or storm. The name of the recipient will be recorded in our official Tree Registry and you have the option to ship the personalized card to yourself or directly to the recipient. In addition, you can download and print a certificate at home.

Planting a tree is an act of direct benefit to all. They benefit the environment in numerous ways, including clean air and water, combating climate change, and providing habitat for animals – to name just a few. In addition to all of the environmental benefits, trees also provide healing attributes – including stress release.

The next time you are looking for a way to celebrate or memorialize your loved ones I encourage you to consider Trees in Celebration and Trees in Memory. You’ll be glad you did. Visit our website to get started.

Cupping Coffee: From the Rainforest to your Mug

Have you ever wondered how Arbor Day Coffees are selected and the process they undergo before being delivered to your doorstep?

We are always on the lookout for the best shade-grown coffees around the world. We visit farmers to ensure Arbor Day Coffee is shade-grown under the canopy of the rain forest and verify that sustainable farming practices are implemented. Shade-grown coffee produces a higher quality bean and results in a rich and flavorful cup. In determining if a coffee meets our quality standards, we look at a number of different factors through a method called cupping.

Coffee cupping is a process used in the industry to measure aroma, taste and overall quality of coffee beans. The first step of cupping starts with roasting the green coffee beans. In fact, before coffee is roasted it is referred to as “green coffee” because of its light green coloration. Each country and individual growing region has its own unique flavors. In order to maintain each flavor profile during our evaluation, we roast our coffee to a light roast just after first crack—a popping sound made in the roasting process when moisture is released from the coffee bean. A darker roast tends to burn out the unique origin taste profiles and doesn’t allow for good samples of coffee.

IMG_1017 (2)Once the coffee is roasted, we measure and grind the coffee into three to five cups. This helps us identify any defects and ensure consistency among each set. Then, we smell the fragrance of the dry, ground coffee and look for any hints of distinct flavors and check for freshness.




IMG_1022 (2)Next, we add water—heated between 200 and 204 degrees— and let it steep for four minutes. While it is steeping, we smell the aroma of the wet coffee, looking for any deficiencies and examining its richness.





IMG_1032 (2)

At four minutes, we “break the crust” of coffee grounds that have floated to the top of the cup and again, smell the aromas released by the coffee. Aromas in coffee can vary from flowery, fruity and herby to nutty, chocolaty and spicy.





IMG_1036 (2)As the coffee cools we begin the tasting process. We look for consistency in flavor, aftertaste, acidity, body, balance and sweetness. By slurping the coffee, we are able to use all of our taste buds to determine the level of sour, sweet, salty and bitter flavors opposed to simply swallowing it. We grade each category and sum the total scores to see where it falls on a 100 point scale. Coffee is determined specialty if it is graded at an 80 or higher on this scale.

After a coffee is scored and approved as meeting our flavor profiles and quality expectations, we start shipping it to the United States to begin the roasting and packaging process.

What is your preferred flavor of Arbor Day specialty coffee? Tag us in a photo with your mug.

Happy Banana Pudding Lovers Month!


Did you know that November marks Banana Pudding Lovers Month? That’s right, a whole month dedicated to the love of banana pudding! It was started by the Rodger’s family of Rodgers’ Banana Pudding Sauce as a way of re-creating childhood memories. And while banana “trees” may not live in the continental U.S., this month-long celebration is simply too good to pass up on.

Check out our take on banana pudding with Chef Thomas. Recipe below.

Banana Pudding

Pastry cream base:

4 cups milk

1 cup sugar

1 tsp salt

1 vanilla bean

Add all ingredients to a pot and bring to a simmer


8 oz egg yolks

¼ cup sugar

½ cup corn starch

Whisk all ingredients together and temper into the pastry cream base.


8 oz melted butter

3 mashed bananas

Add to tempered pastry cream base and cool for 4 hours

Layer with 3 cups graham cracker crumbs mixed with ½ cup sugar and 4 oz melted butter. Layer also with Whipped cream.

Tag us in a photo eating your favorite banana pudding recipe!


The Butternut Tree

(Juglans cinerea)

butternutA cousin to the black walnut, and sometimes called the white walnut, the butternut tree is a North American native, especially popular in the eastern United States. Butternuts, as the name implies, is popular in baking for their oily, buttery flavor. This sweet nut is also enjoyed by deer, squirrels and birds.

Here are a few things to note if you’re considering adding a butternut tree to your yard.

Environmental Conditions

  • Butternut trees grow well in acidic, alkaline, clay, loamy, moist, rich, sandy, salty and well drained soils (hardiness zones 3-7).
  • Slow growing tree, growing up to one foot a year and reaching 40-60 feet at maturity.
  • Does best in full sun.

Physical Attributes

  • Produces a rich butternut used in baking, confections and fresh eating.
  • Has a rounded canopy shape, making it ideal as a shade tree.
  • Note: nut production will occur in 7-10 years; it is self-fertile, but plant two trees for best results.

Do you have a butternut tree in your yard? Tag us in a photo, we’d love to see it!

Fall Shipping Starts Today

Today marks the start of fall shipping, which means your young trees are one step closer to arriving at your door step and starting their new life in your yard. Since we ship out by hardiness zones, it may still be a few weeks before some of them arrive. In the meantime, check out Tree Care Tips for Fall Planting to make sure you’re all set to get your seedlings in the ground as soon as they come.

In case it peaks your curiosity, here are the top 10 evergreen trees and shrubs from our nursery that are among the hundreds of trees that will be going out.

Woodward Globe ArborvitaeWoodward-Globe-Arborvitae_1-775[1]






American Arborvitae American-Arborvitae_1-776[1]






Emerald ArborvitaeEmerald-Arborvitae_1-777[1]






Golden Globe Arborvitae Golden-Globe-Arborvitae_1-778[1]






Green Giant Arborvitae Green-Giant-Arborvitae_1-779[1]





Common Boxwood Common-Boxwood_2-797[1]





Korean boxwood Korean-Boxwood_1-798[1]





Green Velvet Boxwood Green-Velvet-Boxwood_1-799[1]





Atlas Cedar Atlas-Cedar_1-806[1]





Deodar Cedar Deodar-Cedar_1-807[1]





What trees are you planting this fall? Tag us in a picture once it’s planted.

In The Kitchen With Chef Thomas: Caramel Apples

Join us as our head chef of the Lied Lodge & Conference Center shows you how to make caramel apples from scratch. Recipe below.


Caramel Apples

½ cup butter, cubed

2 cups brown sugar

1 cup light corn syrup

1 pinch salt

1- 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

Popsicle sticks

Medium tart apples

Melt butter and add brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Cook to a boil, about 10-12 minutes. Stir in milk and vanilla. Cook until a candy thermometer reads 248 degrees. Allow the mixture to cool slightly and dip in apples. Allow that to cool for 45 minutes to an hour. Enjoy!

Tag us in a photo of your homemade caramel apples!

Spooky Cemetery Trees

Trees in a cemetery normally provide a calming and peaceful effect for visitors and passersby. But around Halloween, they take on a spookier air—casting eerie shadows, swaying and creaking in the wind, and providing plenty of fuel for the imagination as the sun sets.

Being a bit of a chicken, the whole idea of going into a cemetery on Halloween gives me the creepers. Especially if there are any remotely spooky-looking trees around. So here’s a few places you won’t find me tomorrow night.

Photo Credit: Tracy O (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Flickr

Photo Credit: Tracy O (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Flickr


Photo Credit: Katherine Owens (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo Credit: Katherine Owens (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

file000601569349 graveyard-384603_1920 iStock_000016495732_Large

And the foggy path for the win!


If you’re a little braver than me—or if you’re looking for a good scare—head on into the nearest well-treed cemetery. We’d love to see your pics on Instagram. Tag us @arbordayfoundation.

Boise Paper’s Project Up Event at Lindsay Street Park

Lindsay Street Park_Photo 3

Before: Green space is untended and neglected.

Minutes west of Downtown Atlanta sits the English Avenue Neighborhood. This neighborhood has seen its share of tough years as the area with the highest crime rate in the city of Atlanta. The neighborhood lacks numerous community resources, including the absence of a single outdoor park… until now. And residents are hoping that their new park could make all the difference.

Lindsay Street Park_Photo 5

Before: The area is neglected and full of pollution.

I recently attended one of the events that helped make the Lindsay Street Park possible: Boise Paper’s Project Up planting event. It was a wonderful experience. What was once a neglected and polluted space has transformed into a luscious green sanctuary in the center of one of the most precarious areas of the state.

We planted trees and shrubs in the park while children played on brand new playground equipment, installed just a few days before the event. (check out this video of them playing) Joyful parents looked on with pride, pausing every so often to tell us how much this park meant to the community.


After: Completed Lindsay Street Park playground.

As we planted I kept thinking about the upcoming Partners in Community Forestry Conference and how the Lindsay Street Park Project was a nice example of the great things that happen when partners come together. The park itself is the culmination of a three year process led by The Conservation Fund in partnership with Trees Atlanta, Atlanta Botanical Gardens, English Avenue Neighborhood Association and over 15 other nonprofit organizations, each playing a key role in the process.

The Lindsay Street Park Project is a fine example of a model that can be replicated in other underserved communities that face similar issues. Check out our Facebook album to see more photos of the transformation.