The sun came out Wednesday afternoon for about 40 volunteers and city employees to begin planting a grove of trees at South Lakes Park in honor of President John F. Kennedy.
Some of the trees were donated by the Texas Tree Foundation, a 30-year-old nonprofit based in Dallas that has been working with groups in other North Texas cities to plant groves that commemorate each year since Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas in 1963.
Other trees were donated by Keep Denton Beautiful.
The volunteers are part of the second class of “citizen foresters” being trained by the city. They helped plant the first 25 trees that will grow to shade the playground and the trail at the northeast corner of the park.
Angie Kralik, the city’s urban forester, designed the grove, which is expected to add about 75 new trees to a part of the park that has only a few old oak trees.
The foundation’s urban forester, Matt Grubisich, demonstrated for the group how to plant the first tree, a bald cypress.
“Put it in green side up,” he joked, but then spent about 10 minutes offering guidance about how to prepare the ground, trim the roots, set the tree and mound the mulch.
Lauren Barker, program manager for Keep Denton Beautiful, has been participating in the forestry classes alongside other volunteers, many of whom have already completed Master Naturalist and Master Gardener training. She finds the additional information about the science of trees helpful.
“We have programs where we are giving trees away,” Barker said. “Ideally, we want them to survive. It will be great to share this information with the public.”
Most of the trees volunteers planted Wednesday are between four and five years old, Grubisich said, and should live about a century.
The group planted red oaks and chinquapin oaks, which, like the bald cypress, are native to Texas. They also planted Monterrey oak and Chinese pistache, which aren’t native but are well-adapted to local conditions, Grubisich said.
Kralik plans to bring the group back in January, when the class will tackle pruning.
“That will be a good time for it,” Kralik said.
The grove at South Lakes Park is the second stand of trees planted by the citizen foresters, Kralik said. Earlier this year, the group planted trees along the rail trail.
For more information about the citizen forester program, call Courtney Blevins at 817-879-3974. For more information about the Texas Tree Foundation, visit www.texastrees.org.
PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881 and via Twitter at @phwolfeDRC.