Farrand’s Flyer, December 2014

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Visitors Leaving Dumbarton Oaks Park after a Winter’s Day Walk in 1945.

Happy Holidays to You!

For many of us, December is a time of year dedicated in part to baking holiday cookies and hanging colorful Christmas lights, spending time with family and lighting the Menorah. With the new year of 2015 rapidly approaching, this month is also a time for new beginnings. In light of this, Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy welcomes you to this first ever edition of Farrand’s Flyer, a monthly electronic newsletter taking its name from Beatrix Farrand, the pioneering female landscape architect that designed the Park almost 100 years ago. Our e-newsletter is designed to keep you engaged, excited, and informed about Dumbarton Oaks Park and its bold restoration efforts. Happy holidays and please enjoy this inaugural edition.


Hot Off The Press from The Washington Post: The slow rebirth of Dumbarton Oaks Park


2014 in Review: Another Successful Year for Dumbarton Oaks Park

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Conservancy Volunteers Plant Native Trees Around Newly Placed Stormwater Triage Logs

From a record-setting number of hours worked by volunteers in the Park this year to the four highly efficient, low-tech, low cost regenerative stormwater projects, 2014 was a truly transformative year for the Park and the Conservancy. Thanks to hardworking volunteers, staff, and partners; thoughtful donors; and generous grants; here is a sampling of highlights of the work we completed this year…

6,124 Hours of work completed by community and student group volunteers.

2,000 Native ferns and sedges planted throughout the Beech Grove (at entrance) to stabilize soil and combat invasive plants.

1,000 Native, blue-flowering Virginia bluebells planted in the Beech Grove.

303 Trees saved from the choke-hold of invasive, non-native vines including porcelainberry, oriental bittersweet, Japanese honeysuckle, and English ivy.

100 Native trees planted on the Dumbarton Oaks slope of the Beech Grove, in partnership with Casey Trees.

41 Leave No Child Inside events conducted for urban youth by our education program coordinator. These programs introduced children to park stewardship and the natural beauty of a wild garden.

27 Acres of shaded woodlands, wildflower meadows, rustic bridges, waterfalls, and trails in Dumbarton Oaks Park.

4 Highly efficient, low-tech regenerative stormwater systems installed in order to improve soil, increase groundwater supply, and significantly mitigate stormwater runoff. Projects included the construction of triage log dams (see photo above), wooden check dams, and extensive matting systems.

2 Meadows restored and reseeded with native, warm season grasses.

2 Successful educational programs led by meadow expert Larry Weaner focusing on the principles and protocols for restoring two of our five urban meadows.

1 Dumbarton Oaks Park, a bucolic oasis for city dwellers, a portal into one of the great periods in American landscape design and the last surviving wild garden designed by Beatrix Farrand.

1 Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy, working to restore, promote, and maintain this historic landscape for the enjoyment of all people for all time.

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Boys and Girls Club Members from the DC Department of Parks and Recreation Program Remove Japanese Stiltgrass from the Park, Summer 2014


Winter Break Day Camp and Upcoming Volunteer Events

While December 27th is our next open-to-all volunteer day in the Park, elementary school students are invited to attend the Conservancy’s first ever winter-break day camp. The three-day camp, running from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on the Monday, Tuesday, and Friday of New Year’s week, has a theme of winter adaptations. Buckets of fun, exercise, and restoration education is guaranteed! Click here for details on the camp, and click here for volunteer information.


A Commendation Award from the Garden Club of America

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From Left to Right: Helen Dubois, Lindsey Milstein, Ann Aldrich, Suzie Bissell, and Rebecca Trafton

In November, Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy leadership was honored to accept an Historic Preservation Commendation from Zone 6 of the Garden Club of America, sponsored by the Georgetown Garden Club and seconded by the Perennial Garden Club. The commendation was given to the Conservancy for “undertaking the herculean task of restoring and preserving Beatrix Farrand’s Dumbarton Oaks Park, an American treasure in the heart of Georgetown.”


Scott’s History: Beatrix Farrand and “Christmas Greens” Conservation

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It is probable that few people realize how much widespread destruction our cheerful demand for Christmas greens entails; our Holly wreathes and Laurel and Ground-pine roping have meant corresponding losses to our woodlands. – Beatrix Farrand

These words were written in 1922, the exact time Farrand was implementing design plans for what today is known as Dumbarton Oaks Park.

Indeed, while most of us remember Farrand for her work as a professional landscape architect, she was also a conservationist. An admirer of both rugged and cultivated beauty, in an article published in the Bulletin of The Garden Club of America, Farrand lamented the fact that some of her favorite plants – the Southern longleaf pine, American holly, etc. – were being depleted by the demands brought forth by order of Christmas decorations. She explained the situation and then, to protect the forest, offered remedies.

“A good wreath of Holly is made up of fully thirty or forty of the finest young berried twigs of an average of two years growth. The cases of Holly sold in all the large florists’ shops and markets at Christmas time… contain a minimum of six hundred years of growth,” the landscape architect that broke the gender barrier wrote. “It is therefore not difficult to understand why Holly has been practically exterminated from the state of Connecticut and is growing difficult to find in New Jersey and nearby states.”

How to fix this problem of ‘over-wreathing’? Farrand suggested buying Christmas greens only from nurseries that had grown their hollies, laurels, and pines on-site and not taken them out of the woods. “The Christmas destruction in our woodlands will largely decrease if we use more potted trees and plants.” She also suggested increasing the use of fake leaves and branches. Even though artificial plants were more expensive upfront than living plants in the 1920s, Farrand noted that “artificial leaves and branches…do not fade and [do not] have to be replaced each year.”

While almost 100 years later we fortunately still have hollies, laurels, and pines in our forests (look for American holly and the one remaining mountain laurel in Dumbarton Oaks Park next time you are there), Farrand’s article reminds us to make sure this is always the case.

Source Citation: Carmen Pearson, Editor. The Collected Writings of Beatrix Farrand, American Landscape Gardener, 1872-1959. Lebanon, New Hampshire: University Press of New England, 2009. Page 110-111.

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Meadow Expert Larry Weaner Leads a Discussion in the Meadow he Helped to Restore this Year with Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy and Rock Creek Park of the National Park Service


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