On March 19th, a group of hardy CATS volunteers met up at historic Montpelier to perform stewardship work in “The Grove”. This island of specimen trees on Montpelier’s front lawn includes a gorgeous Deodar cedar, a Nordmann fir, an Oriental spruce, and a Norway spruce along with a Chinese chestnut that is close by. We were led by Montpelier’s Curator of Horticulture, Allyson Whalley. The work party included Toine Wykoff, Allen Ingling, Kathy Nepote, Mark Zollinhofer, Kendra Hall, Dana Denbar and Mac Dent.
On Saturday, January 12, 40 people from the Charlottesville area attended a tree identification class and tree walk at the Ivy Creek Natural Area led by Tree Steward Emily Ferguson. Identifying trees in winter can be difficult because many have lost their leaves and leaves are one of the most reliable ways to identify trees. But Emily showed attendees how to use bark, twigs, buds, nuts, seeds, color and other features to decide what tree they were looking at. This class was the first of a series of four tree identification classes that Emily will present this year – one in each season, since the features that make tree identification possible change over the seasons. Check our Take A Class or Tree Walk page for upcoming classes and tree walks led by Emily and other tree stewards and learn more about how trees enrich our lives.
We had twenty-one new graduates from our 2018 Training Class, bringing the number of Tree Stewards in the Charlottesville Area to 150. These dedicated volunteers took on outdoor projects, educational efforts, and public outreach. The Projects Committee undertook thirty work projects this year, up from eighteen in 2017. They planted 131 trees and shrubs at various locations, and 144 ferns in a forest restoration project. They also pulled thousands of feet of invasive vines away from tree trunks on public lands and school grounds. The Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards Grove in McIntire Park was further developed this year with two additional plantings of close to 100 trees and shrubs on the site of the former golf course. CATS volunteers were assisted on several workdays by groups of enthusiastic students from the University of Virginia. We also completed another signature project by replacing nine trees on the Monticello Gateway. This project, initiated by the Charlottesville Tree Commission, undertook to plant native trees along the median of Route 20 on the way to Monticello; a few of the trees planted in 2016 had died and several had been damaged by a vehicle. In 2018 we replaced these trees and look forward to seeing the Gateway trees grow to full size in the coming years.
CATS continues its efforts to educate the public on the environmental benefits of trees by holding an annual training class, and offering various free classes as well as tree identification walks. The walk program started in Fall 2017 and was greatly expanded in 2018 when we offered fourteen walks at various locations, including downtown Charlottesville, James Monroe’s Highland, Riverside Park, McIntire Park, and Ivy Creek. Over three hundred people registered for these popular walks. CATS also held table exhibits at various events, including the Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello.
Since 2013 CATS has held Tree Sales in spring and fall to offer young native trees and shrubs to the public at reasonable prices. The 2018 sales were held at Ix Park in the spring and at Tufton Farm in the fall. The next sale will be at Stonefield mall on May 4, 2019 in conjunction with the Piedmont Master Gardeners’ spring sale.
Tree Stewards held their second sale of the year on October 13 at Tufton Farm in conjunction with the Open House of Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants. We offered a large variety of native trees and shrubs for $5.00 or $10.00. Our volunteers helped customers select the best tree for the varying conditions in their gardens, answered many questions, and gave advice. All in all, nearly three hundred trees and shrubs were moved from the CATS nursery to local properties. The next sale will be on May 4, 2019 at the Shops at Stonefield together with the Spring Sale of the Piedmont Master Gardeners.