Friday, June 13, 2014

Model mulch project starts our summer program

This summer the sidewalk trees here will be stressed. The sun beats down during the long, hot days; also its heat reflects back from the pavement.  People bake and choke on bare sidewalks. Likewise,  the root systems of sidewalk trees need all the water they can get plus exchanges of fresh air.

RMA hired Professional Gardens LLC to yank weeds, grass and debris away from 33 important sidewalk trees on Embassy Row. How much weedy dirt can 33 trees have messing them up? More than one truckful, it turned out. 
The  crew spread shredded hardwood mulch - but thinly, so water from rainfall and hoses can flow easily to each tree's base. Please pass here and see model, flat mulched squares around these trees.  In this video proprietor Ricky Fuentes shows how to do it.


What's next?
---RMA will be reminding local owners to water the trees, 25 gallons per week, until fall. As the weeds start up again, we'll remind owners to pull them out so the trees will fare better. 
-- Our summer tree care workshops will give special help to other trees. Teams of  Treekeepers deploy for a few hours, mostly on weekends. We can host groups for community service. For info please email volunteer@restoremassave.org

Help us nurture rows of shade trees that make Embassy Row a 'cool' summer hangout.                                                                                                                                - Deborah Shapley




Saturday, May 31, 2014

Embassy open house visitors learn about trees

May 4 and 10, 2014
We spoke with hundreds of people about our work reviving the trees and historic landscape on Embassy Row, in the course of two glorious weekends here.

The general public is invited to visit embassies free of charge on two Saturdays in May. These open houses, organized by Passport DC, have become wildly popular. The sidewalks of Embassy Row are jammed. People form long lines for entry to an impressive interior showcasing that nation's art and culture, to sample cuisine and take away tourism info and souveniers. They also feel what it's like to be in the public space here - under the trees or in the hot sun on the still-bare bare parts of the avenue.

On May 3 RMA reps met people of all ages and backgrounds at our table on the sidewalk by the Embassy of Zambia. The following Saturday we spoke with even more people at the British Embassy, which reported more than 8,000 visitors that day.

We hope those we met will echo our message: you too can grow healthy city trees. Those who gave us their contact info will be sent our educational messages and news.

We also hope our new friends will join in our work saving one of the nation's treasured streets.
With their help, we can have shadier sidewalks for the crowds next year.

                                        - Deborah Shapley

More photos on Twitter @restoremassave.
To learn more please email volunteer@restoremassave.org.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Tree buds: Close-up and revealing

Finally, area temperatures have warmed enough to tell trees here to start budding.  In early April Restore Mass Ave's new photographer, Richard Royce, set out to record the miracle of trees' rebirth.

These magnolias can be seen along Embassy Row. So are emerging buds of elm and linden.

Inspect them closely to see the excitement of their growth on a tiny scale, yet multiplied thousands of times on a single tree.

The buds will become more visible as they enlarge into leaf clusters, soon forming the pleasant green haze that we visualize as the start of spring.

But the human eye is late to the trees' ancient cycles. The buds have been forming inside the twigs during the long, windy winter.

Why did our non-profit work to get all our trees watered and mulched last fall, up to the first frost? As nourishment, so their internal regeneration would proceed until the moment they chose to show their beauty to us once again.

This past winter Restore Mass Ave has been nourished by new friends and allies. Here we thank Richard in particular for his skill and love for trees.
                                                                         
 --  Deborah Shapley, President, RMA
  --
 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Restore Mass Ave at State Department


The majestic trees and park-like landscape of Embassy Row form a unique street landscape in the nation, RMA President Deborah Shapley explained in a briefing at the State Department Office of Foreign Missions (OFM) on March 5.
 
RMA arranged the meeting so that OFM staff and various city officials could describe their respective procedures for approving alterations to buildings and landscape when foreign-owned properties are involved.

Leaders of neighborhood groups were invited to expressed concerns that some recent Embassy Row construction projects have violated the  character of the street and neighborhood.

A welter of rules apply to these projects. There are the diplomatic and security considerations handled by OFM; the street, sidewalk and tree issues are handled by DC's Department of Transportation.  Finally local codes and historic preservation rules apply to fences, paving, statues, flags and signs.

The challenge, Ms. Shapley said, is how to organize approvals of initial plans for an embassy renovation - and the later changes during the job - so the sweeping, park-like landscape of the historic Grand Avenue is undisturbed. And so the public traveling the busy Mass Ave thoroughfare can see and appreciate the seqeuence of Beaux Arts mansions framed by trees.

But how to re-create historic vistas with so many stakeholders involved? Many embassies have taken pride in new trees for lawns and yards arranged by RMA since 2007; many now care for nearby city trees in the sidewalk. RMA works with ~30 foreign-owned properties and adds more "participants" to its program each season, Ms. Shapley said.

State Department officials were supportive of getting all parties to preserve the green and historic character of Embassy Row.

“Green diplomacy is not something we talk about; it's something we practice," Clifton C. Seagroves, Director of the OFM property office said after the meeting.

Though the meeting was on background, here are a few slides from the briefing to show how landscape and architecture harmonized along the original Grand Avenue a century ago.  Also  things that block or distract from crucial views.

These slides preview RMA's Historic Landscape Initiative and its forthcoming illustrated book, A Grand Avenue Revival, whose design and printing is supported by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.   - Deborah Shapley              

Thursday, February 6, 2014

17 New Trees Add Canopy to Embassy Row

 Look for 8 new trees in a line marching north from the busy corner of Mass Ave and 34th Streets by the Norway Embassy.

They're all silver linden - Tilia tomentosa - in an even-spaced row to replicate the historic landscape of Mass Ave.  Restore Mass Ave suggested planting this row after the trees there were lost in storms.

We're grateful to the city Urban Forestry Administration (UFA/DDOT) for planting this row. In the photos below, taken last summer, UFA Arborist Vera (Munevver) Ertem marks where the new trees will be planted. The left photo shows the huge stump of the 100+year old tree that had been lost. At right Vera measures from one tree's center to the next, so they would be evenly spaced.

What's the pink dot on the curb? It is UFA-speak for plant tree here!

During her visit, Vera spotted other holes in the long lines of tilia by the curb in front of the forest opposite the Naval Observatory/Vice President's Residence. So she painted more red dots, thus deciding another 9 lindens would be added. Now these slender saplings have been planted, each with a pair of stakes to protect it from Mass Ave's high winds. These 17 new lindens bring to 300 the number of new trees Restore Mass Ave has arranged to date.

Why lindens on Mass Ave? The leaders of post-Civil War Washington revered the tree-lined formal thoroughfares of Paris and Berlin. So they landscaped Mass Ave with double rows of linden trees. In the 1870s and 1880 linden rows stretched on Mass Ave for five miles across town. When Mass Ave was extended another two miles to Wisconsin Ave, 500 more lindens were added in double rows, in 1904-05.  Some of these elderly witnesses still stand - though they won't be with us much longer.

At right you see the bracts and 
fruits of a silver linden on Mass Ave in early summer.
The linden blooms and scent were prized
additions to streets in
Europe and America. 
The trees were closely planted for a great experience 
walking and riding in carriages under them.

Friday, November 15, 2013

New! Our Street Tree Inventory Project

Does follow-up care of new-planted trees improve their chances of surviving? Do street trees that are well cared for grow bigger, sooner than those that don't get TLC?

Some forest scientists suspect the answer must be yes. We at Restore Mass Ave -- who are passionate about caring for trees -- believe that the care we arrange for DC street trees should raise the odds they will stick around for 10 or 20 years or longer.

But will they? To start tracking the growth of "our" street trees, RMA began an inventory. Our volunteers measured all the city trees along Mass Ave and related streets from Dupont Circle out to Rock Creek Park - about 1.5 street-miles and some 300 tree sites. We announced the Inventory Project Nov 4 as part of National NeighborWoods, sponsored by Alliance for Community Trees.

Our news video shows how to care for a little street tree to help it grow. It shows that the benefits of bigger trees are way bigger than those of little trees.

Why size matters: new RMA Street Tree Inventory Project
Video by Jazmin Garcia

The Embassy of Greece Military Office participated, because its staff takes model care of the DC street trees by the office. Lt. Col Ioannis Argyriadis said why his office is helping to "green" Washington.

Carlson Klapthor of the Urban Forestry Administration (UFA/DDOT), which plants these trees, spoke about the threats to them and urged neighbors including embassies to water and mulch them regularly.

Marty Scherr represented RMA's volunteer Treekeepers who measured 292 trees and additional empty tree spaces; our Nov 4 event announced that the data collection phase is done.
Restore Mass Ave launches Inventory with Alliance for Community Trees. L to R:  Lt. Col. Ioannis Argyriadis, Embassy of Greece Military Office; Deborah Shapley, President RMA; Marty Scherr, RMA Board member and Volunteer.
But we at Restore Mass Ave are amateurs, so each of our projects is advised by experts. Guiding the Inventory Project are Dr. Jessica Sanders, Director of Technical Services and Research at Casey Trees and Dr. Lara Roman of the US Forest Service.  
 
Visit our website for our press release and Tree Benefits poster. Visit our Volunteer page if you are interested in joining the Inventory's next phase, to help expand DC's urban forest.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Our 2013 Treekeeper Season - Looking Back

By Jon Gossens
A mild summer and great fall weather helped RMA have another great season of outdoor tree care. As organizer of volunteers, I enjoyed  arranging more than 20 Treekeeper meet-ups - work sessions - with new and returning volunteers.  At the British Embassy Open House in May we signed up a plethora of new people who want to learn about expanding Washington’s tree canopy. Many  joined our work helping at-risk trees on Embassy Row. 

During the summer, our volunteers cleared tree boxes, laid mulch, and arranged for water bags to be filled - by us and by nearby property owners. This is very important work during hot months when sidewalk city trees need help to stay hydrated.

A new city tree surrounded with grass which was robbing the tree of soil nutrients before RMA Treekeepers got their hands dirty clearing the whole box.
As the weather cooled and our group grew, we decided on another way we could help Embassy Row and other communities in Washington. Urged by our fearless leader Deborah Shapley, the Treekeepers embarked on a Tree Inventory project. With special help from Robert Thomason, tree aficionado, we measured trees in session after session; we have now inventoried almost 300 street trees along Embassy Row.   

Our detailed measurements will enable us and forest professionals to gauge the health and successful growth of these trees. Click here for our video on tree measurement! The inventory will help RMA set priorities for future tree work, future volunteering, and generally help us grow better trees.

As RMA’s Treekeeper Organizer, I thoroughly enjoyed working with such great volunteers through a very productive season. The weather is cooling and bringing the outdoor work to an end, but the Inventory and other projects will carry us through the winter as we prepare for 2014.

Thank you to everyone who came out this year! See you again soon!

-Jon Gossens, RMA Associate
2238 Decatur Pl NW