A Cyprus tree that Waimea Outdoor Cirle gave out about four years ago at one of the Twilight Christmas Parades. It is now about six feet tall. (PHOTO COURTESY OF CHERYL LANGTON FOR NHN)
For the last 15 years, Waimea Outdoor Circle has shared its dream of green Christmases — generously giving away tree seedlings at the annual Twilight Christmas Parade. Some of those trees are part of the landscape now, and with a little luck, more will grow in the years to come.
“It’s a fun project, and really positive,” said WOC president Cheryl Langton. “Last year we gave away 750 trees and this year we decided to expand to 1,000.”
Purchased from the State Tree Nursery at $1 each, the seedlings are a variety of different trees, ready for planting.
“People get so excited about the trees,” said Langton. “They say, ‘Oh, we’ve been getting them for years—we lined our whole driveway.’ So, we’d really like to encourage people to send us pictures of the trees they planted. … I have one, a cypress that’s three years old and over six feet tall.”
“We’re also giving away seeds this year—flowers, herbs and vegetable seeds,” said Langton. “This way we can give something to everyone.”
Earlier in the day, WOC will hold its annual wreath-making class at Ulu La’au Nature Park. The 10-acre parcel leased by WOC from the State (behind Canada France Hawaii Telescope’s offices) provides a place for outdoor recreation, environmental research, education and the nurturing of native plants. Specimens include 36 varieties of endemic or indigenous plants, relatives of those who arrived to the islands prior to human contact, and what may be Hawaii’s largest collection of ohia lehua trees.
“It’s a great place,” said Langton. “A beautiful open space we wouldn’t have access to otherwise.”
The Nature Park is open daily, from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and a self-guided tour booklet is available to borrow or to keep for a suggested donation of $3.
One hundred percent volunteer-driven, WOC maintains the Park as part of its over-arching mission “to keep Hawaii clean, green and beautiful by preserving, protecting and enhancing our environment for future generations.” WOC is part of the statewide Outdoor Circle, founded more than 100 years ago and perhaps best known for eradicating billboards from all the islands in 1926. The organization is also committed to planting and protecting trees, environmental education, promoting underground utilities, community beautification and more.
In addition to the Nature Park, WOC maintains the median strip gardens through town, participates in the Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival in February and conducts a large-scale plant sale every April at the Nature Park.
Anyone interested learning more about native plants is welcome to join WOC work days at Ulu La’au, the Waimea Nature Park, every other Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Gloves, garden tools, water and snacks are provided. The next work day is Saturday, Dec. 14.