The Garden City Telegram
10/17/2012
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

Fall beauty

It's time to appreciate all trees have to offer.

Southwest Kansas scenery too often comes across as dull and lifeless.

Ongoing drought, naturally, has a way of sapping any color from a landscape marred by dusty, dry conditions.

So, when it comes to fall foliage, this part of the country is never going to compete with the likes of the spectacular aspen viewing to the west in Colorado, among other destinations.

But a look around locally does reveal something to appreciate in nice shows of red, orange, yellow and other colors associated with the annual autumn display.

A drive down Kansas Avenue and Main Street in Garden City, and by city parks offers as much. It's all the more impressive considering so many trees were threatened in the past year by extreme heat and drought.

Garden City already has too few trees, and those in place deserve attention.

And, we should plant many more.

To help make that happen, Garden City has a good strategy to encourage tree planting. Local residents may purchase trees for their homes and receive a rebate as part of a program offered in the fall and spring.

Trees purchased as part of the program must be on a recommended list available from the city, and have to be bought in Finney County to qualify, which is a nice plus for local businesses.

Beyond offering impressive flowering displays and changing colors in the different seasons, the elm, crab apple and other varieties that thrive here and contribute in an aesthetic sense also create shade, harbor birds and other wildlife, and improve air quality by absorbing air pollutants and giving off oxygen.

They even save homeowners some cash.

Air-conditioning costs are lower in a tree-shaded home, and windbreak trees can help reduce heating costs. Trees also improve property values.

Public landscaping in trees, bushes and other plants also helps spruce up a community's image. Such features send a message that people care about their environment, and make a city more inviting and enjoyable.

Count the current splashes of color around town as a nice sampling of as much, and an area worthy of continued growth.