Trees for Arbor Day Foundation – Celebrating 50 Years

150 years ago, Arbor Day was founded by J. Sterling Morton. 50 Years ago, the Arbor Day Foundation was begun. And now, at the celebration of those 50 years, Grimm’s Gardens has become a big part of it all. Doug Grimm, the founder of Grimm’s Gardens, has worked another amazing tree partnership, this time with the Arbor Day Foundation. As a part of their 50 year commitment to trees, Doug will be planting 150 trees at Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City.

In 1994, Doug and Jeryl Grimm began in the horticulture industry, and since then they have traveled the earth, looking at trees. When I talk to Doug about trees in our arboretum, or a tree he saw on a business trip for NutraDrip Irrigation, he gets excited as a schoolboy. I confess, talking about trees makes me giddy too.

But what is the Arbor Day Foundation? And how are we at Grimm’s Gardens a part of the work being done for planting trees? Also, what is our future role in planting and tree care?

Arbor Day and the Arbor Day Foundation

As settlers in the 1800s moved westward, they came across a vast plain of grass and herbs, known as the Great Plains. For many pioneers, they missed the wooded mountains and hills of their native lands. Few places in the world have such a vast “emptiness” as does the central United States. Trees are usually easy to find.

And so, settlers wanted them. In Nebraska in 1872, J. Sterling Morton proposed and dedicated the first Arbor Day. It began on April 10th, 1872, and more than 1 million trees were planted. Known fondly as the Tree Planter’s Holiday, Arbor Day is a day of celebration and planting of trees.

In 1972, on the centennial of Arbor Day, the Arbor Day Foundation was created by John Rosenow. The foundation oversees events, Arbor Day Farm and Tree Adventure, Lied Lodge, the home of J. Sterling Morton, and much more. They have been influential in developing a love for trees worldwide, and started Tree City USA, Tree Campus USA, and more.

Lied lodge
Lied Lodge is Home to the Arbor Day Foundation

Grimm’s Garden’s Role in Planting Trees

Ever since I first met Doug, I sensed his love for trees. Come to Grimm’s Gardens in North Central Brown County, KS, and you can see that too. Between the arboretum and gardens planted by Doug, Jeryl, and their kids, there is a lot to see. Nearly every trees is special. When I think about all the work Doug has done selling and promoting trees both locally and away, it is mind boggling.

Doug is a master salesman, because he loves people and trees. But more than that, his love for trees helps them become more important to others. When I meet a client to diagnose tree problems, I learn how much Doug’s influence on trees has helped shaped the community. At events outside of the area, someone always asks me about what Doug and the arboretum are up to.

I cannot begin to tell you how many trees Doug has planted. Hundreds of thousands would be a good guess. But why? Because, trees are being lost daily to construction, timber cutting, and forest fires. Because provide homes for insects, birds, and mammals. And because Life is a Shade Better Under a Tree.

Under Doug’s leadership, Grimm’s Gardens has produced a large number of trees, selected for growing in the Central Great Plains many of which are grown across the United States.

Doug Grimm
Doug Grimm sharing oak acorns with his grandkids

Trees Developed By Doug Grimm

  • Sugar Maple ‘Oregon Trail’ – by far our easiest to sell tree, the ‘Oregon Trail’ was selected by Doug and members of the Hiawatha, KS community from several large sugar maples growing in Hiawatha. This tree grows 50 feet tall and wide, with leathery, dark green leaves, and turns a brilliant red/orange in autumn.
  • Catalpa ‘Heartland’ – selected for its very upright growth, ‘Heartland’ catalpa grows 60 feet tall by 20 feet wide. The large, tropical-looking leaves and fragrant flowers are a must for gardens.
  • KC Trees – currently in production, developed and selected by Doug and others for the Central Great Plains Region. These have a KC subset in the title and will be available soon in the market.
  • Other trees – Doug is always working on something. There are some promising selections coming in the next 5 years, in maples, oaks, and more.

Our Future Role in Tree Care

I have no notions of leaving Grimm’s Gardens. For the last 11 years I have been working to learn new things about trees and tree care, and believe I can make a difference in helping others plant and grow trees in our area. Besides that, Doug will continue to develop trees for the industry, as well as growing trees to study for the future.

Trees have long been a focus for Grimm’s Gardens and as such we see no change. We will continue to work alongside the Arbor Day Foundation, Kansas Forest Service, and other local and regional programs to develop, sustain, maintain, and grow tree knowledge, care, and love. Trees are needed for the future of our earth.

tree adventure at arbor day farm
The author’s kids at the Tree Adventure at Arbor Day Farm


Now you know a little about the love and care we have for trees in our work and community. They are a part of our future. Working with people, planting trees, and celebrating with the Arbor Day Foundation is important. Because “Life is a shade better under a tree“.

Happy planting!

author of celebrating trees

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