“City of Trees, A Complete Field Guide to the Trees of Washington, D.C.” by Melanie Choukas-Bradley
Saturday, February 20th and the record 70 plus inches of snow that hit Washington and Baltimore, just below the Mason Dixon line, as some may say the “South”, was melting under balmy “40 degree” weather. So out we came to walk the Capitol Hill grounds guided by Melanie Choukas-Bradley, author of “City of Trees, The Complete Field Guide to the Trees of Washington, D.C.”
Here you see her pointing to an European elm tree. Discussion ensued about the blight of the elm and how careful attention saved the American elms that line the Mall stretching below, the elms’ buds one of the first to burst.
Frederick Law Olmstead, father of modern landscape design, mapped wide expanses of walkways with round, deciduous trees placed to let the white of our Capitol shine. Here is the mottled bark dogwood tree named for Lady Bird Johnson. The First Lady during Lyndon Baines Johnson’s tenure was the first presidential wife to propose legislation and with her husband’s efforts, a bill was enacted to beautify highways and parks.
Melanie identified trees by their bark, their fruit, where they commonly grow, which were state trees and their history. She said, “If you really want to learn about trees find a park you really like and come back time and again.” Thanks to Olmstead, the trees of Capitol Hill are identified with markers so it’s to the Capitol grounds where we will return.
www.usbg.gov/ United States Botanic Garden