ST. GEORGE – The sesquicentennial of the city of St. George has been much celebrated; the St. George Wagon Company’s 100-mile journey from Parowan to St. George, the Dixie Cotton Mission Pioneer Parade and the Dixie Legacy Celebration downtown this past weekend are among those events saluting the city’s 150-year birthday.
But while these celebrations have come and gone, the city is yet being beautified with the planting of 150 trees in honor of the legacy.
“We’ve planted quite a few (already),” said Mark Hodges, who sits on the city’s Shade Tree and Beautification Board. “We are slowly planting them” as temperatures decline to optimum degrees for the trees’ success. The city expects to have them all planted before the first frost, he added.
The trees are being placed “mainly in some of the parks, one in Vernon Worthen, one in The Nature Center and in Tonaquint Park, some in our elementary schools, and some downtown in the historical area,” Hodges said.
The real headliner of these trees, though, is “The Dixie Legacy Tree,” which is a multi-trunk Mulberry, planted on Oct. 14 in Encampment Mall at Dixie State College; the tree was dedicated at the Dixie Legacy Celebration Saturday.
Encampment is the place the pioneers first set up camp when they first came to St. George and it rained for 40 days and 40 nights, Hodges said.
“So, Brigham Young sent them to raise cotton and silk, the whole reason of sending them here, the civil war was going on and you couldn’t get those things from the south. So,” Hodges said, “the Mulberry is what was fed to the silkworm. So they planted the mulberry to feed to the silkworm and that’s why we planted the mulberry as the Legacy tree.”
The multi-trunk tree, now planted in Encampment Mall, is actually five trees planted each right next to the other.
“It’ll be one big tree – one big box tree and then on each of the north, east, south and west, are four other trees planted within three feet of each other,” Hodges said. “So when they’re next to each other, they push out in a forest setting and will push out really fast and have a really big spread.”
The Legacy Tree was the product of a few sponsors, Hodges said, including the city of St. George, Arbor Tech (his own company) and Star Nursery.
“The big one was grown at the city’s tree farm, a 48-inch box (most in a nursery are 24-inch – it would be a $1,000 tree if bought retail). The city saves a lot of money growing those large trees – it was grown from a $1 width (planting). We grew a $1,000 tree at a cost of $1,” Hodges said with exclamation. “We put it out there (at the city’s tree farm), we get free water because it’s reclaimed water from the water treatment plant and free electricity from the solar plant (to run the clocks).”
“We got two more 24-inch box trees from the tree farm, and then Star Nursery donated two 24-inch boxes.”
Hodges’ own company, Arbor Tech handled the Legacy Tree project and is working with the city to plant the balance of the 150 trees, many of which will come from the tree farm and many from Star Nursery.
Mark Hodges, owner of Arbor Tech, sits on the City of St. George’s Shade Tree and Beautification Board and the Utah Community Forestry Council, among other roles. Arbor Tech in St. George offers a variety of services pertaining to trees and shrubs and can be contacted at telephone number 435-632-0972.
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