Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Contributing Writer - Clea Levinson, Intern
Part 3 of 3 - Cherry Bonanza
Cherries, cherries, cherries!
Everyone wants to see cherry trees this spring but nobody wants to fight the crowds converging on the Tidal Basin - especially DC residents. The question is, where can you enjoy the beauty of the cherry blossoms without encountering massive crowds.
Fortunately cherry trees are planted across the City in public parks, along streets and on private yards for you all to enjoy with some sort of peace and quiet.
Casey Trees even has a clever online tool - Casey Trees Map - that allows you to locate cherry trees on National Park Service property and those that Casey Trees has planted. You can even add cherry trees that you have planted to the map so they can be counted towards the City's Urban Tree Canopy Goal of 40 percent by 2035 and so others can enjoy them.
Now lets hunt cherry trees.
Hosted under the Geographic Resources/Interactive Maps and Tools page on the Casey Trees website, the Casey Trees Map puts the locations of cherry trees across the District at your fingertips.
Here are a few options for you:
Find National Park Service Cherry Trees
  • In the Interactive Legend, select Citywide Trees of Note, then National Park Service Trees
  • Watch them all pop up
Find Casey Trees-planted trees
  • At the top left of the map, select Casey Trees' Planting and type in cherry tree
  • Wow, 285 tree locations magically show
  • Click on any of the purple tree icons to learn about the species, location and more
Add a Cherry Tree to the Map
  • Have you planted a cherry or another tree recently? Add it to the map so we can count it towards the UTC Goal
  • To add a tree, zoom into the map until the "Add a Tree" tool button shows up at the top right of the map
  • Select to add a general tree or a Tree of Note
  • Follow the prompts

Alternate Viewing Locations in DC
  • Hains Point, located in East Potomac Park is a 300+ acre peninsula located between the Washington Channel and the Potomac River on the south side of the Tidal Basin. Here you’ll be able to enjoy the reflections of blossom in the water without a competing mob (or at least a smaller mob).
  • The National Arboretum may seem like an obvious choice but with 446 acres of trees, shrubs and flower, the location allows for more flexibility (and space) when it comes viewing the trees. Plus the 70+ Cherry Tree types that grace the area guarantee some variety. 3501 New York Avenue, NE, Washington, DC 20002.
  • Anacostia Park offers another place to view the blossoms in a less commercial area. The park, located at 1900 Anacostia Drive, SE, is a stretch of 1,200 acres with shoreline access and recreational activities.
  • Foxhall Village, situated near Georgetown may be the best-kept cherry blossom viewing secret in the District. The colorfully lined street around Foxhall and Reservoir Roads, NW make for the perfect walking and viewing location.
Happy cherry tree hunting!

Monday, March 22, 2010


Contributing Writer - Clea Levinson, Intern

Part 2 of 3 - Cherry Tree Bonanza

Oh cherry tree, why do we celebrate thee?

The obvious answer is because their blossoms are pretty to look at and they signify the start of spring. The other reason, which many people non-DC residents may not know, is that the National Cherry Blossom Festival actually celebrates the United States and Japan's close friendship and commemorates the original gift of 3,000 cherry trees from the Mayor Yukio Oazki of Tokyo to the City of Washington.

A brief history lesson.

On March 27, 1912, First Lady Helen Herrron Taft and Viscountress Chinda, wife of the Japanese Ambassador planted the first two trees along the Tidal Basin. Since then, the United States has reciprocated with a gift of flowering dogwood trees, received 3,800 additional trees and even given cuttings from the original trees back to Japan to replace those lost in a flood. In its 98th year, the National Cherry Blossom Festival continues to host family-friendly activities that pay tribute to the culture, arts and friendship between our two countries.

Now a little bit about the cherry tree itself.

Japanese flowering cherry trees are native to Japan, produce beautiful flowers, and come in a variety of types. Today Washington has about 3,750 cherry trees of 16 varieties on National Park Service land and more on private and public lands. However, three cherry trees dominate in the District - Yoshino Cherry, Weeping Cherry and Kwanzan Cherry.

The Yoshino cherry was the original type of cherry tree given to the U.S. by Japan in 1912. The best way to identify the Yoshino cherry is by its long (6 inches generally), elliptic-obovate, coarse leaves. Its flowers, most spectacular in late March and early April, are initially pale pink and later turn nearly white. This tree frames the Tidal Basin and can be found in East Potomac Park and on the U.S. Capitol and Library of Congress grounds.

The Weeping cherry (Weeping Higan Cherry) is considered one of Washington’s more spectacular varieties of flowering trees because of its long pendulous branchlets that produce clouds of pink or white blossoms. The flowers can be double or single: single flowers following a star-shape, and the more rare double flowers, bell-shaped. Try and catch these blossom in late March and early April before leaf formation. The Weeping cherry tree is found in East Potomac Park, on the U.S. Capitol grounds and around other landmarks across the District.

The Kwanzan cherry tree is also part of the original 1912 gift. Its blossom emerge approximately two weeks later than the Yoshino trees and boasts a deep pink double blossom. Look for these in mid April. Leaves range from 3-7.5 inches, and are ovate, doubly toothed with a coppery or purplish color initially, then become green. The Kwanzan trees are planted all over the city but are planted extensively in East Potomac Park.

If you want to learn more about these and the other types of cherry trees in the District, you can read City of Trees by naturist Melanie Choukas-Bradley who leads several of our free Tree Walks throughout the year.

Tomorrow we will tell you how you can locate where other cherry trees are planted across the City so you don't have to fight the crowds on the Tidal Basin.


Contributing Writer - Clea Levinson, Intern

Part 1 of 3 - Cherry Tree Bonanza

It’s that time of year again! Tree enthusiasts and sightseers will converge on the District starting this Saturday to celebrate two weeks of cherry blossoms, culture and art at the National Cherry Blossom Festival.

This year marks the 98th celebration of the gift of 3,000 cherry trees from the people of Japan, to the City of Washington. Millions of visitors flock to the City each year to see these gifts of friendship.

While the National Park Service has predicted the cherry blossoms will be at their peak from April 3 - 8, you can can expect to see beautiful pink and white flowers for weeks after. And of course you will be entertained by a wide variety of family-friendly activities taking place across the City.

Here are a few highlighted events even a D.C. native can enjoy:

National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade
Saturday, April 10; 10:00 a.m.
Constitution Avenue between 7th and 17th Street NW

Second Annual Cherry Blast Offers an Evening of Eclectic Art:

April 2
; 9:00 p.m. - 1:00 a.m.
1701 Florida Ave, NW, Washington, DC 200

Fireworks Show with Musical Prelude

April 3; 5:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.
Waterfront Park - 600 Water Street, SW

Eighth Annual Anime Marathon Film Festival:

April 3; Times TBD
mithsonian Institution, Freer Gallery of Art - 1050 Independence Avenue, SW

The Art of Gaman: Arts and Crafts from the Japanese American Internments Camps, 1942-1946:

Mar 05, 2010 - Jan 30, 2011; Check museum hours.
Renwick Gallery - Pennsylvania Avenue at 17th Street NW

Daily Performances at Sylvan Theatre
March 27-April 11; held daily
Washington Monument Grounds - Independence Ave SW & Raoul Wallenberg Pl SW

Be sure to check the
National Cherry Blossom Festival website for the most current event information.

Later this week we will give you a brief history of the festival, the different types of cherry trees you can find in the District and locations other than the Tidal Basin to view them. So much to cover.

Don't forget. If you are a lover of cherry trees, consider planting one on your property using a $50.00
Tree Rebate.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Part 3 of 3 - Green Careers

The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), the voluntary, non-profit, professional association for arborists, is consistently exploring ways to improve the profession and business relations within their community and among their peers.

One way they are doing this is by implementing an ISA Certified Arborist's Code of Ethics to provide arborists with a resource to help guide their day-to-day decisions and establish industry standards. The Code of Ethics also sets "appropriate and enforceable professional conduct standards, and explains the minimal ethical behavior requirements" for all individuals seeking ISA Arborist certification and those already certified.

The next time you are in need of of tree care services, consider what type of person you want pruning your trees and providing you with tree selection and long term care advice. I would opt for a highly educated and trained ISA certified arborist whose conduct is guided by a strong, industry supported Code of Ethics.

Read the full ISA Certified Arborists' Code of Ethics.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Contributing Writer - Bianca Guttierrez, Intern

Part 2 of 3 - Green Careers

Earlier this week I profiled Casey Trees' Summer Crew, an eight week high school summer jobs program that introduces teenagers 16 years and older to a wide variety of green jobs as they care for Casey Trees-planted trees across the City. One of these professions is an arborist, of which there are six on staff at Casey Trees.

So what is an arborist, how do you become one and what can of job can you get as one?

An arborist by definition is a professional in the practice of arboriculture, which is the cultivation, management and study of individual trees. In layman's terms, arborists improve the quality of life in urban environments by selecting, planting and caring for trees. You have arborists to thank for our park filled and tree lined streets.

There are many different paths you can take to become an arborist.

One option is to enroll in a two or four year college program in arboriculture, horticulture, or another related field. In the Washington, DC metro area, University of Maryland at College Park offers degrees in agriculture, landscape architecture and management, plant sciences, and urban forestry. You can find a list of colleges and home study programs offering arboriculture programs on the the International Society of Arboriculture website.

The other option is jobs-skill training. There are several companies, governments, agencies and organizations that provide hands on, entry level training to individuals interested in tree care. Over a period of time, trainees learn tree identifications skills, best practices, proper tree planting and care skills and much more. Since 2007, Casey Trees has offered interested individuals the opportunity to train to become an arborist through its Urban Forestry Apprenticeship program.

No matter which path you take you will need to sit for an arborist certification exam. To ensure certified arborists continue to stay abreast of best practices and emerging threats and trends after becoming certified, certified arborists need to obtain 30 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) every three years in order to maintain certification. Many of Casey Trees' classes and programs including the Tree Summit are CEU eligible.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for arborists nationwide is expected to grow faster than average (increase 14 to 19 percent by 2018) – 217,000 new jobs nationally! Job opportunities should be good or favorable (there should be about as many jobs for arborists as there are arborists seeking jobs).

The field of arboriculture continues to grow and attract top talent. This is one case where money is growing in the trees.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Contributing Writer - Bianca Guttierez, Intern

Part 1 of 3 - Green Careers

While it is not even officially spring yet, it is time to start thinking about summer plans. If you are the parent of a teenager you can be in quite the pickle. How do you keep your teens engaged, busy and learning? The answer is simple -
Casey Trees Summer Crew.

Since 2003, the Casey Trees Summer Crew, formerly the Urban Forestry High School Internship, has provided high school students, 16 years old and up, the opportunity to develop professional skills, work outdoors and learn about "green" careers. They also earn some pocket money. Summer Crew members are paid $9.00 an hour and work 35 hours per week, Monday-Friday.

The primary responsibility of the Summer Crew is to care for Casey Trees-planted trees across the City. We don't just plant trees and walk away (nor should you). Crew members water, weed, mulch and help track the condition and health of the trees. They also man the Water By-Cycle, the nation's first bike-powered tree care program.

No prior work experience is required, just an interest in the environment and a strong desire to learn. Summer Crew members are always supervised by a Casey Trees staff member while on the clock.

Summer Crew members also get to do more than just care for trees. In the past they have climbed 100 foot trees at the U.S. National Arboretum, hiked the Oxon Run Watershed, built a rain garden with the Anacostia Watershed Society and attended professional development activities led by leaders in the green industry.

For many Summer Crew members, this hands on experience will be the start of a lifelong love affair with the environment, especially trees. In a recent survey of former Summer Crew members, every respondent replied that working with Casey Trees changed their view of the environment for the better. Nearly all of the alumni who responded still work to improve the environment whether through volunteering, schooling, or just as a hobby.

Applications for the 2010 Summer Crew are being now being accepted online. The deadline to apply is May 1, 2010. If you know of a nephew, niece, student, child, sibling, next door neighbor, etc. that might be interested, encourage them to apply.

Friday, March 12, 2010


Contributing Writer - Matt Freeman, Intern

The city can be a tough place for a tree. They not only get knocked into repeatedly by car doors and get over pruned to accommodate overhead power lines but they must deal with a long list of other hazards that their country cousins do not.

So before you think of what type of tree to plant you should make yourself aware of what potential dangers your tree might encounter in the location you plant it. By knowing what your tree will be up against you can select the most appropriate tree for that space.

While you are sitting outside enjoying your iced no whip latte here are a few things your trees are putting up with:

  • Restricted root zones – The city is a crowded place and more often than not we do not give trees the space they need to grow healthy and reach their full size. Many urban trees are placed in "tree coffins" which while not a proper technical term accurately describes what happens to trees with too small of a space for their roots to spread - they die.
  • Soil compaction – Walking instead of driving is great but trees located in heavily trafficked areas can get the short end the of the stick. Compaction can cut off water and oxygen to the tree roots.
  • High soil alkalinity from cement leaching – Cement is an amazing building material that has allowed us to make metropolises such as the District but the cement can lead to the soil being too alkaline for some trees.
  • Low soil fertility – Without a forest growing above it can be difficult to replenish the nutrients soil naturally loses over time.
  • Pollution and toxins – With all of the cars driving around the air quality in cities is usually not as nice as it should be. Trees also have to deal with these pollutants in the air and any liquid toxins that may get into their soil.
  • Vandalism – Carving the initials of your loved one into the bark of a tree may seem terribly romantic but it does absolutely nothing for the tree. Cutting into the tree can damage the phloem, xylem and cambium, compromising the tree's ability to transport nutrients and expose it to infections.
  • High winds – Paved roads and steel buildings can serve as wind tunnels making it easier for storms to fall trees if they do not have a strong root structure.
So what trees can not only survive the challenges of city life but flourish. Here is a short list:
  • Thornless Honey Locust –It is a fast growing tree that will be able to mature fast enough to protect itself from the different elements.
  • Littleleaf Linden - Unlike me it is great at tolerating the stresses of living in the city and can grow to fairly impressive size giving off plenty of shade.
  • Ginkgo biloba - Some people dislike it because of how the fruit smell, but if you get them before they fall the fruits have great health benefits. This tree handles the stresses of the city very well and the trees also turn a beautiful bright yellow in the fall.
  • European Hornbeam - It is able to withstand the different hazards and responds well to pruning.
  • Willow Oak - It is tolerant of wet and dry conditions which is good for people who forget to water their plants and then over water them.
  • Nuttall Oak - This tree is good at handling the switch from our hot summers to cool winters. It is also well equipped to handle the alkaline soil from cement leaching.
This is just a short, short list. Click here for a list of trees that we plant and do well in the City.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Contributing Writer - Matt Freeman, Intern

I remember how overwhelmed I was when I was shopping for my first car. I had no clue what to look for so the car I chose fell apart within months and was worth less than half what I paid for it. Trees may not require as much of a financial investment as purchasing a car but it is still important to know what to look for when selecting trees in a nursery so you do not choose the wrong tree or waste money.

First, look at the leaves of the tree. Leaves are indicative of the tree's overall health and the easiest to examine as long as the tree has leafed. Make sure the leaves appear healthy and are not undersized or falling off and there is no evidence of insects or pests including under the bottom of the leaf.

Second, inspect the tree to see if it has become "pot-bound". When trees remain in their container for too long their roots can become permanently stunted even after removed from their container and planted. A tree may not recover from being pot-bound, preventing it from reaching its full potential size.

To determine if a tree is pot-bound, look for the following:

  • Roots growing out of the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot;
  • Roots at the surface of the soil from growing upwards;
  • Rots growing to the end of the container and then growing in a circle around the outside edge of the container; and
  • Weeds or moss growing in the soil. This can mean that the tree has been there for too long.
Third, look for signs that the tree is still growing. Green shoots at the tips of the branches and/or new buds are the most telling signs and most commonly found in the spring/early summer.

Fourth, examine the condition of the stem and branches for any potential problems. There should only be one trunk or main stem and no damage directly to the stem or larger branches such as breakage or bark damage. It is okay if there are some broken twigs because they can be removed when pruning.

Last, ask questions, lots of questions. Nursery staff are full of knowledge and want to keep you as a customer. By sharing with them your goals and information about the planting site they can help you select the most appropriate tree. Print out the Right Tree, Right Space, Right at Home guide and bring it with you to the nursery to remind you to ask the important questions.

You can also learn more about tree selection and planting by taking one of our classes. The upcoming Treescape Design Workshops on March 31 and April 28 will help you plan a custom treescape plant just for you.

Happy tree planting!

Monday, March 8, 2010


Contributing Writer - Matt Freeman, Intern

If you have been reading our our blog for a while you have noticed how awesome we think trees are. Hopefully you now share this sentiment and want to add more trees to your yard. Going green is addictive and easy.

Admittedly, if you have never purchased or planted a tree before the process can be a bit overwhelming. What tree species do you pick, where do you plant it, how much do you water it, what to ask at the nursery, etc. are all legitimate questions. No need to feel bad about not knowing the answers. This entire week is dedicated to taking the mystery out of tree planting.

While we encourage you to attend one of our many year round
classes, workshops or volunteer opportunities for hands on experience, you can always turn to our website where we have a ridiculous amount of helpful information. So put on your pajamas, bring out the ice cream and log on from the comfort of your home.

Here are a few online resources for you:

  • How to Plant a Tree - Nothing confusing about what this is about. Whether you want to plant on a tree on flat ground or on a slope we will tell you how to properly do it.
  • Tree Care - You've planted the tree, now how do you make it survive? Simple tree care goes a long way. In addition to the basics there is a "How to Install an Ooze Tube" video in the right hand column.
  • Arbor Issues - One pagers on tree concerns in DC - sidewalks, power lines, snowstorms and even the ginkgo.
  • Urban Forest Preservation Act - Legislation can be hard to understand. We break down the Tree Act so you know what it means to you and how to handle issues such as tree removal properly and legally. No one likes a fine.
  • Tree Space Design - An award winning report with design recommendations for street trees. Did I tell you that it won an award? It did.
  • Green Issue Briefs - How do you convince others to add trees? A series of nine issue briefs on how and why to incorporate green as DC redevelops will help you win the doubters over.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Explore our entire website including the Resources page where you can find previous presentations, links to great sites and publications and much more.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


A few months back local George Washington University students Victoria Riess, Haley Lesavoy, and Mark Abramson shot a documentary titled Engage, Enlighten and Educate highlighting education at the elementary level and the impact it has on our environment's future. Who better than Casey Trees to be featured positively shaping young minds?

Word has just arrived that these documentarians in training just won the 2010 Gracie Award for Outstanding News Feature in the student market. Congratulations!

For more information on how Casey Trees engages youth in its environmental education program, click here. You can also contact Lacey Brown, Education Coordinator, at lbrown@caseytrees.org.

Now grab some popcorn or Jujubes and watch the Award Winning documentary
Engage, Enlighten and Educate.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Contributing Writer - Clea Levinson, Intern

As the weather slowly warms and thoughts of three feet of snow are distant memories, we can turn our attention to the beginnings of spring. Early March is the perfect time to watch your favorite tree go from thin branches with dormant leaves to the colorful spectacle we know and love.

We are kicking off our new Tree of the Month series by highlighting two trees that bloom purple or red before leafing out - the Eastern redbud and the Katsura tree.

The Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis) is a large shrub or small tree that is native to eastern North America. It can be found from southern Ontario to northern Florida.

The trunk tends to be dark in color and smooth and forms scaly ridges appear once mature. The leaves are alternate, simple and heart shaped. At 3-5" long and wide, they tend to be thin and papery and may be slightly hairy below. Flowers are light pink to dark magenta, and they bloom in clusters on the branches from March to May.

The Eastern redbud is a hardy, fast-growing ornamental tree that does well in dappled shade. Although you won't see them in your local Safeway any time soon, the redbud flowers and seeds are edible. Native Americans used to eat the flowers raw or boiled and the seeds roasted.

Casey Trees has planted 351 redbuds across the District including at Marie Reed Learning Center, along Massachusetts Avenue NW and Harbor Square.

The Katsura tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) is native to China and Japan.

It is a medium-sized, deciduous tree often grown for its foliage. It grows 40 to 60' tall and often has multiple trunks. The leaves of the Katsura tree are heart-shaped and go from mid-green in the spring/summer to yellow, red and orange in the fall. Katsura is the Japanese name for the tree while the scientific name refers to the resemblance of its leaves to the redbud. Not to fear, Katsura tree leaves can easily be distinguished because they are opposite, not alternate.

This tree likes a lot of sun and can get quite large given space. While fast growing, they are sensitive to drought and need permanent moist soil. It’s also been noted that in autumn the fallen leaves give off a caramel sugar smell. Take note - while they may smell like caramel, they certainly do not taste as such.

Casey Trees has planted 25 Katsura trees across the City including at St. Paul's Rock Creek Church, Our Lady Queen of the Americas and at the University of the District of Columbia.

Casey Trees plants both the Eastern redbud and Kastura at Community Tree Planting events. Both also qualify for our $50.00 Tree Rebate program.

To find all of Casey Trees-planted Eastern redbuds and Katsura trees on the Casey Trees Map, click here. I also encourage you to add any Eastern redbuds, Katsura trees or any other tree species you have recently planted or an existing one that is not included to the map.