Yesterday, my daughter came home from school with a tree seedling. It turns out that every Grade 1 student in Calgary is gifted a seedling in celebration of Arbour Day each year.

First thought… what a lovely gesture! And Arbour Day is the longest running civic greening project in Calgary, so it’s obviously been going on for a long time.


The instructions say… “Plant me in your garden right away. Give me room to grow as I will be a big tree of 15-20 metres tall and 7-9 metres wide. Plant me at least 4 meters away from other trees, shrubs or buildings”.

Erm, WHAT?

This tiny sapling is going to become a massive tree and I need to plant it immediately on my private property with no prior warning or ability to plan? How many people actually have the space to plant an unexpected tree that is going to be huge? We are heading for a lot of disappointed little 6-7 years old Calgarians.

“To date, annual Arbour Day celebrations in Calgary have distributed an estimated 425,000 tree seedlings to grade one students.” (City of Calgary website)

A few of my friends have fond memories of the trees they planted as tiny tots that are still going strong… and presumably now taking over their parent’s yard. But the whole thing just seems crazily impractical to me.

When our son got one last year, I put out a plea on FaceBook and a friend with an acreage offered us to plant it there. It didn’t last long before being accidentally mowed in a mercy killing.

How much money is spent on this initiative each year? How many trees actually get planted and thrive? Could there be alternatives… how about offer different sizes of trees or public places to plant the trees? Is there a way I could give the tree back or opt-out? By the time I find someone to take in the poor little thing will likely be dead.

I have a mind to gather all the unwanted seedlings that won’t be planted and take them down to City Hall for them to deal with in order to prove a point. Anyone with me?