Central Saanich is giving out free Douglas fir seedlings until Nov. 6 following a donation by Mosaic Forest Management.
Central Saanich residents can pick up the seedlings outside Municipal Hall at 1903 Mt Newton Cross Rd. from 9 a.m. to 4 while quantities last.
Mayor Ryan Windsor said the giveaway takes place in lieu of the municipality’s Tree Appreciation Day, which has historically taken place in early November, with a tree planting event open to the public, something not possible against the backdrop of public health regulations concerning COVID-19.
“But this year’s seedling giveaway will allow all to celebrate safely,” he said.
The municipality said in statement that the evergreen Douglas firs can add privacy and shade to properties. Once established, care is minimal as the tree is drought-tolerant. Within 10 years, a Douglas fir seedling may reach a height between 12 and 15 feet. They will ultimately be large trees and can grow to 120 feet and live hundreds of years, according to the municipality.
Coun. Zeb King told the Peninsula News Review he initiated Tree Appreciation Day in 2014 in following the lead of other municipalities but also cited personal experience.
“It came from something my mom did when my brother was born,” he said. “She found a spruce sapling that was the same length as he was and planted it. As we grew up the tree grew much taller than my brother, but we always knew that was his tree. It is still in our yard in Alert Bay and the story of it makes it a special tree.”
King said his hope has been to see this tradition take root in Central Saanich, where a family will plant a tree, take care of it and attach their story to that particular tree.
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