Arbor Day Society Hoax

My original message to the Arbor Day people upon receiving a set of trees that’s totally unsuitable for our growing conditions. 

A message was submitted from on 3/21/08 at 04:14 PM.
Subject: Trees You Shipped Us

I just got the “Ten Autumn Classics” and I have to tell yout hat these really aren’t suitable trees for my area at all.  Do any ofyou know anything about North Texas *at all*?  I can’t imagine that you do or you wouldn’t have sent these particular trees to us.I live in North Texas which is widely known for the heavy black alkaline clay soils.  The rain from Tuesday just drained away and it’s Friday now.  Soil pH here is usually right around 7.5, which is a bit too high for most of the acid lovers you sent us.  Nor am I able to amend the soil for a plant as large as a tree.

Five of the seven species of trees that you shipped us need acidic soils, which we do not have.  You also shipped us a Silver Maple, which is known for losing large limbs during storms.  We routinely see straight line winds here of 60MPH or better.  Wind damage to structures here is a common occurrence. I’ve seen the roof peeled off a Wal-Mart by the wind.

If I had to pick 10 trees to send to this part of Texas it would be from this list: Thornless Honey Locust, Bald Cypress, Kentucy Coffee Tree,Sargent Crabapple, Lacebark Elm, Shellbark Hickory, Burr Oak (a native plant here), Shumard Oak (which is also a native plant), BlackhawViburnum (which is another native).If it’s at all possible, I’d like to exchange the trees that you’ve sent us for some that will grow better here.  I’d like to swap them for the items on the list above.  The items on my list are less expensive, according to your store, than the items you sent, and they’re much better suited to the soil here.  If this is acceptable, please let me know. I’m sorry for any inconvenience, but my husband ordered these without consulting me.  He assumed that since you asked for our zip code that you’d send trees that were suitable for our growing conditions.

The first fairly polite and reasonable reply….

Dear XXXX,

Thanks for writing. We don’t have an account under the name and
that you provided in your email. Is it under a different name, or do
have your membership number?


Carla Tisdale
Arbor Day Foundation
Member Services
211 N 12th St
Lincoln, NE 68508

The polite follow up, go stuff yourself reply, accompanied by a long list of trees that still won’t grow in our area.  I swear customer service people are smoking crack now days.  I asked a fairly simple yes or no question to which I get this response. 

Your husband chose that particular package when he joined online.  (Yes, I know…I told you that in the first message) The
exact trees that are in each package are listed when you click on them
with your cursor. The packages are offered according to hardiness zone.
They may not necessarily reflect the best choice for your soil type and
other factors, but we do list information like that about each tree in
our online Tree Store and Tree Guide.
  (And the Arbor Day Society isn’t going to send me trees that will grow where I live…Are you run by Aggies???  The level of irony is astounding.)

The other packages that are offered to your zip code are the following:

10 Flowering Trees

10 Trees Mix

10 Wild Bird Garden

10 Eastern Redcedars

10 River Birches

10 Oak Trees

10 Live Oaks

10 Bald Cypresses

10 White Dogwoods

10 Autumn Classics

No Trees

10 Flowering Trees


(Without going into details, the Bald Cypress and Easter Red Cedars are the only things that will grow where I live.  Everyone is allergic to Eastern Red Cedar.  Most soil here is contaminated with a tree disease called Live Oak Decline that kills Live Oaks. I don’t want 10 Bald Cypress because they require a lot of water and we’re trying to be sure Xeriscape .  Apparently the Arbor Day Society doesn’t care about the environment either.)

The contents of the mixed packages are listed to the right when you select them.

If you want to receive a replacement package, you will need to pay
$3.50 shipping and handling. You can call and pay the shipping over the
phone with a credit card by calling 1-888-448-7337 (8am-5pm CST,
Mon-Fri). If you would rather mail a check, The Arbor Day Foundation’s
address is:

Arbor Day Foundation

211 North 12th Street

Lincoln, NE  68508

Please let me know if you have any other questions.


Carla Tisdale

Arbor Day Foundation

Member Services

211 N 12th St

Lincoln, NE 68508



I’m afraid I lost my temper with the absolute obtuseness of the reply.  Stupid people annoy me more than anything else.  I asked a very plain question.  Can I send these trees back and exchange them for some that grow better?  I make sure to pick through their catalog and pick out trees that cost *less* than the ones they originally sent me.  Surely having a nice healthy tree is important to everyone.  Apparently not to the Arbor Day Society.  I got snippy in my response.

I was operating under the assumption that you’d like to send people
trees that would actually grow where they live.  You do ask for the zip
code after all.  My husband was under the impression that since you
asked for our zip code that you would be sending appropriate trees for
over all growing conditions, not just USDA Hardiness Zones.  We’ll keep
the trees that we have and make note not to order anything else from
you.  I’ll also be sure to let everyone know that you’re in the
business of selling trees.  I suppose if the tree dies, it will have to
be replaced resulting in an additional purchase of a tree from you. 
What a fine business you’re in.  Pretending to be a charity that interested in getting people to grow trees when in fact all you are is
just another crappy on line “we’ll send you some sticks” nursery

I’ll be posting some photos soon so that you can see the “sticks” that they sent us.  It takes a *lot* of nerve to call these things trees.  My 12″ ruler is longer than my so-called trees including the roots. 


5 thoughts on “Arbor Day Society Hoax

  1. Hello and thank you for visiting.. (Blue man group) My trees were okay, but my friend planted them, not sure how well they are doing. I am curious.. Do you have a favorite Linux? I would pick Ubuntu studio for recording with, and Fedora for stability, Knoppix live just because it always works. Have a good day, G

  2. That does sound like a frustrating tale!RYC–although I see cows and tractor tracks, I’ve yet to see a farmer! I know that farmers have found things because I’ve heard stories and seen the coins and Roman things they’ve found in local museums. Thanks for stopping by my site!

  3. i’ve heard the trees are tiny from arbor day. I hope they were inexpensive. we sometimes pick up trees locally at walmart or lowes and home depot etc on clearance. i want to grow some apple trees but have been unsuccessful over the last 5 years. We have had a lot of success with one dwarf black cherry – it’s huge already 17-20 ft… and a nice bosc pear tree too. but the apples are a big disappointment- always diseased, or the deer eat them etc.

  4. Dear Ann,
    We sell people the trees that they select to purchase. People buy trees that they are planting in other locations, and even other states, on a regular basis. We would upset quite a few people if we changed their orders for them under the assumption that they did not know any better when selecting those trees.
    We do guarantee the trees for the first year provided they were planted according to the instructions and did not die as the result of factors beyond our control (i.e. eaten by deer, planted in pots, over-fertilized, hit by lawnmower, not watered, or because the package was ordered by mistake).
    I apologize that your husband ordered the wrong package, but we cannot change peoples’ orders for them, not knowing what their plans are for the trees.
    Arbor Day Foundation
    Member Services
    P.S. Please remove our representative’s name from your blog.

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