Putting Down Roots 

Memphis City Beautiful launches tree-planting fund.

Memphis City Beautiful is trying to maintain Memphis' reputation.

"Memphis is known as the City of Trees because of the beautiful canopy we have," says Eldra White, executive director of Memphis City Beautiful. "You can really see the canopy when you fly over the city. That's one asset that Memphis has."

As part of a new Memphis City Beautiful program, 18 trees will be planted at Highland and Poplar in April. The planting is made possible by the organization's new Green City Fund, which collects donations from citizens who wish to honor someone's memory with a tree.

Founded in the 1930s, Memphis City Beautiful is the first and oldest public city beautification commission. The group used to have a similar tree-planting program called the Memorial Tree Trail Fund, which was responsible for planting many of the trees along East Parkway in the 1970s.

White says they're relaunching the program with more focus on the greening aspect of tree planting, but the donations can continue to be made as memorials.

"We can't specify trees for individuals, but we'll collect donations over time until we get enough to plant trees in a public space," White says. "Someone can donate as little as $10 or any amount they feel they can contribute."

The commission raised $1,700 to plant trees at Highland and Poplar. The trees are a mix of red maples, oaks, and sugar maples.

"We're trying to plant more trees that will be attractive in the fall," White says. "We may even consider planting some flowering cherry trees as locations see fit."

White says the commission generally does one tree planting per year, typically on Arbor Day in March. This year's planting was pushed to April in conjunction with the University District's Highland Street Beautification Effort, a push to revitalize the neighborhood surrounding the University of Memphis.

"That area at Highland and Poplar is highly visible, and we thought we'd make a better statement at that corner," White says. "But we'll plant trees through this program across the city from South Memphis to North Memphis or anywhere that needs trees."

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