Conway notebook | Conway to teach people about proper tree planting

Who would have thought there’s a science to planting a tree?

Dig a hole, put it in, give it a little fertilizer, water it. Right?

Well, sort of but not really, says Wanda Lilly, arborist for the city of Conway.

First of all, it’s not a good idea to fertilize something when you plant it. It’s already in a minor tizzy, adjusting to its new home and all, and fertilizer on top of that would be like inviting the neighbors over for a cookout on the day you move into your new house.

No, thank you.

Secondly, says Lilly, you have to be careful not to plant it too deep, a common mistake. The top roots of the tree should be above ground when it settles in, which means you need to make sure the soil under it is well compacted so that it doesn’t sink below the optimum height from initial waterings.

Lastly, you must know how to mulch.

Many people think it’s best to make a volcano cone of mulch around a tree’s trunk, but that’s more likely to kill the tree than help it. Lilly says that all that mulch creeping up the trunk can rob the roots of the oxygen they need for the tree to prosper. Keep any mulch six inches from the tree, Lilly says, and make sure it incorporates at least three inches of organic material.

Why are we telling you all this in late November?

Because, as any devoted Southern gardener knows, fall and winter months are the best time to plant trees and most shrubs. By putting a tree in place in December, you’re giving it a chance to settle in before the heat and stress of summer hits. Moisture also stays in the soil better in the cold months, so you shouldn’t need to haul pails and pails of beverage to your yard’s new resident.

Those of you who might find written directions akin to deciphering Japanese can watch Lilly do it properly at Conway’s Arbor Day celebration on Friday.

At 9:30 a.m. that day, Lilly will be planting a Savannah holly in the Collins Park Retreat Garden, telling as well as showing how it’s done. Collins Park is at the southwest corner of Main Street and Sixteenth Avenue.

But the morning will have an added benefit to people who attend, including a group of invited day care children.

“They’re going to learn about the importance of native plants and berries,” Lilly said.

Native plants, of course, need less care than non-natives because they’re used to the climate and water vagaries of this area. The berries produced by hollies feed birds and other wildlife through the winter.

Bombers 1, naysayers 0

The Conway City Council approved the town’s first yarn-bombing reluctantly, refusing to allow any of the yarn creations on the city’s oaks and relegating them instead to light poles in Riverfront Park.

According to City Council members, they had one lady complain about the bombing and they wanted to be sensitive to her and others like her who didn’t think the avant garde art was suitable for just anywhere.

The Council, though, allowed the yarn bombers to install their work at Riverfront Park in late October and now, surprise of surprises, the exhibit is so popular that the city has asked the bombers to let them extend their stay.

The pieces were originally to have come down Dec. 1. But Barbara Streeter, organizer of the bombing, said she’s now been asked if the art could remain in place through the winter.

“They’ve had some positive comments,” Streeter said Friday.

In fact, she said she was told that there have been a lot of calls and emails to City Hall seeking an extension of the exhibit through the Christmas holiday and the dreary months that follow. The City Council is expected to consider its approval of the extension at Monday’s meeting.

Streeter said the city’s yarn bombers are already planning two more bombings for 2013 and are working on a big bombing in 2014 that will remain a secret for the time being.

Noshing with the elf

Conway area youngsters and their parents are invited to breakfast with Santa Claus Saturday at the Conway Recreation Center.

The menu includes eggs, sausages, grits “and all kinds of good stuff for the kids,” said Foster Hughes, the city’s director of parks, recreation and tourism.

Asked what was included in “and all kinds of good stuff,” Hughes replied, “They will get candy canes.”

There is a small cost to the event, during which the youngsters will get lap time with The Man and a photo of just the two of them to take home and put under their pillows. Children age 3 and older are $3 with tickers for adults being $4. Children age 2 and younger are free with a paying adult.

Kids, or their parents, can register for the breakfast, which begins at 8 a.m., at or at the rec center on Mill Pond Road.

Holiday yard art

Conway has a Christmas card contest for kids each year with the winner’s creation gracing the card the city sends to the favored.

But don’t think that adults are left out in the cold of December.

Conway also salutes those who brave the elements just long enough to decorate their houses and yards for the holiday.

This year, the city will be judging entrants on Dec. 11, 12 and 13, with the winner getting $100 and the runner-up $75.

To register your effort, go online to or at the Conway Recreation Center on Mill Pond Road.