Notes September 18 — Care of Community Trees

Jefferson Memorial Park

Gardeners Exchange Group: Meeting 18 September 2021
Location: Jefferson Memorial Park, Charles Town WV
Topic: Care of Community Trees

GEG members met at Jefferson Memorial Park in Charles Town for a program by Ellen May entitled Care of Community Trees. Ellen holds a masters degree from American University in Informational Systems and has worked at the Smithsonian Institute, the National Endowment for the Arts, and as CEO of a holding company of high-end garden centers. Gardening is Ellen’s passion.

Six members were in attendance. Ellen spoke of the work of the local advisory group which studies and writes plans and ordinances for tree management in the community including care of trees in parks and those that may eventually interfere with traffic and utilities. The group maintains a listing of trees suitable for planting along city streets. They provide recommendations to city officials and local utility companies about proper ways to prune trees in order to preserve the aesthetics of the tree while allowing for utility line integrity. Another effort has been to provide a program for reforestation in less developed areas. The institute holds free pruning workshops for the public. Ellen says the group is considering a plan by which citizens of Charles Town may be provided with two trees for personal planting. Members were invited to sign-up for notifications for workshops on tree pruning and care.

Ellen spoke about landmark trees being a witness to history and gave the example of an old live oak on the campus of Hampton University which provides a shady place to hold classes outdoors. Several years ago, a sapling from this tree was given as a gift to President Obama.

Discussion among attendees varied from tree care, insect infestations, damage by deer and use of damage prevention remedies such as soaps with a tallow aroma as a deer repellent to marketed organic products to repel deer or lawn-damaging insects.

Ellen invited the group to walk to her home a block away and tour her garden. The center of attention was a huge black walnut tree in the backyard. Other specimens included giant elephant ear hosta (Asparagaceae family), ferns, tithonia and cosmos (both of the Asteraceae family), zinnas, butterfly bushes (Buddleja davidii) and large boxwood. The meeting concluded with an exchange of a variety of plants including crape myrtle and some exquisitely nature-designed crookneck and butternut squash.

Submitted by Jane Blash

Photos by Jane Blash