Give a Tree Book for the Holidays

books on shelf arranged to be a treeThe Christmas/Hanukah season has a strong connection to trees. Buying a stately Fraser fir or setting up the synthetic Christmas tree is standard operating procedure for many families at this time of year. Although it is less likely now, dreidels used to be made out of wood, as were many toys of the past. And how about “Over the river and through the WOODS to Grandmothers house we go?” Trees galore! So, how about a book on trees for the holidays, especially for someone who is beginning their journey into the natural world or on the other end of the spectrum for someone who has a deep interest and can’t get enough information? Here are a few Tree Stewards favorites to consider for the newbie tree aficionado or the seasoned veteran on your list.

Sibley bookThe all time go to book for tree lovers is “The Sibley Guide to Trees” by David Allen Sibley.  Sibley is best known for his books on birds and to help bird watchers he decided to write and illustrate a book on trees.  The book has become a classic.  Full of illustrations of trees, leaves. and fruit, it can help you identify many species both in the winter and the summer.

Nora Palmatier, TreeSteward’s president likes “Manual of Woody Landscape Plants: Their Identification, Ornamental Characteristics, Culture, Propogation and Uses” by Michael Dirr.  This is Nora’s go to book because it has information about every common tree and most of their cultivars.  Details that are hard to remember are what it specializes in: rate of growth, diseases and Insects, size, hardiness etc.  This is one tomb of a book (1330 pages), definitely for the serious tree student. If you are thinking of this, be sure and get the hard back copy if you go that route. The paperback copy is not as hardy (no pun intended) and if used too much will fall apart. It is now available on iPads but not on Kindles.

PeppermintWhat about for kids? There are many books introducing children to our natural world and listing all the books would be a book in itself. For something different Rod Simmons, Alexandria’s Natural Resource Specialist, suggests a lovely brand new children’s book, “Isabella’s Peppermint Flowers”. Young readers can learn about Virginia’s colonial history as well as key aspects of botany. The book is available from http://www.floraforkids.org/. All profits will be donated by the author, Susan Leopold, to the Flora of Virginia Project

Locally we are very fortunate to have another newly published book “Field Guide to the Natural World of Washington D.C.” by Howard Youth. This is a beautiful book that not only shares information on local trees but wildlife (from the lowly earthworm to raccoons and deer), plants (even mushrooms) and birds. The book is beautifully illustrated with gorgeous prints that are frame worthy.

Native treesAnother one of our Tree Stewards, Bonnie Petrie, claims her favorite tree book is “Native Trees for North American Landscapes” by Guy Sternberg and Jim Wilson.  According to Bonnie the pictures in this book are “simply gorgeous”.  For someone who is simply seeking to satisfy curiosity that arises during a hike, this book is a winner.

And lastly if you’re looking for inspiration, try Dr. Seuss’s “The Lorax.” Beth Bosecker (a 2014 Tree Stewards graduate) has a favorite quote from the book: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” This book inspired her when she was young to keep up her interest in nature and trees and it helped in her decision as a young person to move forward in her career as an environmental scientist, a master naturalist, and a tree steward.

The Lorax is an inspiration for all tree lovers

The Lorax is an inspiration for all tree lovers

Hope this scratches an itch and just so you know, I found all these books on either Amazon or ABE books.  Many, if not most, are available digitally as well.

Happy Reading,

TreeSteward Eileen Grant

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Christmas Tree Choices: Living, Cut, or Artificial

After 50 years of reuse and recycling, this artificial tree is green!

‘Tis the season in which many believe the holidays would not be complete without a decorated tree. For those who care about their own environmental impact, the good news is you can follow your traditional celebration with a clear conscious! Just remember the environmental golden rule to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle whatever your choice. Below are points to consider:

Artificial Trees create a larger carbon imprint at the beginning, yet with yearly reuse and not purchasing new models, this can be spread out over a long time.  The tree to the left is basically a wooden pole with green wire bristles from 1960 – so old it is now chic, and holds 50 years of family history. Continue reading

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Continuing Care and ID at Four Mile Run Park

volunteers at hawthorn

Deer guards were wrapped around the trunk of this Hawthorne

Just like human babies, newly planted trees need ongoing care and protection. In April 2013, TreeStewards and Casey Trees planted twenty-five young trees in Four Mile Run Park off Mt. Vernon Avenue.  And over the last two summers, TreeSteward Kurt Moser has filled the water bags as needed and watched over them.  The Hackberry, Redbuds, Hawthorn, Yellowoods, Kentucky Coffeetree, Swamp white oaks, London Plane tree, and American Elm are all doing well and show new growth. Unfortunately the hophornbeam planted closest to the path fatally attracted deer last winter that used the trunks as rubbing posts. Something had to be done to protect the remaining trees!

DSC03518At the fall workday of November 2, TreeStewards removed the summer’s watering bags for winter storage, examined each tree to ensure no trunk damage and wrapped each trunk loosely with a stiff plastic deer guard. Now deer will come in contact with the plastic and not the sensitive bark, we are hoping. The tree guards cost about five dollars each, less than 1% of the value of the trees worth in benefits from clean air and stormwater management so we know it is worth the attempt.

wire cutting into tree trunk

An example of bad staking that used wire: this tree’s trunk will never recover. (TS did not plant this one!)

Note in the photo that these trees were staked although best practice is to allow young trunks to strengthen as they sway with the wind. Also note the ties between trunk and stake is loose to allow this movement. In this particular location, strong winds can blow young trees over before they have established structural roots so staking is necessary the first year. And stakes continue to provide protection from the human element: mowers, weed wackers, dogs, stray soccer balls. What is vitally important is that wires and ties are removed from trunks before they can damage it! These trees are regularly checked and the ties removed as needed.

The trees are beside Alexandria’s Sunday morning Farmers & Artisans Market, and border a popular walking path so it is the ideal place for outdoor education. Eleven tree identification signs were loosely hung on a sample of each species while the remaining fourteen have none. Test your winter tree ID skills by visiting the site and examining the Acer rubra sign – then find the other Red Maple. Then revisit next summer to test your leaf identification skills. Hint: not every species has two specimens and some have more.

ID sign of hawthorne

ID signage was attached loosely around the branch. Park maintenance preferred this method to signage in the ground.

TreeStewards will be holding tree identification walks in the area through the seasons.

Posted in Community Service, Tree Care | Tagged , ,

Reforesting Post Derecho in Alexandria

Eager recipients came at sunrise to adopt their tree and plant it by noon!

Eager recipients came at sunrise to adopt their tree and plant it by noon!

On Saturday October 18th, Alexandria City saw its first FREE tree give away.  Sponsored by TreeStewards and funded by a grant from ACTrees and CSX, 150 native trees were distributed free of charge to Alexandria City residents.

 

Education and registration for tree care updates was provided at our tent.

Education and registration for tree care updates was provided at our tent.

 

 

Many of the respondents  recounted how the Derecho of June 2012 had destroyed many of the trees in their neighborhoods. Some neighborhoods saw whole groves felled by trees falling on each other like dominos. Each recipient was personally advised by one of the TreeSteward volunteers on how to plant and they were given a copy of The Tree Owners Manual, available through this website if you click on the tab Tree Care at the top of screen.

 

TreeSteward volunteer assisting in selecting the right tree for the right place.

TreeSteward volunteer assisting in selecting the right tree for the right place.

Residents happily claimed their choice of Chestnut, Swamp White or Red Oak, as well as Black Gum, Persimmon, Witch Hazel and Hackberry.   Under story favorites such as Redbud, Dogwood, River Birch and Magnolia were also in high demand.  All trees came from the Octoraro Native Plant Nursery of Lancaster Pennsylvania.

 

Creative packaging so that only one trip per neighborhood was needed.

Creative packaging so that only one trip per neighborhood was needed.

Our fearless tree packing crew managed to get trees into all sorts of vehicles, from the mundane pickup truck to the sporty hatchback. No one left without their tree.

 

Neighbor Woods volunteer

TreeSteward volunteers at Neighbor Woods event give thanks to CSX

The Alliance for Community Trees (ACTrees) is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the health and livability of cities by planting and caring for trees. CSX Corporation is one of the nation’s leading transportation companies, providing rail, intermodal and rail-to-truck transload services.CSX Giveaway Grants funded tree giveaways throughout the nation during National NeighborWoods® Month which was held in October of this year.

child with tree

Selecting which tree to adopt can be complicated.

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Joyeous Tree Adoptions!

Adopting a tree into the family!

Adopting a tree into the family!

Checking in and picing up education material

Checking in and picing up education material

Demonstrating how to plant

Demonstrating how to plant

Education was provided on protecting tree from soccer balls!

Education was provided on protecting tree from soccer balls!

Over 400 tree whips were adopted in Arlington on October 4, 2014 with the assistance of TreeSteward volunteers.

Each adoptive family received a Tree Owners Manual as well as individualized education from a TreeSteward on selecting, planting and maintaining the tree.

A few of the TS educators with County Landscape Supervisor Patrick Wegeng

A few of the TS educators with County Landscape Supervisor Patrick Wegeng

Helping select an Eastern Redbud

Helping select an Eastern Redbud

Taking a Sweetbay Magnolia home

Taking a Sweetbay Magnolia home

Tree going home in a bicycle wagon.

Tree going home in a bicycle wagon.

Going home with a tree and the Owners Manual on care.

Going home with a tree and the Owners Manual on care.

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Native Trees Available for Arlington Yards

TreeStewards will be at the nursery to provide education

TreeStewards will be at the nursery to provide education

Choose the best native tree for your Arlington yard with the help of TreeStewards this fall. Arlington County’s Natural Resources Division is providing a variety of native tree species and one would be perfect for your yard. Among the different species offered this year are Eastern redbud, Blackhaw viburnum, Staghorn Sumack, American Hophornbeam, Hackberry, and American Sycamore. The trees being distributed are generally termed “whips” in the nursery trade and are in two-gallon containers – you can carry them and they will fit in your car. Tree height varies with species but generally ranges between two to four feet. Because we want as many people as possible to get a tree, only one tree per household.

Not sure which one is best for your yard? Are you with a condo or HOA desiring more than one tree?  We can provide additional help if you contact us at info@TreeStewards.org. Then you register your selection on line at link below. You pick up the tree whip on Saturday, October 4. TreeSteward volunteers will be on site providing additional information to ensure you plant and maintain your tree the best way.

This year, the distribution event takes place Saturday, October 4 at the Arlington County nursery facility from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. The nursery is located in South Arlington on South Four Mile Run, behind Barcroft Field #6. Parking is available within the parking lot in front of the ball field. All participants are asked to walk to the nursery to pick up their tree.

All trees not picked up by 3 PM are open to adoption, so if your favorite is SOLD OUT, drop by at 3PM and see if one is available.

Click this link or paste in your browser: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/tree-distribution-program-2014-tickets-12933336959

Posted in Community Service, Education | Tagged , ,