Adopt-A-Tree and Notable Tree Programs Prove ‘Poplar’

Adopt-A-Tree and Notable Tree Programs Prove ‘Poplar’

Deadline for Notable Tree Program is No. 15.

Arlington County sponsored the event.

Arlington County sponsored the event. Photo by Eden Brown/The Connection

Arlington County’s Natural Resources Division’s annual program provides a variety of native tree species free to Arlington residents.


Mikala, Jacob, and Jennifer Pollard get a primer in planting trees from Jim Graham, Tree Steward. Their family just returned to Arlington.


Pat Carroll takes home an Eastern Redbud and her friend’s American Holly, after walking in an Alzheimer’s fundraiser in the morning.

On Oct. 24 at the nursery on Four Mile Run behind Barcroft Recreation Center, hundreds of Arlingtonians took advantage of the program. Among the different species offered this year were Eastern Redbud, Sweetbay Magnolia, American Holly, Flowering Dogwood, Persimmon, Allegheny Serviceberry, Smooth Alder, Chestnut Oak and Post Oak. Participants took home over 300 “whips” — young trees in the nursery trade parlance — in two-gallon containers.


DIminishing Arlington tree canopy as depicted on chart displayed by Tree Stewards.

Tree Steward volunteers were on site to provide information to ensure new tree owners would plant and maintain their trees in the best place with the right technique. Check the Tree Stewards website for next year’s sale: or to volunteer as a Steward, or see


Nora Palmatier, a leading force in the Tree Stewards, runs the reception table during the Adopt-A-Tree day.

Another tree program Arlingtonians can join is the Notable Tree Program. Since 1987, Arlington has identified and registered its most notable trees, as well as the residents who care for them. In 2015, there were 16 winners. Sometimes the size of a tree makes it prize-worthy, but sometimes it is the uniqueness of the tree, or the significance it has to a neighborhood. WInners receive a certificate or plaque, see their tree placed on the county’s register of notable trees, can see it included in neighborhood walking tours, and never lose control over the tree: it remains theirs and under their authority. Owners may request that their names and addresses not appear on the public listing.


Sally and Hugh Brady have taken home a Redbud and a Smooth Alder.

How does it work? The deadline is Nov. 15 this year, but Arlington volunteer, John Wingard of the Tree Stewards, says he won't be strict about the Nov. 15 deadline, as long as an application gets to in soon after. Wingard likes to get photos and nominations done earlier so the fall colors get into the pictures. Nominators other than the tree’s owner should contact the owner for consent before submitting an application.

After an application is measured and evaluated, it will be considered at the meeting of the Urban Forestry Commission in January. If approved, the applicants will receive a letter in late February or early April inviting them to a County Board meeting in April where the certificates or plaques will be given out. As a rule, trees readily visible to the public get plaques, the others get certificates.

This honorary program costs the county almost nothing since volunteers do most of the work, and aims to draw awareness to trees in general, recognize those who own and spend their money maintaining them — although public trees are also eligible — and lets the public know what and where the county's most outstanding trees are. For more about the program and to see winning trees from previous years, see:

What Makes a Tree Notable?

  • Maturity (Size/Age)
  • Special significance to the neighborhood
  • Uniqueness of species
  • Historical or community interest