Friends of Francis Field

Our Fabulous Fifteen Planters and Their Trees

Posted May 21, 2017

Filling our 15 volunteer slots for the May 13, 2017, tree planting was not difficult, as our members always seem ready to step up to the task. Most of us had never actually planted a tree before, and it was an interesting learning experience. Some hard work, too!

Planting teamThe area of the field we worked on was near the sidewalk on 25th Street, and the ground contained quite a bit of rubble from the demolition of buildings and sheds that had once existed there.

We found lots of broken bricks and large stones. In a few places, there was a layer of rock that had to be broken through with a pickaxe. However, the tool demonstration by the Casey Tree Foundation was excellent, and each volunteer team had the guidance of one or more experienced planter. Those are the people in the red vests in the photos.

Nearly all of our FFF volunteer planters planted two trees. Tom and Jane Wilner and Pat Tith are shown in the photo above, planting a River Birch. (Tree No. 28 on the map below. The same team also planted Tree No. 29.) The River Birches were among the largest trees planted anywhere on the field that day.

Moore family plantingEach of the 43 trees had been put in position the day before, and was based on the plan drawn up at FFF's expense by Lauren Brandes, a landscape architect from the Washington, DC, office of Oculus, an international architecture and urban design firm. She worked with DPR landscape architect Peter Nohrden to chose the locations for the trees to be planted.

Digging the holes of the proper size was only one step. Then the trees had to be moved into place. In the photo at right, FFF planters Rick, Robin, and Lily Moore are removing the burlap wrapping around the root ball of one of the two Carolina Silverbells they planted. (Trees No. 23 and 24.)

Silverbells are ornamental trees, with white flowers, that usually bloom in April. They will add to the park-like fabric of the 25th Street side of the field.

Planting treeTeamwork was essential. All 43 trees were planted in three and a half hours, with a total of about 60 volunteers. As shown at left, it required the work of four people to wrestle the large River Birches into position.

FFF members Chris Haspel and Rebecca Coder (in the green vests) as shown with two Casey Tree experts (in red vests) during the planting process. Another FFF member working on that team, Peter Sacco, took this photograph and others.

Chris, who seems to add an element of wit and humor to every occasion, quickly named this particular tree "Elvis." Elvis, formerly known as Tree No. 34, is the nearest tree to the southern gate of the field, and will help to shade the benches around the circular sidewalk. (See map below).

The River Birch is considered both an ornamental and a shade tree. It grows rapidly to a height of 40 to 70 feet, and a spread of 40 to 60 feet at maturity. Although not yet as popular for urban planting as maples and oaks, it was named the "Urban Tree of the Year" in 2002 by the Society of Urban Arborists.

Planting elm treeAlso designed to provide shade were two American Elms, planted on the space inside the circular sidewalk. These were among the smaller trees planted, but don't be fooled, the American elm typically grows to be a very tall and wide tree. Shown at left preparing to plant one of them--Tree No. 37, which is lying on the ground--is Chris Cadigan, a recent FFF member.

Interestingly, the species of our two new elms is Ulmus americana - Jefferson. These newest arboreal assets to Francis Field have a distinguished genealogy, having been cloned in 1993 from a 70-year-old tree that still exists on the National Mall here in Washington.

That tree, named "Jefferson," was chosen for cloning in part because of its resistance to Dutch Elm disease. Our Jeffersons should grow to 50 feet tall and 50 feet wide. (For more about this species, and a photo of the "Jefferson" Elm from which it was cloned, see the informative article on the website of the U.S. National Arboretum.

The last steps in the tree planting involved spreading mulch over the surface and driving two stakes for each tree into the ground and tying the trees to the stakes to give them support. Finally, a 25-gallon water bag was staked around the base of each newly planted tree to provide for proper, slow-drip watering.

Casey map smallDoing physical work together outdoors is not something most of us do often in our urban environment. This must be what our ancestors did in their new communities!

The Casey Trees operation was efficient and well-run, and we quickly learned to appreciate the expertise the "red vest" team leaders brought to the project.

It was a rewarding day, and our planters know that if we take care of the trees, they will be on the field for several generations!

A small version of the Casey Tree map is shown at right, with each tree numbered, and its species listed. Click for a larger version in PDF format.

See photos of each of our fifteen FFF planters in a single PDF file.

Here's our 15-member team by name, with the number and species of the tree or trees each FFF team member planted:

Planter Tree Number Species
     
Chris Cadigan 36
37
River Birch
American Elm - Jefferson
Rebecca Coder 34
35
River Birch
River Birch
Jill Eicher 25
30
Carolina Silverbell
River Birch
Gary Griffith 29 River Birch
Chris Haspel 34
35
River Birch
River Birch
Molly Kihara 25
30
Carolina Silverbell
River Birch
Lily Moore 23
24
Carolina Silverbell
Carolina Silverbell
Rick Moore 23
24
Carolina Silverbell
Carolina Silverbell
Robin Moore 23
24
Carolina Silverbell
Carolina Silverbell
Keith Nakasone 25
30
Carolina Silverbell
River Birch
Peter Sacco 34
35
River Birch
River Birch
Pat Tith 28
29
River Birch
River Birch
Rob Williamson 25
30
Carolina Silverbell
River Birch
Jane Wilner 28
29
River Birch
River Birch
Tom Wilner 28
29
River Birch
River Birch

Now the challenge is to water the trees regularly and keep them in good condition!

Copyright 2017, Friends of Francis Field