By Pat Kerl

Arbor Day is an annual observance that celebrates the role of trees in our lives and promotes tree planting and care, and Ellicottville is proud to be part of this annual celebration.

Arbor Day 2014 will be observed this morning, April 25, 2014, at 11 a.m. in the Nannen Arboretum, 28 Parkside Dr., next to the Town Center building. The Town of Ellicottville Supervisor, John Burrell, and the Village of Ellicottville Mayor, Charlie Coolidge, will make a proclamation declaring April 25, 2014, as Arbor Day in Ellicottville, N.Y.

The idea for Arbor Day in the United States originated in Nebraska City, Neb. J. Sterling Morton and his wife, Caroline, were lovers of nature and the home they established in Nebraska was quickly planted with trees, shrubs and flowers. In 1872, the Nebraska State Board of Agriculture accepted a resolution by Morton to “set aside one day to plant trees, both forest and fruit.” The board declared April 10, 1872, Arbor Day offering prizes to the counties and individuals that properly planted the largest number of trees on that day. More than one million trees were planted in Nebraska on the first Arbor Day, and as a result, J. Sterling Morton became known as the “Founder of Arbor Day.”

Shortly after this 1872 observance, other states passed legislation to observe Arbor Day each year with appropriate ceremonies. New York State celebrates Arbor Day on the last Friday in April, the 25th this year.

In a letter, John Rosenow, founder and president the Arbor Day Foundation, wrote “Planting trees is an act of kindness and optimism. The trees we plant clean the air, beautify our neighborhoods, provide homes for wildlife, conserve energy and topsoil, and help keep the atmosphere in balance. Life is just better when we live among the trees.”

Serviceberry Honored

On Arbor Day in Ellicottville this year, a native Serviceberry tree, Amelanchier x grandiflora ‘Autumn Brilliance,’ will be planted by the Nannen Arboretum Society. Members of the society will conduct demonstrations showing  proper tree planting techniques and the four season benefits of this native tree. The Tree City USA flag will be raised by Village Tree Stewards Jodi and Marty Bentley. Refreshments will be available after the ceremony in the Town Center auditorium.

What is the Nannen Arboretum?

Ellicottville is very fortunate to be the home to the Nannen Arboretum, located on 8 acres of land donated by William and Sadie Nannen in the 1958 to build the new Cornell Cooperative Extension building. The building was completed in 1961 and the Soil and Water Conservation Service constructed a pond on the site in 1965 to show agricultural people good pond construction and the benefits of having a farm pond. The pond is now known as Lake Nipponica.

The Nannen Arboretum was the brainchild of John Ploetz working at the Cornell Cooperative Extension having retired from Davey Tree of Ohio. John, with community support, designed and developed what is now known as the Nannen Arboretum in honor of the Nannens who not only donated the land but were instrumental in raising funds for the development of the arboretum.

The Town of Ellicottville is now the owner of the Nannen Arboretum as well as the newly renovated Town Center building. You can view the state tree of New York, the Sugar Maple, Acer saccharum at the arboretum. One is planted near the Northrup Nature Hall honoring Chief Cornplanter of the Seneca Indians.

With the transfer of the Nannen Arboretum from the Cornell Cooperative Extension to the Town of Ellicottville in 2013, the Nannen Arboretum Society was formed. The society is a not-for-profit, volunteer-based organization dedicated to providing home garden and natural resource education and an opportunity for nature appreciation and leisure.

The society membership is open to anyone who desires to support the arboretum’s mission. Volunteers are needed in both the maintenance and the administrative areas. If you have an interest in helping the arboretum prosper, contact us at to join, we welcome new members.

In addition to volunteer hours, the arboretum is funded by donations and grants. The society is currently reviewing grant opportunities and encourages you to consider one of the following donation opportunities:

Monetary Donation – You may donate directly to the donation box located at the entry shelter at the Nannen Arboretum or by check to P.O. Box 1852, Ellicottville, NY 14731.

Memorial Bricks for the Celebration Walkway – Bricks are available in two sizes, 4” x 8” or 8” x 8” (details and applications available upon request);

The Gift of a Tree or Shrub – You may choose from a pre-selected list of trees and shrubs native to the Western New York area (details available upon request);

A Wooden Bench – Memorialized with your personal message and/or special name on a brass plaque (details available upon request).