On a clear, cold Monday morning in early November, Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards gathered with Virginia Department of Forestry employees and U.Va. students in the APO service organization to plant 16 trees on the front yard of the Forestry Department’s office at the Fontaine Research Park. We are grateful to all the volunteers who worked on this project, particularly VDOF staff who dug holes, helped plant the trees, and carried out other maintenance around the site. We owe special thanks to project leader Barbara White, who received funds from VDOF’s Virginia Trees for Clean Water program to cover the cost of the trees and materials. She and fellow Tree Steward Mark Zollinhoffer traveled to Colesville Nursery in Ashland and Bremo Trees in Fluvanna County to pick up the trees (some in containers and others bare-rooted) before planting day.
Our workdays are always instructive, and this one underscored directly the need for diversity on the VDOF grounds. The 16 new trees—of eight different species—replace oaks that are being devastated by a bacterial leaf scorch. The state forestry team also introduced us to an alternative to the “gator bag,” which sits upright and holds moisture next to the trunk. Called “tree diapers,” the new devices lay flat around the base of the tree and can be covered with mulch and left in place all winter, affording a healthier and more attractive way to provide water to baby trees. In early spring, we will add more trees to VDOF’s front yard, as well as replacements in our original allée along the drive. We will also place trees around the new CATS nursery to grow more shade. Again, we will be planting a variety of native species to add to the arboretum’s diversity, departing from the monoculture of oaks.