DC's Cherished Cherry Trees in Danger
Guest blog post by Jim Dronenburg
As we all know, the cherry blooms will be late this year. But go see them while you can, since it will be the last time for years that they will bloom in all their glory.
Perhaps you know already, as this has been happening for several years— the retaining wall between the Tidal Basin and the Potomac, on both sides of the “peninsula” between, has been failing. Leaving it go any farther now is going to risk destabilizing the Jefferson Memorial. Finally, they are getting set to do something—and this being Washington, it is going to be monumental in scope.
Really monumental. The retaining walls, all of them, will be replaced, section by section. The new walls will be four feet higher. So will the soil level where the cherry trees are now planted.
It will result in all the cherry trees being taken out. Yes, taken out, for the duration of the project, and
then replaced at the new soil level. They will start with the largest trees that they think will survive the move, and plant them at the National Arboretum for the duration, which is scheduled to last about three years.
Likely this will work for the younger trees. But there is only room at the Arboretum to plant about forty percent of those moved.
For the rest, they are setting out an Adopt-A-Tree program. This isn’t like the Adopt an Animal program at the Zoo — if you have the space, they will actually excavate and MOVE ONE OF THE CHERRY TREES TO YOUR SITE. You will take care of it (with some help from them) and at the end of the renovation period — some three years supposedly, but you never know — the tree will be moved back to its original location.
Of course, there are constraints here. The site you propose would have to be evaluated, including (and it’s a big “include”) access for the tree and the equipment moving it in.
One other thing, and I notice the blurb I got didn’t mention this, is who is going to fill in the hole after your refugee tree is repatriated to the Tidal Basin. I assume they will, but it would be best to find it out.
Look around and if you have such a site, consider it. But time is of the essence. If you CAN host a tree, please respond immediately to firstname.lastname@example.org and then read the first letter of each paragraph above.
About the Author
Jim Dronenburg is an accountant by day, an Irish harper/singer by night, and a Behnkes Nursery weekend warrior to support his expanding gardens in Knoxville, MD. He is a regular contributor to Washington Gardener Magazine.