Students plant a kapok tree at Phipps Ocean Park for Arbor Day

Donning gray work gloves and yellow hard hats, local elementary school students helped celebrate Florida Arbor Day Thursday morning by planting a kapok tree at Phipps Ocean Park in Palm Beach.

” This is a difficult work. But it’s really good to plant a tree,” said Ryder Lazzaro, a ninth grader at Palm Beach Day Academy.

PHOTOS: Arbor Day at Phipps Ocean Park

The 13-foot-tall seedling, planted just east of the Little Red Schoolhouse in the park south of Sloane’s Curve, could grow over 100 feet tall and live for over 200 years.

Caleb Lazzara, 6, center, touches the protective spikes growing on the trunk of a young kapok tree Thursday at Phipps Ocean Park.

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Fast-growing trees, like the one in Lake Trail on the Poinciana Chapel Royal grounds, are known for their lush canopies and thick roots.

Protective spikes grow from the trunk of a young kapok tree, which was planted Thursday at Phipps Ocean Park in a ceremony hosted by the Garden Club of Palm Beach.

The Garden Club of Palm Beach hosted the annual event, which was smaller this year due to the pandemic, Garden Club President Mary Pressly said.

“We hope to inspire students to help their community. Planting trees and watching them grow can motivate them to get into fields like conservation and botany,” said Pressly, who was among about 40 other city officials, club members and students who gathered. under a cloudy sky for the event.

While the national Arbor Day celebration is in April, Florida and other states celebrate the day to reflect their best planting time. California celebrates March 7; New Hampshire on the last Friday in April and Louisiana on January 23.

The seedling was grown from a 100-year-old kapok growing in Midtown. The tree was selected, germinated and nurtured by Palm Beach Town arborist Richard Maxwell.

“I am impressed by the massiveness of the kapok trees,” Maxwell said.

The Garden Club is known for many other civic projects: trees in Bradley Park, plants in the median of Royal Palm Way, plants at Mar-a-Lago roundabout, maintenance of the demonstration garden at the Four Arts Society and the Worth Avenue Living Wall.

“The Garden Club is very generous to the city,” said Mayor Gail Coniglio.

Last year’s annual tree planting took place in Bradley Park, where around 40 trees, such as plum and lignum vitae, were planted during Garden Club events.

Phipps Park was selected this year to give these trees enough room to grow.

“Awnings are getting more and more crowded,” Maxwell said.

Among those present was Mimi McMakin with her 18-month-old granddaughter, Daisy Kemble du Plessis.

Charlie Siegrist, 6, and Caleb Lazzara, 6, touch the trunk of a young kapok tree, which weighs about 200 pounds, while Daisy Kemble du Plessis, 16 months, adds soil to the base of the tree.

The Palm Beach resident said her grandfather, Sydney, attended the Little Red Schoolhouse built in 1886 in Phipps Park. It was the first school in Southeast Florida.

His great-grandfather, Henry Maddock, was the original owner of Duck’s Nest, a two-story lakefront home on Maddock Way that is Palm Beach’s second oldest home.

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“It’s great to help plant a tree and be a part of Palm Beach history,” McMakin said, noting that the Red Schoolhouse was originally a mile south of the Royal Poinciana Bridge on Lake Trail.

The school was moved to Phipps Park and renovated in 1960 and is now a Palm Beach County landmark.

Harold B. McConnell