Saturday, October 3, 2020

We clean & mulch 31 street trees. Your turn!

Every spring our great landscape contractor Ricky Fuentes cleans out weeds and grass that choke the soil around young and  vulnerable trees that form the "first row" along the curbs of Mass Ave on Embassy Row.  In June Ricky's crew worked around 31 trees we thought needed help.

Starting to help a new tree.

These "street trees" are stressed by wind from traffic, drought and overgrown grass and weeds. These trees are planted & owned by DC Urban Forestry Division. UFD wants nearby owners to care for them, but many owners don't know this.

Restore Mass Ave actively urges those nearby - embassy staffs, other workers and residents - to be stewards of these public trees.

More than 10 years of RMA / owner stewardship helped tree canopy in our project area to grow overallby 13.2% in our first ten years.

Below are photos of RMA's once-a-year kickoff by Ricky's firm J&R Landscaping.

 Now we hope nearby owners will weed and water the trees and keep the soil boxes tidy through the fall.

         Thank you, Ricky and the crew!  Now it's the turn of nearby occupants to look after the trees!

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Haiti Embassy 911 Memorial Tree Gets Spring Cleanup

James starts clearing away grass from the tree.
Treekeeper James Brown and Tree Ambassador Deborah Shapley cleared grass that had sprung from the soil around the 911 Memorial Tree at the Embassy of Haiti at 2311 Mass Ave.

Our May 27 cleanup will help the Embassy continue nurturing this tree, which is an important symbol of that nation's resilience.

The 911 Memorial Commission honors those who have faced a terrible tragedy with the award of a clone of the Callery pear (Pyrus calleryana) that survived the World Trade Center collapse. Back story: In the rubble, workers found this old stump. It was alive!  Experts rescued it and nursed it back to health. It was replanted at the new WTC. Visitors love this living symbol of hope. (See photo below.)

In 2017 the 911 Memorial Commission awarded a clone
of the original survivor tree to the Embassy of Haiti. 
This award honors the Haitian people's resilience
 in the  tragic 2015 earthquake there.
Patrick and James

Restore Mass Ave helped arrange the new tree to be planted right in front of the Embassy, where the public can see it best. Bartlett Tree Experts planted it in 2018 and provided the fence to protect it from vehicles, wind and crowds. The Embassy takes great care of this special tree. 

Josh Nadler of Bartlett's checks up on this tree as it's a special case. He's pleased with its growth.
As part of our Green Community the Haiti Embassy, RMA and Bartletts are growing a new living memorial on Embassy Row.

Haiti Embassy's 911 Memorial Tree.
The original 911 Memorial Tree blooms at WTC.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Thank Korea Embassy for great roses at Sheridan Circle

Travelers can enjoy the Sheridan Circle rosebeds thanks to Embassy of Korea.
   Who's caring for the red rose beds by Sheridan Circle at Mass Ave and 23rd Street?

   The Embassy of Korea has become the "angel" caring for the now-lovely beds of roses on two bits of city land - the big triangle west of the circle and the tiny triangle on the east side.

    Hometown Landscape of Silver Spring now maintains these beds. They even set out RMA's sign, which vanished years ago when RMA Treekeepers were trying to maintain these plantings.

  RMA planted these sites with 'knockout' roses in 2013 with community-donated funds.  But our small NGO has struggled to maintain the beds. The soil needed enrichment which helped. But once the soil was better, weeds spring up!  Wind and dust from traffic buffet the plants and dry the soil. There is no nearby water source.

     The Republic of Korea has three properties in the heart of historic Embassy Row:
 the Consulate (2320 Mass, facing Sheridan Circle), the Korean Cultural Center (2370 Mass), the Embassy (2450 Mass). That embassy like so many of us want to sustain beautiful long views that make our shared, great Grand Avenue an international treasure.

     By giving regular professional care to these once-abandoned sites, which RMA reclaimed and planted, the Embassy of Korea has strengthened our Green Community of "friends working together to re-green Embassy Row."

RMA planted these ginkgos with the Embassy.
RMA Treekeepers mulch and weed the roses,

 The Embassy of Korea  Taegukgi / Taegeukgi   (Korean: 태극기)
Flag of the Republic of Korea or Taegukgi.

South  Korea flag is the Taegukgi features the red and blue
Taeguk, symbol of universal balance. The four black trigrams around it symbolize the seasons.
of Silver Spring, Maryland

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Street trees get help and reminder tags

Treekeeper Kathy digs out crabgrass that was strangling this tree.
Treekeeping Our 2019 program featured reminders and thanks to local owners who care for city-planted trees along the street.

RMA Treekeepers also pitched in - literally. Here Treekeeper Kathy Ryan pulls crabgrass from around a new elm by 2315 Mass. We asked the city UFD to plant this species because, if the tree grows well, it could shade a big bare spot. We thank the Embassy of Haiti, which is next door, for helping the new elm survive.

Tree tags We made and put up tree tags crediting local owners who care for a particular tree. See tag on tree now helped by Embassy Row Hotel at 2015 Mass.

RMA's contractor loosened the soil on 10 trees along 20 Street by the Colombia Residence and at the bus stops on Mass Ave. Then we put tags on some of those trees to warn people not to trample the soil. The final image shows that our tags credit the Urban Forestry Division for planting the tree and credits others involved in its care.      

So we strive with our friends, one tree at a time, to grow full tree rows!

RMA tag on tree on 20th Street.
New tree watered by Embassy Row Hotel, 2015 Mass.

Our tags credit UFD for planting the tree and those who care for it.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Huge trees could be lost at Sursum Corda site

    RMA nurtures the great, huge trees along Embassy Row. Our Grand Avenue was spared the developer's wrecking ball in the 1970s when federal historic status was granted. But RMA cares about big trees all over DC - especially Heritage Trees of 100" circumference or larger, that get extra protection under the 2016 tree law.
       Today RMA warned that developers will axe many Heritage Trees at the Sursum Corda apartment site if a bill before City Council is passed. The bill could come up tomorrow.
       We joined Casey Trees in objecting to the brief bill introduced by Charles Allen, Council Member for Ward 6, where the redevelopment is taking place. Sursum Corda  was a group of low-income homes and apartments for years. The area had many problems, so redevelopment was planned and partly carried out.
      For this phase, hundreds of new apartments would be built on the part of the land where large trees - now called Heritage Trees - have thrived for much of the 20th and all of the 21st century.
      Allen's bill would let the developer pay a lower rate for removing these trees than the 2016 law requires. And by exempting trees on this big, conspicuous project - the bill if passed will invite others to come to the Council with "emergency" exemptions for Heritage-size and other large trees.
      RMA President Deborah Shapley urged Council Member Jack Evans to vote against this bill in  our September 16 letter.
    The 2016 Tree Law is one of the most advanced in the US. It fulfills the visible, shady legacy of our City of Trees which thousands enjoy along Embassy Row and elsewhere in the city.
      We say: Don't gut this law through this back door!


Saturday, September 7, 2019

RMA aids street trees VIDEO

See images of how RMA helps young trees grow, even those next to the busy avenue. RMA works with the Urban Forestry Division of DDOT on what species along curbs will provide the most shade and revive the historic look  - if  they are cared for. We're trying!
Along here, the historic Grand Avenue streetscape had full double rows of shade trees; the District needs these mature tree rows today to reach its tree canopy goals. 

  • Thank you Urban Forestry Division for this lovely little elm which could grow into a mighty shade tree, cooling and beautifying the sidewalk and driveways. It's in front of the vacant Pakistan building at 2315 Mass. The lovely entrance of 2346 Mass is across the street.
  • Thank you Embassy of Haiti (next door at 2211 Mass) for watering this new tree. And for caring for its own sidewalk tree - the 911 Memorial survivor tree (see Our Green Community).
  • Thank you RMA Treekeeper John Umberger for clipping the grass  around this tree and the  Haiti memorial tree next door. The hat is John's after-work attire. There were no bumblebees except in the music.
Your support enables us to help young and at risk street trees. Below are street trees - planted by UFD, for which we arrange care.  Ricky Fuentes of R & J Landscaping loosened and enriched soil around 11 city trees on 20th Street and Mass; two are shown below plus the little elm after John's weedwhack.

Why should neighbors care for street trees? Keeping the tree box clear of grass and crabgrass, loosening soil and light mulch  - improve soil-nutrient exchange. When young trees in hostile environments are cared for  - they grow stronger roots and get bigger.
Note that street trees should be watered regularly through the fall.

          - Deborah Shapley, RMA President, September 2019

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Dupont Tree Plaza - Some Options

Restore Mass Ave champions the cause of transforming the bare old city sidewalk west of Dupont Circle into a delighted, shady space that serves the city and region.

We have achieved an engineered design that retrofits the above- and below-ground space for stormwater management. It has passed all major city approvals, with just a few to go.

So now there's discussion of how present users will be affected by a new space giving priority to trees and nature and to minimizing the bother of heat and rain. To help, our team drew some options. Below the slides is a list of  tradeoffs. But don't miss our main slideshow on our Dupont Tree Plaza project page.

Below the slides are notes on what they mean - the tradeoffs.
View presentation on SlideShare ›
  • Aerial perspective shows at left the bioretention area with native plants and the cypress tree at its center.  The double row of six additional trees are clearly shown. The greenspace down the center is also a bioretention area. Paving is pervious brick.
  • Bikeshare docking shows two Capital BikeShares lines which have 46 docks. Our present plan proposes two lines with 46 docks as now. Another option is one line only, of 28 docks facing the bank wall, so the allée is pedestrian-only.
  • Bike options plan calls for keeping all 46 bikes on the site. Or one or both lines could move to vacant sidewalks nearby.* **
  • FreshFarm farmers' market operates Sunday mornings along 20th Street adjacent to our site. Up to 12,000 people come and hang out, partly due to the shady row of oak trees RMA planted there in 2009. But:
    • One vendor uses the sidewalk that would be part of the bioretention area. That area is 18" below grade and filled with plants and the cypress tree. It's job is to "pond" in big storms, when rainfall will flow slowly to the city's main water-sewer pipe below there.
    • Option 2 would build a wooden deck across 2/3 of the bioretention area. This means planting the cypress tree in just 200 sg ft of open space and 400 sq ft less sunny soil for native plants and pollinators. Option 3 would put pervious paving over this 400 sq ft. But, per next-to-last slide, this catches less stormwater and the tree is constrained.
    • The farmer's market seeks to add stalls. It could add several tents along the bank wall- the north side of the Plaza - but only if no bikes were docked near the wall on Sundays.
  • Other public spaces could be used for bike stands and farmer's market expansion. The city plans a big renovation of the Connecticut Avenue streetscape from Dupont Circle north to California Street.  This would repurpose sidewalk and street space there and build a permanent "deck-over" where Connecticut Avenue exits from under Dupont Circle. The preliminary design is due in 2021.
All parties have said these programming issues should not hold up our Plaza Engineered Design moving to 95% complete.  RMA has been asked coninue consultations with stakeholders and the community. We will!

          Watch this space!      Comment on Twitter  #DupontTreePlaza

We thank the Chesapeake Bay Trust Green Streets, Green Jobs, Green Towns program, funded by EPA, for the grant enabling us to commission a permit-ready plan for the Dupont Tree Plaza. The grant funded our Contract with team led by Designgreen LLC.

*Excerpts from Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2B Resolution of support for the Plaza adopted 9-0 July 10. The full Resolution is on Our Pdfs page.

"•  Will continue to accommodate the significant pedestrian traffic at a prominent
intersection in the neighborhood, and
"• Ensures the same number or more Capital Bikeshare docks will continue to exist
in close proximity to the site if the bikeshare station needs to be reduced or
"...ANC 2B requests and expects that the Restore Mass Ave project team will continue to engage and consult with community stakeholders on the evolution, timeline, and development of the project."

** Excerpt from Dupont Circle Citizen's Association Board Letter of Support July 27.

 The full Letter is on Our Pdfs page.

"DCCA is in support of your plans with one exception: we think it is very important to maintain the current number of Capital Bikeshare docks at this location. This is a very popular station for bike commuters, access to the Sunday farmer’s market, and to serve tourists staying at the nearby hotels. Thus, we request that your final plans include the additional line of bike docks.
....It would also be acceptable if an alternative site can be found that is equally convenient, for some or all of the current bike docks."