On May 1, a tree-planting ceremony was held at Sunset Park in  Madison Heights to commemorate Arbor Day.

On May 1, a tree-planting ceremony was held at Sunset Park in Madison Heights to commemorate Arbor Day.

Photo by Deb Jacques

Madison Heights holds tree planting, announces native plant sale

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published May 10, 2021


MADISON HEIGHTS — City officials kicked off the month of May with a pledge to continue restoring the town’s tree canopy, and they announced a native plant sale for the end of the month.

First there was a ceremonial tree planting at Sunset Park on May 1 in recognition of Arbor Day. Arbor Day was the last Friday in April. Madison Heights Mayor Roslyn Grafstein and Madison Heights City Council member Emily Rohrbach were among the officials in attendance. The city is making plans to plant an additional 75 trees in the neighborhoods near Sunset Park.

The native plant sale will take place 2-5 p.m. May 30 at Civic Center Park, near the library, at the corner of 13 Mile and John R roads. Custom garden kits will be available along with free seeds, educational activities for children and a live monarch butterfly display.

The mayor recounted how this continues efforts from last year, when the city planted more than 100 new trees in the city, including 32 trees along Moulin Avenue, an area that was deemed most in need.

“As we work to create a safer, more walkable city in both our neighborhoods and by our local businesses, trees are an integral part of this process,” Grafstein said in an email. “This year we have identified another area for a mass planting, and this process will continue annually until our tree canopy is restored.”

She credited Rohrbach, a frequent collaborator on eco-friendly projects, as being a driving force in the tree-planting initiative.  

“Since being appointed the ECC (Environmental Citizens Committee) representative last year after my appointment to mayor, Emily Rohrbach has done an excellent job continuing my work to bring more trees and pollinator-friendly gardens to the city, and I am excited to walk around and see the natural beauty she is helping to bring back.”

The tree plantings replace trees that were lost due to various reasons, be it replenishing the stock of silver maples that had reached their 60-year lifespan, or trees that had to be removed due to road construction, disease or pests.

The plantings also fulfill the city’s commitment to add more trees each year — a requirement to maintain the city’s new “Tree City USA” status awarded by the Arbor Day Foundation. There are other requirements as well, such as designating a city forester.

The native plant sale is another ECC initiative, crafted by its Bloom Project subcommittee, which aims to support pollinator species such as butterflies and bees. This is achieved through native plants such as purple coneflower, black-eyed Susans, milkweed and liatris, planted in personal gardens and on city land such as medians and parks.

Crystal Fox is a resident and master gardener who serves on the committee.

“A native plant is a plant that has grown here and has evolved over thousands of years without human interference,” Fox said in a statement. “The flowers we plant throughout the city are selected because they belong in Madison Heights, pull in rain, feed our pollinators and beneficial insects, and support the area’s biodiversity.

“One popular pollinator is the monarch butterfly,” she continued. “The only plant that the monarch caterpillars can feed on is the milkweed plant. And most of our other pollinators have specific plant needs just like the monarch. By planting a variety of native plants, we begin to build up food sources for our important native pollinators, who need all the help they can get to battle poisons, loss of habitat and invasive species.

“Our goal is to share with the community what native plants can really do and just how easy it is to grow a native garden,” Fox concluded. “We need to be feeding these pollinators. One of every three bites we take is because a pollinator is feeding us.”