You can never really have too much canopy. That’s why around 20 volunteers were in the median of Route 20 near Interstate 64 on a toasty December 12, digging compacted soil and planting nine swamp white oaks, part of a plan to forest the median with white oaks, tulip poplars and Kentucky coffee trees.
The project is a collaboration between the Charlottesville Tree Stewards, which paid for the roughly $200-a-pop swamp white oaks, the Charlottesville Tree Commission, Albemarle County, Monticello, VDOT and Piedmont Virginia Community College.
The tree commission has been planting the city’s gateways and wanted to work on Monticello Avenue, much of which is in the county, says Charlottesville Tree Commissioner Paul Josey. “Monticello gave us ideas for trees,” he says. That’s why they’ll be planting white oaks and tulip poplars, which Thomas Jefferson called the “Jupiter and Juno of our groves,” he says.
The swamp white oaks, a nod to nearby Moores Creek, were bare root trees, which make for easier planting than a giant root ball in burlap. The trees, not out of the ground for more than two hours, says Josey, traveled from Bremo Trees nursery. They will grow up to 80 feet and can live 350 years.
The tree stewards hope to get another 70 trees in the median ground over the next two to three years, and are looking for donors for the next planting, says Josey.