Trees need lots of things to grow: dirt, water, sunlight. And in the case of now-Governor John Hickenlooper's ambitious plan to plant a million trees in metro Denver by 2025, they also need cold, hard cash. As such, the tree-planting initiative, called The Mile High Million, is hosting its first-ever fundraiser tomorrow at the Denver Botanic Gardens.
Wine & Trees will feature both wine and trees (natch), as well as hors d'oeurvres, live music and games, including "Treepardy Trivia with Alex Treebark," who will be played by Dave Flaig, Littleton's dapper city arborist.
"He's pretty entertaining and has a slight resemblance to Alex Trebek," says Sara Davis, program manager for The Mile High Million. "He is distinguished -- and he'll tell you he has a great crop of newscaster hair."
The Mile High Million developed "Treepardy" and has been hosting it at educational events and celebrations of that sacred tree holiday, Arbor Day. As for the questions, Davis says, "Our arborists write them, so they're kind of obscure some of the time." For example: These weak-wooded, foul-smelling trees are highly invasive and thrive in poor conditions, such as alleys. (Answer: What is the Tree of Heaven, a.k.a. the Ghetto Palm?)
In addition to "Treepardy," city horticulturalists will be on hand to answer partiers' tree-related questions, à la television's The Doctors. "Whenever someone finds out you're a horticulturist at a cocktail party, you get descended upon to diagnose everybody's yard problems," Davis says. "So you'll be able to ask the professionals." The event will also feature a slideshow of tree myths, debunked -- just like the Discovery Channel's MythBusters. "We seem to have a little bit of a TV theme," Davis says.
Since it was created by Hickenlooper 2006, The Mile High Million, a partnership between several metro-area cities and towns, has been funded by corporate donors. Suncor Energy donated $1 million in 2007, Davis says, but the gift was intended to get the program started and will run out in 2012.
"We're looking to get more community members involved," Davis explains.
But by all accounts, the initiative is on the right track. Five years into it, The Mile High Million is nearly a quarter of the way to its goal. As of today, the tree ticker on its website shows 212,774 trees planted -- and counting.
Tickets to Wine & Trees are $50 for singles and $80 for couples. For ticket sales and more information, visit www.milehighmillion.org.
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