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April 2022 Update

Short article to share Please see this month’s article on planting shade trees at the bottom of this page and post in newsletters and social media. City Nature Challenge April 29-May 2 Every April, people around the world take photos of plants, animals and fungi to upload to iNaturalist in a friendly competition to see which metropolitan area can generate the most observations. The DC metro area has always done very well. Learn here how to participate. Spring plant sales are here In the spring and fall, our native plant sellers come to you at events around the region. (You can of course also visit them at their garden centers in between.) In addition, participating conventional garden centers have red stickers on their native plants to make it easy to find them. Celebrating Native Trees Friday, April 15, 10:00 – 11:30 am, ONLINE April 2022 marks the 150th anniversary of Arbor Day, an ideal occasion for discussing the importance of planting trees and the reason for choosing native tree species. Join Extension Master Gardener Elaine Mills to learn details on the characteristics and attributes of 20 native trees and suggestions on their uses in the home landscape. General information on planting, care, and helpful resources will be provided. Free. RSVP at to receive link to participate. Nature By Design is moving to a new location in the Fairfax County portion of Alexandria. The last day for onsite shopping at their present Del Ray location will be Saturday, 4/23. Prepaid orders may be picked up at the current location through Tuesday 4/26. If you are planning to make any purchases this spring, they ask that you do so in this time frame to make the move easier. There may be a short period of time after 4/23 where they will be unable to make onsite nursery sales, but they will continue to be able to fill orders for pickup. In the coming days they will update their website to reflect new information. In the interim, they are seeking spots for popups where customers will be able to pick up their purchases. If any organizations (or individuals, provided traffic and parking wouldn't become a nuisance) would like to host a popup location (for renumeration), please let them know. If you are interested in helping them with the move (for pay), please email Randee at Help us record 4,000 tree rescues! Our original goal was to reach 2,000 rescued trees by the end of this year, but 2,027 have already been reported, so we figured we had better up that goal! Have you saved a native tree from invasive vines, poor mulching, or any other cause? Report it here. Please sign up to staff a table at a spring event to hand out materials to the public about using native plants in their landscaping and about the native tree campaign. No experience necessary. Do you have local ecotype plants to share? We are receiving many requests from people doing community projects who need free plants – tree seedlings, perennials for pollinator gardens, etc. If you let us know what you have available, we will put organizers in touch with you when they fill out the request form. See these instructions for details. Do you want to work to save trees from invasive vines? Most of our local parks and even VDOT allow authorized volunteers to snip the invasive vines to temporarily rescue trees from being strangled or smothered. You can find out about the procedures to obtain permission by clicking on the links on this page. If you would like hands-on training, several of these organizations are holding events for that purpose which can be found on our calendar. Report your native tree and shrub plantings Please help Virginia meet its tree-planting obligations by reporting your tree and shrub plantings here. Next Steering Committee meeting – via videoconferencing – All are welcome. Thursday, May 5, 10:00am-12:00pm. Check our Event Calendar for future meetings. This month’s newsletter article to share – Please use this link for social media. Do you have room for a shade tree? If your yard sits in the blazing sun in the summer, it may have already occurred to you that a native shade tree would benefit you tremendously. But even if your yard is already graced by one or more mature tree, you should give some serious thought as to whether it is time to start the next generation. Trees in natural areas can live many hundreds of years, but urban and suburban conditions present stresses that may cause premature decline, a problem that can be seen in many of our older neighborhoods. If you wait until a tree dies, it will be a long time before a seedling can grow to full size. Very likely, the time to plant a replacement is now. There is an unfortunate tendency to replace tall canopy trees with short ornamentals. This does a disservice to the people who will come after us and who will have to contend with even hotter summers and more torrential downpours than we have now. The larger a tree’s canopy, the more benefits it provides in terms of cooling the environment and controlling stormwater, not to mention sequestering carbon, sheltering birds and other critters, and providing food for the caterpillars that are needed to feed baby birds (which only native trees support in noticeable quantities.) Shorter native trees and shrubs are appropriate for many situations, such as under a power line or in a small yard. There are specific recommendations on the Plant NOVA Trees website about how far from obstacles to plant your trees and how large a soil area to allow. The roots of trees can overlap, though, so you can plant them as close as fifteen feet apart and within five feet of shrubs. Trees produce shade, but most canopy trees cannot grow in the shade. (The understory is the space where shorter native trees such as Flowering Dogwood and Redbuds thrive.) It is easy to overestimate the available sun. The number of hours of direct sun per day should be measured when the nearby trees have already leafed out. Good choices for planting under existing shade trees include oaks, American Holly and Black Gum, which will grow slowly but steadily in those conditions then rapidly take off if the overstory lightens up in the future. Native oaks hold the place of honor as the most valuable of trees - the reasons for this are outlined in Doug Tallamy’s most recent book The Nature of Oaks - but any native tree provides major ecological benefits. There is deep gratification to be had from planting and nurturing a little native tree, even if we ourselves may not be around later to sit under it. It is a simple act, easily accomplished. To find out how easily, see the Plant NOVA Trees website.


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