1/23 GALLERY: A labor of love

From left, Charles Leaks, Jimmy Michener and Willie Jones of the City of Palmetto Parks Department water a just-planted Heritage live oak tree Friday at Hidden Lake Park after a Florida Arbor Day celebration attended by city and local officials. It’s a labor of love for the trio of workers, who tend to think of the fledgling trees in their care as part of their family -- and it’s a big family! In the last decade or so, their department has helped plant more than 2,000 trees, 200 of which are located within the city limits. Until this young oak gets established, it will be carefully hand-watered up to three times a week in regular visits from the city’s 5,000-gallon watering truck. When it’s fully grown, it will stand about 60 feet tall and its branches will extend 30 feet in any direction from this tiny trunk. We’ll all be long gone by then, but our children’s children may be able to reap the benefits of today’s careful planning and hard work -- part of what has helped the City of Palmetto earn its designation as a Tree City USA, along with the cities of Bradenton, Bradenton Beach, Holmes Beach, Anna Maria and Sarasota.