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.
In October, the Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards celebrated the completion of our new tree nursery on the grounds of the Virginia Department of Forestry at the Fontaine Research Park. This is where CATS will store and care for the trees we make available to the community at our twice-yearly tree sales. (Please mark your calendar for our next sale, May 2, 2020, on the lawn at Stonefield.) Surrounded by 220 feet of deer fencing, the facility is the result of a months-long design and assembly process carried out by more than 20 Tree Steward volunteers. Robin Hanes, who coordinated the project, expressed special thanks to Phil Stokes for mapping out the nursery’s specifications and for acquiring a fencing system that would meet our needs. She also gave a hearty shout out to Allen Ingling and Kathy Nepote for their leadership in the construction effort and for providing some of the nursery’s essential features, such as a gate that affords truck access and a large bin for storing potting soil. On the day of the move, CATS volunteers loaded up some 300 plants and hefty storage frames and transported them from our previous location at Grand View Nursery, owned by longtime Tree Steward Jay Gillenwater. We are all grateful to Jay for giving our trees a home for the past eight years, and we look forward to nurturing our young specimens at this new location.
Braving the fall chill on November 2, a volunteer team that included 20 U.Va. students, 10 CATS members, and 7 Tree Steward trainees took part in our annual workday at the Grove, a section of East McIntire Park where we have placed a variety of trees. Under project director Robin Hanes, the crew cleared the plantings of weeds, nourished them with healthy doses of compost from Panorama Farms, and blanketed them with a fresh layer of mulch. In addition to enhancing a special landscape in our community, this work will help our trees withstand whatever’s thrown at them by this coming winter.