Free tree, grass seedlings at TreeFest is your source for free news and information in the Wilmington area.

Commuters beneath the branches of the aging oak trees on Market Street in Wilmington. File photo by Ben Brown.
Oak trees on Market Street in Wilmington. File photo.

Need or want tree and grass seeds to plant in your yard? The New Hanover County Parks and Gardens Department is sponsoring the annual TreeFest, which offers a variety of seedlings to the public.

This year’s event will be held at the JC Penney <end court>what’s an ‘end court’ inside Independence Mall from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (or until there are no more seedlings left) on Friday, Jan. 22 and Saturday, Jan. 23. A variety of species will be offered, including many that are native to the region. Seedlings for crape myrtle, bald cypress, Atlantic white cedar, persimmon, crabapple and river birch trees will be available, among others. Grass species that will be offered include little bluestem, muhly and Indian grass. Everything will be first come, first served, so availability will differ. A maximum of five trees/grasses will be given to each household.

The plants are grown at the North Carolina Forest Service Nursery in Goldsboro. The seedlings will be wrapped in newspaper and a compostable bag, which can be planted with the tree, then placed in plastic bags for transporting. The trees and grasses should be kept moist and planted as soon as possible, preferably within a few days, as winter is a good time for planting them.

Though TreeFest is free and open to the public, a donation of $3 per household is suggested to help sustain the yearly event. TreeFest was started in 1997 to combat the destruction of the area’s trees after hurricanes Bertha and Fran. More information on the event can be found here.