Although the CATS Spring Tree Sale had to be cancelled this year due to COVID-19, we continue to build our stock of trees for future sales. On March 26, a team of 11 CATS volunteers kept a safe distance from one another as they potted 358 young trees and added them to our nursery on the grounds at the Virginia Department of Forestry. Many thanks go out to Allen Ingling, who assembled the potting soil; Mark Zollinhofer, who built new frames and refurbished old ones for storing our trees; and Carol Wise and Nancy Weiss, who donated yellow buckeyes to the inventory. We look forward to sharing these trees with the community in the months ahead.
On March 24, a small but efficient cadre of Tree Stewards and Virginia Department of Forestry staff added nine trees to the arboretum at VDOF’s headquarters in the Fontaine Research Park. Among them were two pecans, a shagbark hickory, two sugar maples, two persimmons, a bald cypress and a sourwood. Tree stewards Kathy Nepote and Allen Ingling led the effort and modeled best practices as they placed each tree in the ground. Among other things, they
- ensured that the planting hole was the correct depth to keep the tree’s root collar right at the surface,
- untangled matted and encircling roots as they removed the tree from its container,
- doused the roots with a slurry of soil and water midway through the planting,
- added another healthy dose of water when the planting was completed,
- placed mulch over the planting hole while keeping it away from the tree trunk, and
- installed a wire cage to protect the tree from deer and other browsers.
Allen cleverly used a stump grinder to dig the bowl-shaped planting holes in advance, guaranteeing that they were at the appropriate depth and turning the soil to a fine consistency. That made the planting of the trees easier and more effective.
The Tree Stewards wrapped up the winter season with a wide range of projects across our area.
In the Grove: On February 29, U.Va. students from the APO service organization and Madison House joined CATS volunteers at The Grove at McIntire Park. In addition to caring for young trees we have planted there in recent years, the crew created and mulched new trails and cleared out vines that were smothering older trees. The CATS team also took down an invasive “tree of heaven” (Ailanthus altissima) hiding in the overgrowth.
Back to School: On March 3, CATS volunteers returned to Jackson-Via Elementary School, where we have led an effort to clean up an overgrown hillside near the school’s playground and garden. The site has now been cleared of invasive species and debris and is ready to be re-planted with an appropriate mix of trees and shrubs.
More Parkway Pruning: Later that week, on March 7, the CATS pruning team went back to work along the John W. Warner Parkway, making judicious cuts that will help keep the roadway’s young trees healthy and attractive over time.
Tree Care at VDOF: Good social distancing practices were maintained when CATS pruners gathered March 12 for a workday at the Virginia Department of Forestry’s facility in the Fontaine Research Park. They trimmed up trees all around the VDOF grounds, including trees in the Arboretum that CATS established on the site. Tree Stewards Barbara White, Allen Ingling and Kathy Nepote carried out the job.
Return to Pleasant Grove: For our final winter workday on March 18, CATS volunteers returned to Pleasant Grove Park in Fluvanna County. They continued to provide basic care for hundreds of trees planted over the past five years along the border of meadows maintained for wildlife and wildflowers. Tree Stewards Allen Ingling, Toine Wyckoff, Walter Hussey and Kathy Nepote made up the team.