"What does he plant who plants a tree? He plants the friend of sun and sky. He plants the flag of breezes free, the shaft of beauty and towering high." - Henry Cuyler Bunner.

Gov. Norm Bangerter has proclaimed Friday, April 26, as Arbor Day in Utah. While Arbor Day is no longer a state holiday, it has taken on a new and important meaning as we work toward a better world with a better environment. Arbor Day was officially started in Nebraska in 1874 and spread throughout the nation. Few, if any, have not attended a school, Boy Scout or similar Arbor Day tree planting.Planting trees is an important way to improve the environment and make our surroundings more pleasant. There is good and bad in all areas of our lives, and good and bad - or perhaps more accurately more desirable and less desirable - trees. Trees appreciate in value with time. A tree purchased for $20 this year is worth several hundred dollars after a few years of growth. This is providing the right tree was selected and planted in the right location. The wrong tree in the wrong location or even a good tree - if it's improperly planted - can become a liability. A desirable tree worth several hundred dollars may be a liability of several thousand dollars. It is expensive to pay a professional to remove trees, or they may cause damage to people, homes or other structures.

I am often asked how to select a perfect tree. Just as there are no perfect people, there are also no perfect trees. All trees are subject to pests and problems, but care should be taken to avoid those with serious, life-threatening problems. Avoid trees that do not do well in our area because of the soil type or climate. Avoid trees with weak wood, those that produce abundant sprouts or surface roots and those that produce woody seeds or that attract insects.

The chart at right lists selected trees that do well under Utah conditions. These are not the only trees that grow well. Formal trees are symmetrical, while informal trees have an irregular growth habit. The ultimate size and spread of a tree is one of the most important criteria in selecting a suitable tree space.

Tree removal or death is often the result of improper placement. Measure the allotted space and determine if the tree will grow to its mature height and spread in that space. Pruning large shade trees is not a job for homeowners and is expensive to hire done. Consider the overhead hazard including buildings and utilities and underground hazards of pipes and wires. Additional interferences include driveways and sidewalks. Sycamores, poplars, silver maples and other trees with large trunks have no place in narrow parking strips. Consider the proximity to buildings. Blue spruces, for example, grow 80 feet tall and spread 40 feet. They are not a good choice to plant next to a front porch.

Each year brings new and improved varieties of shade trees. Check with your local nursery for varieties suited to your growing conditions. Additional information on selecting shade trees is available at Utah State University extension offices throughout the state. The book, "Ornamental Shade Trees for Utah" is available at all extension offices as well as libraries throughout the state. It gives ultimate size, shape, growing conditions and potential problems for more than 100 different trees adapted to our site.

- FRIDAY, APRIL 26, 10 a.m., This is the Place Monument, Pioneer Trail State Park. Statewide Arbor Day Celebration.

- SATURDAY, APRIL 27, 1 p.m. 4th Ave. and N Street, Salt Lake City Cemetery. A joint effort of tree Utah, the Greater Avenues Community Council and Salt Lake Urban Forestry Board.

- AFRICAN VIOLET SOCIETY OF UTAH annual show and sale: Saturday, May 4, 1991, 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, May 5, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Garden Center Activity Building, 1602 E. 2100 South, Salt Lake City. Admission is free.