Digging This Spring

Press Photos (4)

Volunteers from INTUS Windows add soil around a White oak tree they planted in Alexandria’s Ben Brenman Park on April 5 with guidance from Tree Stewards of Arlington and Alexandria. From left are Jim McGorty, Karina Sicherle, Olena Prykhodko, and Connor McGorty. Photo by Sean O’Rourke for INTUS Windows.


Pre-schoolers from the Children’s International School in Rosslyn joined their parents and grandparents Sunday, April 29, in planting 32 trees in a previously weedy area along the southbound George Washington Memorial Parkway ramp to Key Bridge. Volunteers from Tree Stewards of Arlington and Alexandria, who already had planted 80 trees and shrubs in Alexandria in April, guided them, along with arborists from the National Park Service and Arlington County.

The planting, designed to enhance the atmosphere for commuters crossing Key Bridge between Rossyln and Georgetown, is the pre-school’s community service project and was joined by three other Children’s International Schools in Arlington to help the environment.

Tree Stewards Naomi Peña and Kate Donohue worked last fall with Colin Davis of the parkway staff to clear the area of invasive plants such as bush honeysuckle and English ivy. Then Peña looked for a sponsor to pay for the new trees. Officials at the Rosslyn Business Improvement District suggested she ask the Children’s International School, and the pre-school and its parents accepted the challenge. After that, the planting and design had to be approved by the National Park Service, which occurred earlier this month.

The youngsters and their parents, along with Arlington Coun ty Board Chair Katie Cristol, planted 20 Flowering dogwood trees, six Willow oaks, four Tulip trees, and two Northern red oaks. The planting site is bordered on the west by northbound U.S. 29, or North Lynn Street, in Rosslyn. Parkway staff pre-dug holes to make installation of the trees go faster, and all 32 trees were in the ground within 90 minutes. Tree Stewards and arborists kept close tabs on the plantings to make sure no tree was set too low or too high in the planting hole and that soil was gently tamped around the roots of the trees. Parkway staff watered the trees Sunday and added mulch on Monday.

Tree Stewards, working with community volunteers, had already planted 80 canopy trees and understory shrubs this spring, all in Alexandria’s Ben Brenman Park along North Duke Street. Sunday’s dig brought the number to 112, not counting trees planted by volunteer Tree Stewards in Falls Church as part of that city’s Arbor Day celebration marking 40 consecutive years as an Arbor Day Foundation “Tree City USA.”

On April 5, INTUS Windows donated 35 trees that 39 employees of its Fairfax headquarters planted in Ben Brenman Park with assistance from Tree Steward volunteers. The commercial window manufacturer intends to plant one tree for every window or door it sells, making it the first building industry firm to further further the structure’s carbon footprint with its “One Window, One Tree” program. By 2030 INTUS anticipates it will be planting 2 million trees in the United States every year. This is about the size of 5,000 football fields or one third of Manhattan.

Alexandria Mayor Allison Silberberg welcomed the new trees to the city’s largest park and cheered the window company and its employees for their initiative to improve the environment and the appearance of the park.

Tree Stewards returned to Ben Brenman Park on April 14 with community volunteers, including Alexandria City Council candidates Matt Feely and Robert Ray, to install 45 more trees and shrubs. The shrubs include three distinct groves of sumac species on hillsides leading to what is designed by the city’s natural resources staff to become a meadow. Tree Steward Bonnie Petry, a longstanding activist to improve tree canopy in Alexandria, organized both plantings.

In addition to planting trees in spring and fall, Tree Steward volunteers monitor and prune trees on county land, including at schools; remove English ivy that climbs and can strangle trees; help to survey trees; aid residents with questions about choosing the right tree for their needs and available space; recruit and train new volunteers, and educate the public about the great value of trees to the urban ecosystem.



About TreeStewards

TreeStewards of Arlington and Alexandria, Virginia, are trained volunteers who work to protect, preserve, and enhance urban tree canopy through public education and volunteer activities such as planting, pruning, and caring for trees.
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