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In the mid 1850s, Orrington Lunt, who headed the committee to find a location for Northwestern University, discovered by accident a majestic oak grove by the lake. This occurred just as the executive committee (which included his brother-in-law, John Evans) was about to buy a site in Jefferson Park. When the committee saw the grove, they threw their hats in the air and shouted, “This is the place.” Evanstonians have been enthusiastic about their trees ever since. For more than 25 years, Evanston has been a Tree City USA.

In Illinois, April is a traditional time for tree care. Before trees go into full leaf is a good time to look for dead and broken branches. These branches are easy to spot as the buds on other branches begin to swell. Not having fully expanded foliage to deal with makes viewing branches easier and it is easier to manage the resulting landscape waste. Those in tree-watch mode might look at the trees in the parks and on the parkways, keeping an eye out for branches that look dangerous or hide stop signs or cars coming around corners. At the 311 Call Center the pleasant person who answers the phone will take information and the exact location.

April is also a time for planting trees. A new tree or shrub can improve property, provide protection from hot sun or cold wind and reduce the carbon footprint. A trip to a nursery will show what is available. It is important to find out what conditions the plant prefers and how large it will grow. It is also a good idea to recheck the site before buying and planting a tree or shrub. Old-timers used to say, “Look up, look down, look all around.” Planting directly under power lines, over water pipes, or too close to a walk or wall can cause many problems. One should think twice before planting those cute little spruce trees on each side of the front door.

At noon on April 27 a red oak will be dedicated in Patriots’ Park at Sheridan and Davis, honoring all those who serve or have served in the armed forces of the United States. At the same time, the Four Seasons Garden Club and the Mayor of Evanston will present certificates of thanks and appreciation to members of the forestry crews.

Evanston is still the place for trees. Now is a good time to plant a new tree, take care of an old one, and say thanks for their shade, shelter and the air we breathe.