Arlington County Spreads Tree Love and Celebrates Arbor Day

By Debbie Williams

“I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees.” –Dr. Seuss

Arlington County’s Notable Tree Program would make the Lorax proud. Since 1987, County residents have been nominating local trees based on a variety of criteria, including size, age, species and historical or community significance. More than 300 trees have been recognized and this year the County Board has added 23 more – a record number – as “Notable.”

“Arlington recognizes notable trees and their caregivers because our trees are not just a part of our landscape, they are a part of our history,” Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey said. “Our Notable Tree Program recognizes their importance to our community, our environment and our sense of identity.”

The County Board recognized the trees and their caregivers during its April Recessed County Board Meeting. View the complete list of recognized trees for 2016.

What makes trees “notable”

Arlington Village Condominium Association, a 42-acre townhome condominium community just off Columbia Pike, boasts five Notable Trees, the most of any private property in the County. Four of the five were recognized this year, including a Tulip, Chestnut Oak, Red Maple and American Elm.

“These trees are the stalwarts of our community,” said Arlington Village’s Rodney Olsen. “People need to know that we’re living among these monuments.” The property also hosts nine American Elms, including this year’s plaque winner, all of which have to be regularly treated for the prevention of Dutch elm disease. Olsen notes the importance of maintaining these trees as part of a “commitment to restore our native landscape.”

But that doesn’t mean a tree must be a native species to be found notable. The plaque-winning Kousa Dogwood in front on Franco Giacomangeli’s Arlington home is non-native and rather small in comparison to other trees, but was recognized for its grandeur based on the species. John Wingard, Arlington County’s Notable Tree Program Volunteer, even plans to submit the tree as a state champion, designating it the largest of its kind in Virginia.

Trees can tell a story

Trees can also be notable for the story they tell. The Southern Magnolia in front of the County’s Fire Station 4, in Clarendon, was planted in 1965 in honor of Captain Archie Hughes, who died in the line of duty the previous year. The fire station has taken special care of this tree over the years. It is not particularly large for its species, but it has a huge place in the hearts of Hughes’ comrades and family.

Beverly Fourier has several large Willow Oaks on her property and nominated the largest at the urging of her neighbor Linda, a master gardener who has since passed away. “I kept thinking that I should do what Linda suggested,” she said. She’s has the tree checked and pruned regularly, and named it “Jupiter” after the Greek god.

David Becknell nominated the Southern Catalpa in front of his family home because “[i]t’s spectacular and people are always commenting on it.” The arborist he had check out the tree told him it could be more than 100 years old. The tree, Becknell said, “is important to our family. We are really proud of it.”

The County encourages these feelings of pride and conservation through its many tree programs. Although the “Notable Tree” designation does not give Arlington County any authority over trees on private property, they may be included in future civic association and neighborhood walking tours.

Celebrate Arbor Day with us April 26

The County also holds special programs to foster tree-love, such as its upcoming Arbor Day Celebration April 26 at Oakridge Elementary School. At the event, the Virginia Department of Forestry will officially award Arlington its 20th consecutive Tree City USA designation, which is based on four core standards of tree stewardship. The multigenerational celebration will feature student activities, a tree-planting ceremony and an official Arbor Day Proclamation.

To learn more about Arlington County’s tree programs, or to nominate a Notable Tree, go to the Arlington County website and click on “Trees & Ecology.”

Arlington Va., is a world-class residential, business and tourist location that was originally part of the “10 miles square” parcel of land surveyed in 1791 to be the Nation’s Capital. Slightly smaller than 26 square miles, it is the geographically smallest self-governing county in the United States, and one of only a handful with the prized Aaa/AAA/AAA bond rating. Arlington maintains a rich variety of stable neighborhoods and quality schools, and has received numerous awards for Smart Growth and transit-oriented development. Home to some of the most influential organizations in the world — including the Pentagon — Arlington stands out as one of America’s preeminent places to live, visit and do business.

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