In April, The Morton Arboretum recognizes Arbor Day, a nationally celebrated holiday to encourage tree planting and care and one of special significance for the institution. Established in 1872 by the Morton family, Arbor Day is recognized on the last Friday of the month—this year it takes place April 26.
The day serves as an important reminder of the crucial role trees play now and in the future. In a changing climate, trees provide vital benefits, such as capturing air pollution through their leaves, intercepting stormwater and shading buildings and pavement, thereby reducing heat buildup.
The Morton Arboretum will celebrate Arbor Day with a series of events showcasing trees, including the popular annual Plant Sale and family-friendly activities on April 26 and throughout the weekend.
Arbor Day Events: Friday, April 26
Dress Like a Tree, Get In Free!
Those who visit The Morton Arboretum on Arbor Day dressed as a tree will gain free admission all day! Outfits can range from a green or brown T-shirt and hat to an elaborate costume masterpiece.
Arbor Day Tree Planting and Story Time
Celebrate Arbor Day with a visit from Curious George and The Man in the Yellow Hat at the Arboretum. Enjoy a group reading of “Curious George Plants a Tree,” and join in a tree planting.
Arbor Day Weekend Events: Friday, April 26–Sunday, April 28
Arbor Weekend Celebration in the Children’s Garden
Visitors can plant tree seeds and hunt for five specific trees throughout the Children’s Garden all weekend long during this self-guided, hands-on activity.
Arbor Day Plant Sale
Shoppers will find tens of thousands of trees and plants specially chosen by Arboretum experts during the Arbor Day Plant Sale. The sale will include hundreds of species and varieties of trees, shrubs, perennials and vegetables available for purchase. Shoppers with questions about plants best suited for their landscape can consult with roaming Plant Geniuses. The sale opens to the public from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 27, and continues from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, April 28. Members with pre-purchased timed tickets can shop beginning Friday, April 26.
NEW! Arbor Day Block Party
Visitors can enjoy vehicle-free roads on the Arboretum’s east side as well as live music and a food truck social from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, April 28. The block party will also include the opportunity to join walking tours featuring the larger-than-life creatures of Troll Hunt, the Arboretum’s current exhibition. On-site bike rentals will be available.
The Morton Arboretum and Arbor Day
Arbor Day was instituted by J. Sterling Morton, father of Joy Morton, the founder of the Arboretum. J. Sterling Morton moved to Nebraska in 1854 and saw the newly formed territory relatively devoid of trees. To encourage tree planting, he proposed in 1872 that the new state declare April 10 as Arbor Day, and his proposal was accepted. On that first Arbor Day, it is said that Nebraskans planted one million trees. In 1885, Nebraska declared J. Sterling Morton's birthday, April 22, as Arbor Day and made it a legal holiday. Today, all 50 states as well as many countries around the world recognize Arbor Day.