Arbor Day, which is Latin for “Tree Day,” is an environmental holiday where citizens and groups are encouraged to plant trees and care for the already existing trees. In 1854 J Sterling Morton moved from Detroit to the area that is now Nebraska. He and other pioneers noticed a lack of trees, which were needed to act as windbreaks to stabilize the soil and to give shade from the sun. Morton planted many trees around his own home and encouraged others to do the same.
On January 4, 1872, he proposed a holiday to plant trees on April 10 that year. This was known as “Arbor Day” and prizes were awarded to the counties and individuals who planted the most trees on the day. About one million trees were planted in Nebraska on the first Arbor Day. In 1885, Arbor Day became a legal holiday and was moved to April 22, which was Morton’s birthday. In 1989 the official state holiday was moved to the last Friday in April. All states in the US now have an official Arbor Day, usually at a time of year that is has the best weather conditions for planting trees.
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The wauti plant, of which the greater part of the cloth on this side of the island is made, is cultivated with much care in their gardens of sugar-cane, plantain, and whole plantations are sometimes devoted exclusively to its growth. Slips about a foot long are planted nearly two feet apart, in long rows, four or six feet asunder. Two or three shoots rise from most of the slips, and grow till they are six or twelve feet high, according to the richness of the soil, or the kind of cloth for which they are intended. Any small branches that may sprout out from the side of the long shoot, are carefully plucked off, and sometimes the bud at the top of the plant is pulled out, to cause an increase in its size. Occasionally they are two years growing, and seldom reach the size at which they are fit for use, in less than twelve or even eighteen months, when they are cut off near the ground, the old roots being left, to produce shoots another year. The bark, when stripped off and rolled up, as described above, is left several days; when, on being unrolled, it appears quite flat. The outer bark is then taken off, generally by scraping it with a large shell, and the inner bark, of which the cloth is made, is occasionally laid in water, to extract the resinous substances it may contain. Each piece of bark is then taken singly, and laid across a piece of wood, twelve or eighteen feet long, six inches square, smooth on the top, but having a groove on the underside, and is beaten with a square mallet of hard heavy wood, about a foot in length, and two inches wide; three sides are carved in grooves or ribs, the other into squares, in order that one mallet may answer for the different kinds of cloth they are accustomed to make. When they have beaten the bark till it is spread out nine inches or a foot wide, it is either dried and reserved for future use, or wrapped up in leaves, laid by for a day or two, and then beaten out afresh till the required extent and texture are produced. (Ellis)
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(These are excerpts from a book by William Ellis that has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired.)
The Leaf Cactus is unusual because it is a cactus that bears broad, succulent dark green leaves. The leaves are arranged alternately on the branches and are distinctly stalked with petioles up to 3 cm long. The leaf blade is 6 to 20 centimeters long and 2 to 7 cm wide, elliptic to oblong or lanceolate in shape. The five nerved leaf blades have four to six, often fork-shaped, side lobes. You can tell that it is a cactus because it produces the numerous sharp thorns characteristic of cactus plants in the desert. The thorns are either parallel in bundles or spread widely out. Long thorns on the branches are up to five to ten mm long. Along the main shoots there are up to 40 spines per areole, each 2 cm long.
Its flowers are yellow-orange, and it is somewhat triangular, berry-like fruits are yellow when ripe, and are edible, although they are not very flavorful, at least with this specimen. Incidentally, Cacti are native to the New World, while the cactus-like-in appearance Euphorbias are native to Africa (the Old World).
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Adjacent to the gardens entrance is the Rainbow Walk, in which you can view a profusion of tropical trees, shrubs and perennial plants and even a cactus garden. More than a quarter mile of paved pathways wind through the acres of plants in the Rainbow Walk, but visitors are encouraged to meander off the walkways for a closer look or to take pictures.
In this area, you can see blooming anthuriums, azaleas, bougainvillea, bromeliads, crinums, gingers, heliconias, hibiscus, and many other tropical flowering perennials, ferns, shrubs, and trees.
Many varieties of orchids festoon the plants in the Rainbow Walk or cling to the Orchid Wall with new blooms popping out almost every day. Orchids may be near your feet on a stump, peeping out from a pile of logs or hiding on a low-growing bush. They’re in almost every tree, living anywhere from a few feet off the ground to high in the canopy. The orchids come in almost every color from white to almost black. Many are very fragrant and one even smells like chocolate! See cattleyas, dendrobiums, phalaenopsis, vandas, and other species often with several varieties on the same tree.
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On January 3, 1840, Jozef de Veuster was born in the village of Tremelo in Belgium. He took the name Damianus when he became a novice in the order of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary (also known as Picpus Fathers) in Leuven, Belgium. In 1860 he became a full member of the order. This congregation sent missionaries to work on some islands in the Pacific Ocean since 1827. Father Damien, as he was known, was sent to Hawaii, where he worked in a colony for sufferers of Hansen’s disease, or leprosy, on the island of Molokai. He spent the rest of his life there working to alleviate suffering and died of the same disease on April 15, 1889. He was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009 and is now referred to as Saint Damien.
There are two identical bronze statues in Father Damien’s honor, which were designed by the sculptor Marisol Escobar and unveiled in 1969. One forms the centerpiece of the entrance to the Hawaii State Capitol in Honolulu and the other is in the National Statuary Hall Collection in the United States Capitol, Washington, DC.
On April 15, 1889, Father Damien died of Hansen’s disease on the island of Molokai, Hawaii. He was a man who cared for sufferers of this disease and continued his missionary work on this island. People in Hawaii remember his life and deeds on April 15, the anniversary of his death. Father Damien was originally buried on Molokai and his grave there is a site of devotion. In 1936, he body was returned to Belgium and he is now buried in Belgium, close to where he was born. His religious symbols are a tree and a dove and he is a spiritual patron for people living with HIV.
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