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The giving trees: Green group hands out free saplings

Posing with Groot: Brooklynites can adopt one or two baby trees at the Bay Ridge Library on May 6.
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It’s a tree-for-all!

A grassroots group devoted to green spaces and public parks will give away 250 trees to Brooklynites at the Bay Ridge Library on May 6. The New York Restoration Project chose nine types of native saplings that will work well in an urban environment, and the giveaway will help locals develop an army of arbors in unlikely places, said an organizer behind the project.

“We’re placing special attention on offering trees that fill various needs for properties,” said Rosemarie Miner, a manager for the Project. “This year we’re offering smaller trees, so if someone only has a courtyard they can still put something green in their space.”

Gardeners can choose from nine trunks that are native to the Northeast including the bushy Pagoda Dogwood; the Buttonbush, which is good for tight spaces; Witch Hazel with its yellow, confetti-like leaves; and the expansive Tulip Tree, which can stretch to the height of a 10-story building.

But there are no fruit-bearing trees, said Minder — in part because they can be a little tricky to care for — but also because they have a tendency to sow seeds of discord among neighbors.

“The fruit trees are a little more political for neighbors because fruit can sometimes fall onto the property of others and attract rodents,” she said. “We don’t give away apple and pear trees anymore because they’re a lot of work.”

And this year, the group has a two sapling per person limit, after tree fiends in previous years sought to plunder the Restoration Project’s reserves and haul away as many trees as they could get their hands on, said Miner.

“It’s an interesting experiment in human nature because, even though people are getting a free tree, there are people who try and take advantage of that,” said Miner. “But for the most part people are quite gracious. And when I tell them they can have a second one they just light up.”

All the trees are low maintenance and if they are regularly watered, growers should be in the clear. Each tree comes with planting instructions, but the benefit of having a giveaway steps from a library is that budding horticulturists can pop into the atheneum and learn all about their freshly acquired flora, said Miner.

“What’s great about doing it at the library is people can literally just go in and take out some books on their trees,” she said. “And we will be there to answer questions.”

The arbor giveaway is a continuation of the Million Tree Initiative, for which the Parks Department and the Restoration Project planted one million trees between 2007 and 2015. This spring, the Project plans to put an additional 3,500 baby trees up for adoption across the city.

Tree giveaway at the Bay Ridge Library [7223 Ridge Blvd. at 73rd Street in Bay Ridge, (718) 748–5709, www.nyrp.org]. May 6. Noon–2 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at cspivack@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2523. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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