A Walk Through Living History at Highland

On December 6, the Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards completed this year’s series of tree walks with a tour of the grounds of James Monroe’s Highland. Sharon Hiner, who is both a Tree Steward and an interpreter at Monroe’s Albemarle County home, blended the historical with the botanical as she led participants around the property.

Along the route, she pointed out ways to identify some of the stunning specimens on the site, from a sugar maple (Acer saccharum) – rare in our area – to one of the estate’s signature white ashes (Fraxinus americana). Highland was known as Ash Lawn through much of its post-Monroe era.  In this winter walk, Sharon concentrated on the structure of the trees, as well as bark, buds, nuts, and cones for identification clues.

Other highlights of the walk included a three-centuries-old white oak (Quercus alba) that was already a mature tree when Monroe purchased Highland in 1793, as well as an eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) that also dates back to the Monroe era. The tour concluded with the opportunity to identify a “mystery tree.”

Sharon will reprise the 90-minute Highland walk in April and November 2020.  Other walks scheduled for 2020 will be held at McIntire Park, Pen Park, and Darden Towe Park. The tree walks are free and open to the public, but they are limited to 25 participants and registration is required. Please visit our classes and walks webpage to learn more.

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