Tree Stewards Tackle Degraded Paths in Brandymore Castle

Tree Stewards Tackle Degraded Paths in Brandymore Castle

Local landscaping company El Quetzal provides volunteer crew for the effort

” Where else can you plant trees with fun people, hang out in the forest and eat tacos!” On Nov. 13, Tree Stewards led the task of restarting the natural plantings of Brandymore Castle in Arlington. Tree Steward Jo Allen has been leading the effort to remove invasive plants from trees and groundcover and trying to keep bike riders from damaging more of the fragile environment for years. This year, she masterminded the frontal assault and enlisted reinforcements in the battle. In addition to Allen getting the Friends of Brandymore Castle out volunteering, Arlington Urban Forester Melissa Gildea worked with Earth Sangha in choosing 80 trees and shrubs to block off the damaging bike paths, plus 50 Virginia Creeper plants to stop one bank's erosion. They planted the smaller plants in the morning and in the afternoon removed ground ivy and bolstered the trees with protective fencing.  

Tree Steward Doug Dickman went with Gildea to pick up leftover plastic tree tubes, short and large wooden stakes, bundles of wire, plastic deer guards, etc. from the Arlington Trades Center and County Nursery. Heavy wire was staked down to close an unauthorized path. There will also be a large enclosure of chicken wire surrounding the steep bank where the 50 Virginia Creeper plants were planted. The hope is that these efforts will keep bikers from sliding down the bank. It will be a learning experience over the next year to see which protective device is most effective at deterring deer and bikers. This is a pilot for future tree steward volunteer events involving protection post planting. Once there is agreement on best practices, those could become as common as watering after planting, and benefit parks throughout the region.

Senior tree steward Nora Palmatier wasn’t sure what excited her most. Was it that 12 tree stewards and master naturalists turned out to work with 15 volunteers from the community, or that five of the new tree steward training class, which doesn’t even start until February, came to join in? Or was it that El Quetzal, which does the landscaping for a nearby condo, volunteered all day Saturday even though they had worked outside all week? The owner Victor Lopez knows and loves trees, and his native plant and tree knowledge impressed the tree stewards, along with his record of community work in Arlington. 

Or was it that, “Jo Allen got a taco truck to come at lunch time for those of us who stayed all day, and it was better than the bananas we've always had.”   

For more information about Tree Stewards and how to sign up for the next class, see:

For more about Brandymore Castle, see, 

For more about El Quetzal see: