More than 400 trees planted for Earth Day in Hamilton

Hundreds of saplings were planted on the weekend in usual Earth Day fashion — but Hamiltonians also got a chance to know more about the full-grown trees that have shaded our city for decades.

For tree-enthusiast Tom Nagy, the Royal Botanical Gardens trails and arboretum are like home.

“I know these trails better than myself,” he said.

Nagy, 22, volunteered as a tree tour guide Saturday, taking families around the RBG’s arboretum and surrounding woods, pointing out the species and ages of trees lining the paths. Dozens of Hamiltonians braved the cold that afternoon to plant trees behind the arboretum as part of the Earth Day festivities. Others lined up for some of the 20 truckloads of free mulch the RBG offers its members.

“You can live comfortably in a city and never really experience nature,” Nagy said.

The ecosystem restoration graduate quickly identified any tree pointed out to him — its leaves, its bark, its history.

One, a massive American Sycamore with a camouflage-like pattern on its bark and long branches reaching the ground, is from the 1940s when the arboretum was opened.

Having an understanding of the individual trees and their history “really puts you in your place,” he said.

More than 400 trees were planted in the marsh land off Old Guelph Road on Saturday, where native plants had been threatened by invasive weed species.

Organizer Laurel Harrison said everyone from small children, students and retirees came out to do their part.

Volunteer Adam El Fouley, who is 7 and a half, said he came out because his mom told him to, but also because trees “help us to breathe.”

The annual event was put on by Earth Day Hamilton, with help from the Royal Botanical Gardens and the Bay Area Restoration Council. Earth Day will be officially celebrated around the world on Monday.

Saturday included a cleanup walk that led a group of volunteers along Cootes Drive, collecting bags and bags of garbage from Olympic Park in Dundas, before warming up in the RBG for green presentations and entertainment.

“It’s people who are invested in … giving a little bit back,” volunteer Dave Hart Dyke said of the crowd. “People who know things won’t just take care of themselves.”

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