Online Classes Have Started!

Kathy Nepote
Emily Ferguson
Trees can be identified by their fall leaf color

After a hiatus due to the pandemic, the Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards has re-initiated its free Tree Basics Public Education program online using ZOOM.

In late October, Tree Steward Emily Ferguson offered a class on how to identify trees in the fall. Participants learned tips and tricks to identify the major woody plant families and species found in Central Blue Ridge forests using the color of their foliage.

Last evening, Tree Steward Kathy Nepote offered a class on the importance of trees to wildlife. In addition to providing a wide variety of habitat, trees are central to a complex food web that includes nuts, berries, leaves, and insects.  All are essential for the survival of our diverse wildlife (fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals, and the insects they feed on).  The session emphasized how vital native plants are to their survival and raised our awareness of the importance of trees, both living and dead, the complex nature of plant and wildlife interactions and pointed out visible signs of wildlife in our environment.

We have a full schedule of new sessions planned for 2021, offered either on weekday evenings or weekends so that all can enjoy them. One of the benefits of offering these sessions online is that there is virtually no limit on the number of those who can participate in these free sessions:

  • Pruning landscape trees, Saturday morning, January 23rd.
  • Winter tree identification, Tuesday evening, February 9th.
  • Select, plant and care for trees, Saturday afternoon, March 20.
  • Identify trees in spring, Tuesday evening, April 13.
  • Identify and control non-native invasive plants, Sunday afternoon, May 23; and
  • Identify trees in summer on Tuesday evening, June 15th.

Visit our website to see when registration opens.

Enhancing the Tree Canopy in Belmont


For the second year in a row, the Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards paired with the Charlottesville Tree Commission to plant trees on private property around the Belmont area. With a generous grant from the Ballyshannon Fund, we acquired 23 trees for the project. On the chilly morning of November 9, five teams of CATS members and Tree Steward trainees, joined by seven members of the Tree Commission, planted the trees at various locations around the neighborhood and advised homeowners on how to maintain them.

The principal objective of these projects is to increase Charlottesville’s tree canopy, which is measured every five years by aerial photography and is on the decline. The city’s tree canopy dropped from 50 percent in 2004 to 45 percent in 2014, and we expect to see a further decrease when the next aerial survey is completed in 2020. Planting trees in the yards of homes and on other private property is critical to reversing this trend. CATS urges people in the community to help us identify other Charlottesville neighborhoods that suffer from a sparse canopy and that could benefit from the environmental and economic advantages of having more trees.

A New Nursery for Our Trees



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.