The greener good: Purchase a tree as a tribute

The greener good: Purchase a tree as a tribute

South Whidbey’s Earth Sanctuary is offering a ripe opportunity.

If a gravestone does not seem like a lasting tribute to a friend or family member, then consider a tree.

Branching off from the normal traditions of memorializing a loved one, South Whidbey’s Earth Sanctuary is offering a ripe opportunity. The 3-in-1 nature preserve, sculpture garden and retreat center near Langley began allowing people in January the chance to purchase a tree in honor of someone special.

Chuck Pettis, the owner and founder of the 72 acres of wilderness and sculpture garden, started the Memorial Tree program this year after several people asked him about planting a tree to remember someone.

“I can tell it means a lot to people,” he said. “Not everyone wants to be in a cemetery and have a tombstone.”

The program also aligns with Pettis’ 500-year plan to restore the landscape’s old growth forest, wetlands and streams, providing the optimal habitat for the greatest possible diversity of bird and animal species native to Whidbey.

It may seem like an ambitious plan, but over 15,000 plants have already been planted, including 80 native species — although non-native plants have also been added.

And over 3,250 trees have been planted.

Pettis has difficulty picking a favorite type of tree, but lists spruces, western white pines, redwoods and sequoias as a few of his preferences.

“I love big trees,” he said.

From May to July, Earth Sanctuary experienced a 44 percent increase in visitors.

“We certainly aren’t Disneyland, but we’re doing a spiritual service,” Pettis said.

Seattle resident Erin Osborne helped raise $4,000 this year to plant two trees honoring a childhood friend who passed away in 2019.

She said she had been looking for a fitting way to honor her friend, something that was permanent and meaningful without feeling contrived.

The start of the Memorial Tree program coincided with the anniversary of the death of Osborne’s friend, and it felt like the perfect concept.

“It’s for the greater good,” she said. “It’s what we all need to be thinking about right now, climate change and making the world a better place.”

With the additional money raised, a bench will be installed near the two sitka spruces.

And in this forest, trees are not just for those who have passed away.

“I personally like the idea of getting a tree for a young person,” Pettis said.

He has trees dedicated to several of his family members, many who are still among the living.

Pettis plants trees in the winter. A newly planted Memorial Tree costs between $750 and $1,500, depending on its location in Earth Sanctuary.

Pettis explained that the cost goes toward the upkeep of the tree, which needs excessive watering and monitoring during the first few years of its life.

A tree that has already been planted costs $500. Markers are placed discreetly near the trees. So far, the forest has 10 Memorial Trees.

For a low-cost alternative, people can donate up to $50, which will help plant conifers and other trees in the red alder forest.

Those contributions will earn donors a name on the sign in the red alder forest.

n To find out more about planting or purchasing a Memorial Tree, visit earthsanctuary.org

More in Life

Photo by Emily Gilbert/Whidbey News-Times
Oak Harbor couple to celebrate 70th anniversary

The longtime Whidbey residents first met in 1950.

Photo by Emily Gilbert/Whidbey News-Times
Kathy Hawn has had a police scanner for most of her life. She’s gained a following on Facebook for posting what she hears called over the radio.
Woman listens to police scanner so you don’t have to

Kathy Hawn posts all 911 emergency dispatches she hears in her Facebook group, Alert Whidbey 2.0.

Amanda Ferrara poses with ball python Lemon and bearded dragon Drogon. (Photo by Karina Andrew/Whidbey News-Times)
Whidbey woman has warm heart for cold-blooded critters

Amanda Ferrara owns 14 scaly friends of her own, each with its own unique personality.

Photo by Emily Gilbert/Whidbey News-Times
Charlie Kimmel feeds Silkie rooster Beatbox and some of his feathered friends.
Beatbox is a one-rooster welcoming committee

The friendly rooster resides on a North Whidbey farm.

Drea Park and her team train for the upcoming Seventy48 race up Puget Sound. (Photo courtesy of Drea Park)
Island couple to compete in 70-mile race

Drea and Jason Park will canoe from Tacoma to Port Townsend starting Friday, June 4.

Photo provided
New member Charles LaFond works on a pottery creation at Freeland Art Studios.
Cooperative studio in Freeland holding open house

The event runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. this Saturday, June 5.

Photo provided
Rockin’ a Hard Place: A tale about who we are: the life of Chief Charlie Snakelum

In late May, many of us on the Rock enjoy celebrating Whidbey’s… Continue reading

Photo courtesy Laura Thompson
Teen, retriever make top 8 in kennel show

Madison Thompson was one of the youngest competitors in her division of 80 kids.

Photo by Emily Gilbert/Whidbey News-Times
Members of the North Puget Sound Dragon Boat Club launched their 40-foot-long dragon boat at Oak Harbor Marina for the season on Wednesday.
Dragon boats returning to water

After a year off the water, members of the local dragon boating team are looking for new members.

"In the Orchard"
Gallery’s June show to feature work of artist Doug Hansen

The theme for Whidbey Art Gallery’s June show is “Recycle: Vision Out-of-the-box.”

Oak Harbor resident on Dean’s List for Marquette U

Oak Harbor resident CALLIE NUTTALL has been named to the Dean’s List… Continue reading

Collin’s “Beach Patrol” (photo provided)
Collins July’s featured artist at gallery

Penn Cove Gallery is featuring the work of JANIS COLLINS during the… Continue reading