On March 29, the Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards kicked off 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 a docent 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.
Other highlights of the walk included a three-centuries-old white oak (Quercus alba) that was already a mature tree when Monroe purchased Highlands in 1793, as well as an eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) that is believed to have been growing on the property when Monroe acquired it. The tour concluded with the opportunity to identify a “mystery tree.”
Sharon will reprise the 90-minute Highland walk at 9 a.m. on July 5. Other walks scheduled for this year include McIntire Park at 10 a.m. on May 11 and Pen Park at 10 a.m. on May 24 and again at 11 a.m. on June 15. 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.