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Garden Chat: How will you celebrate Arbor Week?

Several activities hosted in Saskatoon May 26 to June 1.
This year’s theme for Arbor Week in Saskatoon is “Homegrown Resilience.”

It has always astonished me how little respect we sometimes give our trees in Saskatchewan. Twenty-three years ago when I lived in Vancouver for several months, I noticed that when urban building or renovation was happening, the trees in the vicinity of any home or street construction were completely protected by large barriers to ensure that the tree and the soil around the tree would not be disturbed. Protecting trees in such a way in Saskatoon was a rare sight back then. The irony of it was that the ample rain and warm weather of the West Coast grew trees to a size in 10 years that would take more than 50 years to reach on the Prairies. Thank goodness things have changed since then and we now have bylaws in place to protect our urban trees. In 2020, the Government of Saskatchewan declared the last week of May to be Arbor Week. This year, Arbor Week occurs from May 26 to June 1. Following are some of the events happening in Saskatoon during Arbor Week, 2024.

SOS Trees Coalition has put together an exciting week of events: all the details can be found at This year’s theme for Arbor Week in Saskatoon is “Homegrown Resilience”. Tree planting, tours, talks, films and poetry are all part of the events.

The week will kick off with a community tree-planting activity led by SOS Trees members and students from St. Francis Cree School. Everyone is welcome to come and help plant a naturalized tree and shrub forest at 2506 Macpherson Avenue on Friday, May 24th. Another public work event will take place later in the week on Thursday, May 30th when Meewasin’s resource team will lead the public in wrapping trees along the riverbank with wire fencing to protect special trees from beaver damage.

Throughout Arbor week, guided public tours of some of the best tree sanctuaries within the city of Saskatoon are planned. The University of Saskatchewan’s Patterson Garden Arboretum guided tour will be held on Wednesday, May 29th beginning at 3 p.m. Later on in the evening of that same day, the Friends of Saskatoon Afforestation Areas Inc. will be leading a Tree-athlon at George Genereux Urban Regional Park. On Friday evening (May 31) the Friends of Saskatoon Afforestation Areas Inc. will lead another tour and immersive experience through the 326 acre Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation area on the western edge of Saskatoon.

If you are unable to attend the scheduled guided tours, SOS Trees has put together a QR Code self-guided tree tour in two different locations in the city: Meewasin Park North and Thornton Park. The guided interpretive walk will provide audio, via your cell phone, with information about specific trees and how they contribute to a healthy ecosystem. This audio-guided walk will only be available during Arbor week.

In addition to the tree tours, there are several opportunities during the week to hear presentations from writers, experts and naturalists talk about how trees benefit human health and inspire us as humans. The Remai Art Gallery is hosting a public film viewing based on the famous book, “The Hidden Life of Trees” by Peter Wohlleben during the evening of May 30th.

One of the events that I am most excited about during Arbor Week is the ‘Twigs and Trees’ contest being held this year. Everyone is invited to nominate their favourite Saskatoon tree. By sending a photo and telling SOS Trees why you love this tree, you will be entered into a contest to win exciting prizes. Unfortunately, we are only allowed to enter one of our favourite trees!

Of course, one of the best ways we can observe Arbor Week is to plant a tree. It is important to plant the right tree in the right place. Join Rick van Duyvendyk on Wednesday, May 22 at 7 p.m. at Dutch Growers as he tours you through the nursery and highlights new and old favourites that are hardy for the Prairies. Take note that this event is being held before Arbor week so that you will be ready to plant the following week. If your yard is full and you have no more room to plant a tree, consider becoming a member of the SOS Trees Coalition ( or making a monetary donation to Meewasin Valley to plant a tree or shrub along the river valley.

Trees provide beauty, homes for many birds and animals, shelter us during strong winds and cool us during the extreme heat of summer. Hopefully, Arbor week 2024 is just the start of a long, respectful and caring relationship between you and the trees.

This column is provided courtesy of the Saskatchewan Perennial Society (SPS; [email protected]). Check our website ( or Facebook page ( for a list of upcoming gardening events.