Spring ... with a Cherry on Top March 12, 2012
Washington, D.C. is already a gorgeous place with striking architecture like the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial, as well as the museums and surrounding landscapes. But in spring when the cherry blossoms are in bloom around the Tidal Basin, brilliant mounds of white and soft pink completely surround the space like scented clouds. And, like magic, they are instantly multiplied as they are reflected in the pool. Some describe it as "breathtaking" or "a feast for the eyes." Others call it "one of nature's best shows." And, this year, a mild winter means the show might go on a bit early, according to the National Park Service.
If you want to see the cherry blossoms during peak bloom, the Park Service suggests planning your visit between March 24th and March 28th this year. National Park Service horticulturists monitor five distinct stages of bud development to determine peak bloom, which they define as the point when 70 percent of the blossoms are open. Flowers will still be on the trees for several days on either side of peak bloom. If you prefer to see the puffy white blossoms, arrive four to six days before peak bloom, the National Park Service suggests. The floral fireworks will continue after the peak dates as well. But within one to two weeks of peak bloom, the trees will have shed their blossoms and transition to a fresh green color as the leaves come through.
Typically, average peak bloom for D.C.'s cherry trees is April 4, but the mild winter means an earlier bloom this year. Last year's peak bloom happened March 29. Peak bloom in 2010 was March 30. Usually, cherry blossom trees survive for approximately 50 years. But the city still has just more than 100 of the original 3,000 trees given to the city by Japan in 1912. Those original trees are near the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial. Thousands of other trees have been replaced or grown from the original trees' genetic line.Read More
Under Our Umbrella May 9, 2011
Just the other day, I was attending a professional dinner meeting, so I traded my usual work clothes and boots for a simple dress and heels. And just as I arrived at the restaurant, it started to rain … and I don't mean just pitter-patter, pitter-patter. It was the start of what was soon to be a great, big thunderstorm. I stepped out of my car and prepared to run for it, and, wouldn't you know, my first step was into a giant puddle. Needless to say, I was squishing around in my heels with soggy toes for the rest of the night.
The latest wet weather has left many wringing out their wet socks in search of higher and drier land. It's not a good feeling to be constantly wet - so wet you feel you'll never get dry. If you're in one of these regions with above average rainfall right now, you know this feeling. Now imagine how your trees must feel.
Constant rain, storms and flood watches have us all protecting our socks with good shoes, strategically avoiding puddles and cleaning our gutters so our homes and toes stay dry. But what about our plants and trees? Those poor perennials and conifers, particularly those placed in low areas, are left to tough it out, stuck in the muck. Driving through my neighborhood, I've seen more than one tree surrounded by a large puddle of water that looks like it's not draining anytime soon.Read More
Speaking Tree February 23, 2011
One of my New Year's resolutions is to learn a new language. I work with several arborists fluent in Spanish, and they've inspired me. I've purchased audio aids, manuals, and am even enrolled in a Spanish class at a local community college. Well, it turns out that this is much harder than the commercials make it sound.
As I was absorbing Spanish on my way into work yesterday, it occurred to me that our trees communicate through their own language. They have something to tell us, but we have to be able to understand them. This is one language I am comfortable speaking, so when my landscape wakes from its winter slumber, I'll be ready to listen. Here are a few pointers from my experience as a landscape interpreter:
First, listen for obvious cries for help. Are there any dead or dying limbs, branches that may have broken or split during the harsh winter? If so, prune out the dead tissue to support healthy growth and prevent injury to anyone who might be passing under the tree. Be on the lookout for damage from animals feeding on buds, bark below the snow line, twigs, and small branches. Even if you're new to "speaking tree," trust your instincts here; if something looks wrong, you may have a problem.Read More
This Bud's For You April 8, 2010
In spring, most people are overeager to get outside and enjoy the warm weather. So many changes are happening around them as the landscape comes back to life. And it's quite intoxicating.
People smile more freely. There is a definite and extra bounce to everyone's step. All too quickly, they break out the shorts, t-shirts, tank tops and sunglasses. They talk at length about their first chance to fire up the grill and their initial family meal outdoors. My neighbors even race to see who can be the first to mow their lawn. It's quite refreshing … and addictive.
But the changes are happening so quickly that few stop and just observe long enough to catch the tiniest and most subtle transformations.Read More