Newsletter

Fairfax County residents looking for a new Christmas tree should still be able to find an evergreen for the holiday — for now.

Four Seasons Flower Market (6808 Elm Street) in McLean is just one of the local vendors where people can get holiday trees. Its lot was filled with trees as of yesterday (Tuesday), but a worker there expected them to sell out by mid-December.

Sellers across the country say interest in live trees has been high during another Christmas amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Anyone who wants one this holiday should make plans to purchase one very soon,” Michael Wallace, director of communications for the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, said in an email.

The National Christmas Tree Association reported that last year, tree buyers tended to be younger than usual, urban areas saw an increase in purchases, and sales occurred earlier than they typically did.

While news outlets have reported a tree shortage, suggesting supply-chain issues are at play, one horticulture expert calls a “Christmas tree apocalypse” unlikely.

“Unlike toilet paper in the spring of 2020, real Christmas trees will not disappear,” Michigan State University horticulture professor Bert Cregg wrote.

The total number of Christmas trees cut has declined from 17.4 million in 2007 to less than 15.1 million in 2017, according to Census of Agriculture data, which was last released in 2019. The U.S. Department of Agriculture survey attributes the drop to fewer farms being in the business, with less acreage overall devoted to growing Christmas trees.

Industry statistics indicate that artificial tree sales have gone up in recent years, providing competition.

Beyond Four Seasons, the Tysons area and Fairfax County in general have several options for buying Christmas trees, including Merrifield Garden Center, DePaul’s Urban Farm in Vienna, and Meadows Farms, which has a nursery in Seven Corners.

The Optimist Club of Greater Vienna opened a tree sale lot in the Giant Foods shopping center on Maple Avenue on Saturday (Nov. 27), and Trinity United Methodist Church (1205 Dolley Madison Blvd.) in McLean will use proceeds from its tree sales to support its Scouts and youth programs.

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Morning Notes

FCPS Settles Lawsuit Over Treatment of Students with Disabilities — “Three disability rights organizations…and the families of six students with disabilities had sued in 2019, alleging that students with disabilities in Fairfax schools experienced discrimination, trauma and physical harm through the excessive and improper use of seclusion and physical restraint. As part of the agreement reached Tuesday [Nov. 23], Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) will ban all seclusion practices and curtail its use of physical restraint by the next academic year.” [The Washington Post]

Black Friday Shoppers Return to Tysons Corner — Traffic and sales at Tysons Corner Center were roughly on par with 2019 for Black Friday, according to a senior marketing manager for the mall. She said the return of pre-pandemic crowds wasn’t surprising, since the shopping center has seen a steady increase in traffic over the past three weeks. [WTOP]

Fire and Rescue Department Offers Hanukkah Safety Tips — “Hanukkah starts this evening [Sunday] and runs through December 6. It is a joyous time, so please ensure you and your loved ones stay safe as the holiday season is the peak time of year for home candle fires. Get in S.T.E.P. (Safety Takes Every Person) With FCFRD This Holiday Season and candle with care!” [FCFRD]

McLean Rotary Club Recognizes Front-Line Service Workers — “Under the leadership of president John McEvilly, the Rotary Club of McLean has initiated a new program — ‘Dignity of Work’ Award. According to former McLean Rotary President Lynn Heinrichs, who chairs the initiative, the award ‘is designed to recognize and promote the great people working in the McLean community.'” [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]

Retirement Puts Vienna Tree Assessments on Hold — “Due to staffing shortages stemming from a retirement, the Town is temporarily unable to conduct tree assessments on private property.  Tree assessments on private property are expected to resume in March 2022 after appropriate staffing levels have been restored.” [Town of Vienna/Twitter]

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Morning Notes

County Proposes Expanding Tax Relief Program — “Today, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a public hearing on Dec. 7 to consider expanding the real estate tax relief program for seniors and people with disabilities…The expanded program would allow people with higher incomes and net worth to qualify, add a new 75% tax relief bracket and offer an option to defer tax payments.” [Fairfax County Government]

Man Sentenced in Falls Church Woman’s Drug-Related Death — “A former medical student from Ontario, Canada, was sentenced on Tuesday to one year in prison for distributing MDA — a psychedelic drug similar to MDMA, or “molly” — that resulted in the fatal overdose of a 21-year-old Falls Church woman in 2019, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.” [Patch]

MCA Takes Position on Tree Presevation Proposal — “McLean Citizens Association (MCA) board members on Nov. 3 commended the Fairfax County Tree Commission for crafting proposals to preserve the county’s tree canopy, but did not agree with all of the group’s recommendations…MCA’s resolution expressed concerns about the proposals regarding property setbacks and taller buildings.” [Sun Gazette]

Lewinsville Park Eyed for Pickleball Facilities — The Fairfax County Park Authority will present options to improve the park’s six existing tennis courts and introduce pickleball with a virtual public meeting at 7 p.m. on Dec. 1. The potential project aims to address growing demand for pickleball facilities in the greater McLean area. [FCPA]

Local Veterans’ Job Fair Is Big Draw — “One week before Veterans Day, representatives of 66 companies interviewed job-seekers at the first annual Veteran and Military Career Fair on Nov. 4, 2021…Geared toward assisting veterans, active-duty service members transitioning out of the military, and military spouses, the hybrid event was attended by 250 job-seekers at the museum, and 259 virtually attendees located around the world.” [Fairfax County Economic Development Authority]

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Morning Notes

Metro Service Cutbacks Continue — “Reduced Metrorail service is expected to continue until at least Sunday, October 24, as the investigation into the October 12 derailment continues. Beginning tomorrow, trains will operate every 15 minutes on the Red Line and will continue to operate every 30 minutes on all other lines. Silver Line trains will operate between Wiehle-Reston East and Federal Center SW only.” [WMATA]

What to Know About COVID-19 Boosters and Vaccines for Kids — More than 45,000 Fairfax Health District residents have gotten an additional or booster dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. The Fairfax County Health Department says  it is “actively planning and preparing for the authorization of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson booster doses and vaccinations for children ages 5-11.” [FCHD]

Capital Bikeshare Changes Prices — The D.C. area bicycle-sharing system raised rental prices for non-members on Oct. 1, dropping a flat $2 fee for 30-minute rides in favor of charging 5 cents per minute and a $1 “unlocking fee.” Officials say the changes will help cover increasing operational and maintenance costs as well as future improvements and expansion plans. [The Washington Post]

Local Environmentalist Dies — “McLean resident Debra Ann Jacobson, a lawyer, investigator for Congress and ardent environmentalist, died Sept. 15 at her McLean home. She was 69 and died from complications of liver cancer, her family said. ‘Debra was a champion for the environment and someone who inspired those who were fortunate enough to know her,’ said Supervisor John Foust (D-Dranesville).” [Sun Gazette]

Vienna Family Raises Funds for Child After Stroke — Vienna residents Tom and Paige Shahryary will hold their second annual James’s Promise Run at Nottoway Park on Nov. 7 to raise money for their now-2-year-old son, James, who suffered a stroke after he was born in August 2019. The family also has a GoFundMe page to raise funds for medical treatments and therapies. [Patch]

Vienna to Give Away Native Tree Seedlings — “Fall is a great time to plant trees and shrubs. Find out why and pick up a free native tree seedling this Saturday, Oct. 23 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Vienna Community Center. Town arborist Scott Diffenderfer will be on hand to answer your questions about trees.” [Town of Vienna/Twitter]

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Arbor day tree planting in 2017 (via Falls Church Village Preservation and Improvement Society)

The City of Falls Church and the Falls Church Village Preservation and Improvement Society (VPIS) are planning to plant 30 new trees this fall and could use some of your input on where to put them.

Charles Prince, City of Falls Church Arborist, says the planting effort is part of a multi-year push to spruce up much of the city, and the 30-tree goal is intended to be mindful of the limited scale of volunteer operations.

“The Department of Public Works has a goal of 100 trees per year that started this past July,” Prince said by email. “100 is the number of trees planted for the City’s first Arbor Day. Right now we have limited resources due to volunteer event restrictions (COVID) and until our in house crew is hired we are down three people that would normally assist with planting. Setting a goal of 30 trees using a tree contractor lets us work towards our goal while being mindful of budget.”

While the target goal of 100 trees per year is new, Prince says Falls Church has had an annual tree planting program in place for over two decades.

“This is a successful and popular annual program that has been in place since 2000 and has resulted in 1,400 trees thanks to many, many volunteers,” Prince said.

Prince said the program has helped make the tree canopy a core part of the city’s DNA, noting that Falls Church has been designated a Tree City USA by the National Arbor Day Foundation for 42 consecutive years.

“The distinction honors the City’s commitment to community forestry,” Prince said. “In fact, the City was the first community in Virginia to be recognized as a Tree City and has the longest state record for this annual national award. The City had the first Arbor Day in the state in 1892 after a hurricane hit Falls Church.”

Prince said the trees program helps provide several benefits, from shade and filtering CO2 to reducing stormwater runoff and certain health benefits.

For residents hoping to get a tree from the city to plant, Prince said there are a few restrictions, including that requests must come from Falls Church City residents. Falls Church addresses outside city limits don’t count.

Sites also must have room for a shade tree within 15 feet of the street with no interfering utilities, and they can’t be subject to a required landscaping plan.

Requests must be submitted to the city or VPIS by Sept. 6 to be eligible for the fall planting.

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A map of a power outage in McLean, caused by a tree that fell on utility wires on Spring Hill Road (via Dominion Energy)

(Updated at 11:35 a.m.) 302 people in McLean are without power after a tree fell and took out some utility wires on Spring Hill Road overnight.

Dominion Energy spokesperson Peggy Fox says the fallen tree broke one pole and two cross-arms, bringing down four spans of wire.

Spring Hill Road has been closed between Georgetown Pike and Old Dominion Drive so that crews can work to address the downed pole and restore power, WTOP reported.

According to Dominion’s outage map, a crew is currently assessing the damage caused by the tree, and the estimated time of restoration is between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m., a timeframe confirmed by Fox.

The Spring Hill Recreation Center (1239 Spring Hill Road) is temporarily closed due to the ongoing power outage, according to the Fairfax County Park Authority.

“Summer camps have been relocated to the school next door,” the park authority said on social media. “Indoor classes are temporarily canceled. Outdoor classes are being held as scheduled, but check with your instructor.”

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As the holiday season comes to a close and the new year approaches, it may be time to throw out your old Christmas trees and greenery.

For most Fairfax County residents, live Christmas trees that are less than eight feet tall will be collected curbside in single-family and townhouse communities on regular trash collection days between Jan. 11 and 22.

Residents may schedule a brush pickup for a tree removal after Jan. 22.

Fairfax County residents can also drop off their trees at the I-66 Transfer Station or the I-95 Landfill Complex. There is a $7 recycling fee per tree at the recycling centers, and all decorations and stands must be separated before disposing of trees.

The Town of Vienna will collect trees and brush on regularly scheduled collection days through January. Decorations, tinsel, ornaments, and other trimming should be removed from the trees before setting them out for collection. Trees should also not be bagged.

The City of Falls Church will collects Christmas trees free of charge on Wednesdays throughout January and February. The city advises placing trees at the curb within the first two weeks of January “to ensure speedy collection.”

Plastic bags, rope, and all decorations, including tinsel, should be removed.

For people looking for alternatives to disposing of their holiday greenery, the National Christmas Tree Association provides some other options:

  • Soil erosion barriers: Some communities use Christmas trees to make effective sand and soil erosion barriers, especially for lake and river shoreline stabilization and river delta sedimentation management.
  • Fish feeders: Sunk into private fish ponds, trees make an excellent refuge and feeding area for fish.
  • Bird feeders: Place the Christmas tree in the garden or backyard and use it as a bird feeder and sanctuary. Fresh orange slices or strung popcorn will attract the birds and they can sit in the branches for shelter. (Make sure all decorations, hooks, garland and tinsel strands are removed). Eventually (within a year) the branches will become brittle and you can break the tree apart by hand or chip it in a chipper.
  • Mulch: A Christmas tree is biodegradable; its branches may be removed, chipped, and used as mulch in the garden.
  • Paths for hiking trails: Some counties use shredded trees as a free, renewable and natural path material that fits both the environment and the needs of hikers.
  • Living, rooted trees: Get a rooted (ball and burlap or containerized) tree and plant it in your yard. (It’s a good idea to dig the hole in the late fall while the soil is still soft, then plant the tree into that hole immediately after Christmas.) Living trees have a better survival rate in mild climates.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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With Thanksgiving over and Christmas music on the airwaves debate-free, local nonprofits and nurseries are starting their annual sales of Christmas trees and other holiday greenery.

People getting into the festive spirit can choose from many local organizations, which will use the money to fund everything from scholarships and Boy Scout Troop outings to youth ministry programs and community health programming.

Trinity United Methodist Church in McLean (1205 Dolley Madison Blvd) kicked off its sales right after Thanksgiving Day, and they will continue through mid-December. The sales benefit Trinity youth ministries and Boy Scout Troop 869.

Hours for the sales vary depending on the day:

  • Thursday & Friday: 4-6 p.m.
  • Saturday: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Sunday: 12-5 p.m.

St. John Academy in McLean (6422 Linway Terrace) is launching its Christmas tree sales this Thursday (Dec. 3). A tree lot will be set up in the school’s lower-level parking lot through Dec. 20.

Trees start at $50, and garlands and wreaths are also available. Sale hours are 4-7 p.m. on Wednesday through Friday and 10 a.m.-7 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

The Optimist Club of Greater Virginia is selling Christmas trees, wreathes, roping, and tree stands at the corner of Maple Avenue and Branch Road near PNC Bank and Giant in Vienna. Weekday hours go from 4-8 p.m., and weekend hours are from 10 a.m.-7 p.m.

Tree sales fund awards, scholarships, and honoraria for students from James Madison, George Marshall, and Oakton High Schools, as well as their school pyramid, scout troops, sports teams and youth groups, according to the Vienna Business Association website.

The Vienna Lions Club has Fraser Firs for sale with costs ranging from $65 to $115. The club will also be selling wreaths, ropage and related holiday goods in the Walgreens parking lot at 225 Maple Ave.

Hours are:

  • Weekdays: 2 to 8 p.m.
  • Saturday: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Sunday: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

According to its website, the Vienna Lions Club expects items to be gone before Dec. 13.

“We will remain open until we sell out,” the club said. “We anticipate a strong and brisk tree sale and remind our loyal customers of just how quickly our inventory can diminish.”

Proceeds from the sale benefit local, national, and international LIONS Sight and Hearing Foundation activities, along with several organizations, community, and individual betterment activities.

Local nurseries in Fairfax County have also decked out their socially distanced halls with greenery to buy.

In Vienna, shoppers can stop by DePaul’s Urban Farm (2599 Chain Bridge Rd) for trees and a holiday market.

The Merrifield Christmas shop looks more spread out this year to allow for safe social distancing, but it is still offering the same selection of Christmas decor, plants, and greens.

Orders must be placed before arriving at one of the store’s three locations in Falls Church, Fair Oaks, and Gainsville. Once shoppers arrive at the loading station, they can remain in their vehicles while staff loads their purchases.

Meadows Farms has trees, poinsettias and wreaths galore, with locations in Chantilly, Falls Church, Annandale, Vienna and Herndon, and 16 other shops. It also has an online library with decorating tips and care instructions.

If you know of any other location, please let Tysons Reporter know!

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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Autumn is approaching and the Vienna Community Center is hosting a native plant event this weekend.

From 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on Saturday (Sept. 12), people can gather at the Vienna Community Center (120 SE Cherry Street) to buy a variety of fall-friendly plants, learn how to make rain barrels, educate themselves about stormwater and participate in other activities, according to the event flyer.

Hill House Nursery will be on site with perennials, shrubs and trees, the flyer said.

“The plants we offer are chosen for their aesthetic qualities, their durability, their vigor, and their wildlife benefits,” according to the nursery’s website.

For people who want to pre-order greenery, pickup will be available as well at the event. Those interested can email Hill House Nursery.

To keep everyone safe, event organizers ask that attendees wear face-masks, refrain from touching merchandise before purchasing and practice social distancing.

Photo via Hill House Farm and Nursery/ Facebook

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Church Street is currently closed in Vienna for emergency tree work, the town announced on social media.

The town announced this morning that Church Street between Glyndon Street and Beulah Road will be closed today (Tuesday) for up to three hours starting at 9 a.m.

The town also said that “several other tree and maintenance projects will impact travel this week,” including:

  • Removal and replanting of trees in the Nutley Street median tomorrow will temporarily close the southbound lane closest to the median
  • Mulch spreading in flower beds will close a lane on Maple Avenue from 6-10 p.m. tomorrow
  • Tree removal will close westbound lanes on Maple Avenue between Follin Lane NE and East Street NE from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. on Friday

Town Arborist Gary Lawrence said that the work on Nutley Street tomorrow will include the removal of 11 “dead or severely decayed” trees between Marshall Road and Maple Avenue.

The work is expected to take three days ahead of replanting on March 9, which will take approximately four business days.

“The trees being removed are lindens and one Bradford pear,” the arborist said. “The species being replanted include willow oaks, lacebark elm, and pistache. These trees have proven to be highly tolerant of environmental conditions similar to those along Nutley Street.”

As for the work tree removal on Maple Avenue on Friday, the town plans to take out a black locust tree that has “an extensive crack at its base, which has compromised its structural integrity,” according to the Facebook post.

Map via Google Maps 

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