A Tribute to Our Founders

It could not have been a better day for the cadre of volunteers who recently added 12 trees to the Arboretum at the Virginia Department of Forestry’s headquarters—including a tree honoring the Founders of the Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards.

The November 5 project brought more than a dozen Tree Stewards to the VDOF grounds at the Fontaine Research Park. They were joined by members of the VDOF staff as they planted three Sweetbay Magnolias (Magnolia virginiana), one Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida), two American Yellowwoods (Cladrastis kentukea), one Red Maple (Acer rubrum), one Black Gum (Nyssa sylvatica), one Tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera) and two Hackberries (Celtis occidentalis). A Sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum) was planted earlier.

The healthy young trees had been picked up the day before from Bremo Trees, a wholesale nursery on the banks of the James River in Fluvanna County. “They hardly knew they had been out of the ground when they were planted,” said project leader Barbara White.

Working in teams, the CATS carefully adjusted each planting hole to ensure the right depth for the trees’ root systems, provided ample water as soil was added around the roots, spread a layer of mulch under each newly planted tree (but never against the trunk), and installed wire cages to protect against browsing deer and other hazards.

Planting the Founders’ Tree

The final tree to go into the ground was a stout Hackberry. Planted adjacent to the CATS nursery, it honors the visionary community leaders who established the Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards in 2008. You can find their story here.

The Hackberry is easily identified by its corky bark and is known for its toughness and durability. Each summer, it produces edible, berry-like drupes that mature in the fall and provide food for birds and other wildlife over the winter.

CATS President Rachel Keen said this new addition to the Arboretum promises to be a lasting tribute to those who laid the groundwork for our organization and our ongoing work to foster greater knowledge of trees and to bring more of them into our local landscapes.