Although your kids might just see trees as nature’s jungle gyms, trees are vital to our environment. Celebrate the tall, leafy oxygenators during Arbor Day festivities this weekend. Arbor Day is traditionally celebrated on the last Friday in April. Check out more than just trees at the Arbor Day Celebration event at the Lake Katherine Nature Center and Botanic Gardens, 7402 Lake Katherine Drive, Palos Heights. Hosted in one of the nation’s Tree Cities, Palos Heights, your family will have a chance to explore exhibits and demonstrations from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday for free. Activities include dog agility and flyball demonstrations, pony and hay rides, a petting zoo, children’s activities and visits with gardening experts. For more information, call (708) 361-1873 or visit lakekatherine.org.Enjoy all things tree as you tour the woods and take in the oaks at the Heller Nature Center, 2821 Ridge Road, Highland Park, from 9 a.m.-noon on Friday. Admission is free. For more information, call (847) 433-6901 or visit hellernaturecenter.org.Make a more proactive move with the power of the pen at Morton Arboretum’s Treewhispers event from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday-Sunday. Your kids can write poems, environmental messages and other thoughts appropriate for Arbor Day using materials such as recycled paper goods, leaves, grasses and pine needles. The arboretum will hang all of the resulting "cards" as leaves on a faux tree. Morton Arboretum, located at 4100 Illinois Route 53, Lisle, was founded by Joy Morton, the proprietor of Morton Salt Company as well as the son of Julius Sterling Morton, who fathered Arbor Day. This event is free with arboretum admission of $11, $10 seniors 65 and older, $8 kids 2-17 and free kids under 2. Parking is included with admission. For more information, call (630) 968-0074 or visit mortonarb.org.Across the Indiana/Illinois state border, the Taltree Arboretum and Gardens, 450 W. 100 North, Valparaiso, hosts its Arbor Day Celebration from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday. The event includes tree, wetland and ephemeral woodland walks, a Garlic-Mustard Pull (bring your gardening gloves) and a heavy-equipment tree-planting demonstration throughout the day. Meet the local master gardeners, birding club, butterfly interest group and the photography club. Get your family involved in tree conservation by stopping by the tree-giveaway booth to take home a tree sapling. For a detailed list of activities, visit the Web site. Admission is free. For more information, call (219) 462-0025 or visit taltree.org.For more on Arbor Day, visit arborday.org. For more tree- and non-tree-related activities this weekend, visit our calendar.
Pictured, Cornelian-Cherry Dogwoods in bloom at the Morton Arboretum.
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