Category Archives: Trees

Rake Your Leaves!

It’s that time of year again: peak foliage. And with peak foliage comes peak-foliage-fallen-on-the-ground, and that’s where you come in. Please make sure to rake your leaves off the sidewalk. When they get wet, they present a hazard, particularly to unstable walkers. Also, if it rains they can get washed into the storm drains, clog them, and cause flooding.

The best place to put the leaves in into the tree boxes. Any day now, DPW will be heading through the neighborhood sucking up all the leaves (they’ll be composted). And it makes it easier for them and is more effective when you pile up the leaves in the tree boxes. Or you can rake them into paper bags and leave those in the tree box.

If you have any questions about the collection, check out Casey Tree’s handy article here.


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What Are Those Weird Green Brain Fruit, Again?

It’s that time of year again, when people start to wonder what the hell are those giant grain brain-shaped fruit around Georgetown. As in past years, GM is ready with the answer, as reprinted below:

This time a year, if you wonder around Montrose or Volta Parks you’re bound to find on the ground weird softball-sized green fruit like the one above. People are often so struck by the sight of the fruit, they pick up one or two of them and bring them home. But what are they, you ask?

Despite their green color, they’re oranges. Osage oranges, to be specific. They are grown by Osage trees, which line the Parrot rope walk. These trees are prevalent in the Great Plains states, where they are often planted along hedgerows. Traditionally, the pliable but strong nature of this tree’s wood made it valuable for fence posts and archery bows. Continue reading

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Leaf Peeping in Georgetown

1600 block of Avon Pl.


GM is heading up to the Berkshires this weekend to visit family. He expects to get in some serious leaf peeping. But if you’re stuck here you can still enjoy some great foliage without even leaving the neighborhood.

Casey Trees has pulled together a fantastic little tool, it’s a map of downtown DC with several different trails laid out that you can take and admire quality street tree foliage. In Georgetown it recommends a meandering trail through the heart of the village to enjoy its sugar maples:


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Tree in Trouble? Call 311



About three weeks ago, GM started to notice that the leaves at the top of the great tall sugar maple outside his home started to change. Late July is way too early for that. GM thoughts immediately went to the worst case scenario: maple decline.

It’s not overstating it to say that GM took this news only slightly less hard than if he learned a family member was sick. The tree provides beautiful dappled shade all summer long and cools the whole front of GM’s house.

Resolving to at least try to do something, GM reached out to Betsy Emes of Trees for Georgetown. Emes told him the best thing is to call 311 (or better yet, do it online) and request a tree pruning. She also instructed GM to specifically mention Trees For Georgetown. Continue reading

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Tree Watering Optional this Week

Photo by Jon Hayes Photography.

GM endeavors to remind his readers to keep watering street trees all summer long. He even forgoes advertising to put up a banner on the right to remind you (in truth, he probably wouldn’t get much for advertisements anyway).

But the truth is that it’s not necessary to water young street trees every single week. Some weeks there’s just simply is enough rain to make do. And this week is one of those weeks.

Overwatering is as much a threat to young trees as underwatering. So from now on, GM will try to keep the badge updated on the right to let you know whether you need to water your trees or not. Continue reading

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Old Elm Was at Least 50 Years Old



Earlier this month, GM noticed that one of the grand American elms on Q St. was dead. Shortly afterwards, the city came and cut the tree down, hopefully preventing any cross-infection with its neighbors.

GM was curious, so he swung by and counted the tree rings. He’s no expert, but it appeared that there were at least fifty rings. A poke around the Internet suggests that an American elm of that size could indeed by only that old.

American elms were incredibly popular street trees before the dreaded Dutch elm disease started to spread after arriving on these shores in the 1930s. They were chosen both because of the amazing arching canopy mature elms create, but also their rapid growth.

It’s that second trait that gives hope. Over the years, several cultivars of American elms have been identified that are resistant to Dutch elm disease. Arborists have enough faith in the new variants that they are aggressively planting new generations of American elms to replace those that are still dying off. Continue reading

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Support Georgetown’s Trees



One thing that strikes GM every time he puts together a Now and Then post is just how much healthier Georgetown’s tree canopy was decades ago. Some of this can be attributed to climate change, but a large part of it can be attributed to the many years that DC simply didn’t renew the stock of trees. As the old trees died off naturally, there weren’t any newly mature trees to take their place.

We’re still paying for those many years of negligence, but the city and organizations like Casey Trees and Trees for Georgetown are trying to replenish our streets with new generations of trees. And that’s where you can come in. Continue reading

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