Landscape Committee News – August 2020

New Trees for the Mews!

The Arlington Tree Canopy Fund Fall 2020 has just awarded the Mews Community three trees. These will go in Court 1, 2, and 11, and include a Linden, a Swamp Oak, and Hackberry. The Landscape Committee will be recruiting volunteers to water the new trees when they arrive this fall.

In other news:

Most of the time people forget that there are seven distinct communities in Fairlington.  Each of the villages is different and unique, but we have commonalities as well.  Teresa Cordova from the Commons recently reached out to all the Landscape Committees across Fairlington to share information and best practices. Each community has mutual concerns from dying trees to healthy grass to landscaping companies. The hope is that we can share our problems and expertise to educate the community about what a landscape is. The hot topic today is a return to Native plants.  

So, why Native plants?  Bradford Pear, once everyone’s sweetheart, is on the ‘do not plant’ list.  Day lilies, a garden staple, are getting snubbed.  English Ivy, ground cover to end all ground covers – forget about it.  After years of planting non-natives, it’s clear that native plants are already adapted to this climate making them heat and drought tolerant, they attract insects and birds, and are just as attractive as their non-Native counterparts. For those of you who follow these posts, here is a link from May’s newsletter about planting Natives.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/welcome-bugs-into-your-yard-you-might-just-save-the-world/2020/02/20/62b0a12c-4d18-11ea-b721-9f4cdc90bc1c_story.html

The group has met twice, and there was no lack of conversation.  Whose grass looks the best?  Do organic fertilizers work?  What rules and protocols do residents follow in your neighborhood?  What special projects does everyone have?  How can we share all of this?  Which landscaping company do you use?

For the Mews, it was good to meet with other dedicated individuals who value the importance of Native plants; individuals who are moving Native plant theory into practice.  An example is the shade garden at 2934 Columbus Street in North Fairlington. The group is also planning a new monthly post in the All Fairlington Bulletin featuring articles on turf, shade gardens, and cicadas.  

This Fall the Mews team is working on creating a list of suitable Native plants to use in the Mews.  The hope is to get our landscape to a 50/50 level – half native, half non-Natives. We are already working in that direction.  The King Street Rejuvenation Project and the Conservation Garden near the swimming pool contain only Native plants.  

If you are interested in what we are doing and want to be part of our team, contact Sue Davis at shoeboxsue@gmail.com.  New members are always welcome, no green thumb required.

The Landscape Committee: Fern Birtwistle, Jamie Boone, Sue Davis, and Penny Glass

Landscape Committee News

June/July 2020

Mews – a place of retirement or concealment, especially a place for birds to molt or fatten; to confine.

What a perfect name for a quarantine location.

The Landscape Committee has not met since being mewed.  Confinement has kept us apart, but truth be told, there are few of us, and we are in need of new members. We meet once a month on the Tuesday prior to a board meeting. Members contribute by serving as a liaison between the committee and the Mews community, meeting and working with contractors, researching gardening best practices, writing newsletters, and/or taking relevant workshops or seminars. Best of all you get to meet more of your neighbors. No green thumb required, but an interest and enjoyment of plants and the environment is.   

If you are interested, contact Sue Davis at shoeboxsue@gmail.com

Dead Tree removal

Trees come and go, but the intensive drought last summer certainly took a toll on many of our trees.  Dead trees in Court 11 include a Cherry (Tag #185) and a Japanese Maple (Tag #170).  In Court 12 a Dogwood (Tag #199) is also dead.  These are scheduled for removal on July 28, weather permitting. All trees on Mews common property have been tagged and categorized.  A PDF of this list can be found here and in the Landscape section of this website.

EcoAction Arlington

The Landscape Committee has again applied for free trees, this time three, from Arlington County. A Swamp Oak was planted in Court 6 last year and is thriving.  The Landscape Committee requested trees for Courts 1, 3, and 11 this year.

If you haven’t noticed there are new trees on our property along the King Street fence.  These are part of the King Street rejuvenation project.  All are doing well mainly because we have wonderful volunteers taking care of them.  So please give a Big ‘Green’ Thumbs Up to Carolyn Creevy, Judith Guerny, Garon King, and Janice Peters and her husband.

New plant list

The Landscape Committee is working on a recommended plant list and a list of guidelines for homeowners wanting to plant around their homes.   

Conservation Garden

Progress is being made on the Conservation Garden near the single tennis court by the pool.  The quarantine hobbled initial efforts to start and now the excessive heat is a factor.  The contractor, Nate Erwin has taken time to study the area during some of the harder rain events this spring.  Seeing how and where water puddled helped inform the project direction. 

As designed, the bed- a combination of leaf mulch and sand- holds and retains water, allowing it to seep out slowly to the surrounding trees.  The bed is planted with Virginia natives with long and/or expanding roots that will assist with controlling the water flow.  The hope is that this low cost method will control water issues in that area.

End of the Year

This year has been a busy one for the Landscape Committee.  Our first meeting was last July after Judith Guerny stepped down as Committee Chair.  Fern Birtwistle and Sue Davis assumed Co-Chair positions.  Most of August was spent reviewing previous documents and determining our roles and responsibilities.

Highlights

  • Electronic waiver forms
  • Monthly newsletters 
  • Tree Tagging
  • Reestablished communications with Environmental Enhancements
  • Received free tree from EcoAction Arlington
  • King Street Rejuvenation Project started with December and March plantings.
  • Began Conservation Garden by the single tennis court
  • Creating binders for yearly activities, archival material, and native plant resources.

Ongoing Projects

  • Establishing community work days
  • Establishing a list of native plants for Mews Community
  • Establishing guidelines for Landscape Garden Waivers

Your Landscape Committee, Fern Birtwistle, Jamie Boone, Sue Davis, and Penny Glass

Landscape Committee News

May 2020

SHRUB AND TREE TRIMMING BEGIN THIS WEEK

The conservation bed beside the single tennis court is underway.  This is a relatively low-cost method of solving erosion problems. The idea is to amend the soil so more water is absorbed.  This is done by adding sand and leaf mulch to create a “dirt sponge”.  Additionally, native plants are used to sop up more of the water.  Why are we using native plants?  They have longer roots, will hold the soil in place, and will attract insects. Insects?  Shouldn’t we be getting rid of them? 

(B)iologist E.O. Wilson laid out a worst-case scenario. If insects were to vanish, he explained, so would nearly all flowering plants and the food webs they support. This loss, in turn, would cause the extinction of reptiles, amphibians, birds and mammals: in effect, nearly all terrestrial animal life. You can learn more in the link to the news story that follows this article.

This is only one avenue the Landscape Committee is pursuing to save Mews residents money.  This month is when Arlingtonians can begin applying for free trees from EcoAction Arlington. That is right, TREES.  Last year we received a large Swamp Oak for Court 6.  And yes, it is a native species.  Arlington County has been promoting a return to planting native trees.  They are better suited to our environment and hold up well in drought conditions. The committee has identified several areas where new trees are needed. 

            1.  Court 1, 2, 3 – two to three Willow Oak, Scarlett Oak or a combination of both

            2.  Court 11 – Scarlett Oak to replace dead cherry

            3.  Court 12 – American Beech

The Landscape Committee did a walkabout with Environmental Enhancements representative David Arze to identify additional problem areas.  Ivy removal always tops the list but removal is expensive.  Tackling this as a Mews community project would enhance our neighborhood, get rid of an invasive species, and save us all money in the long run.  We will send an email announcement later to see who’s up for the challenge.

Insect article: https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/welcome-bugs-into-your-yard-you-might-just-save-the-world/2020/02/20/62b0a12c-4d18-11ea-b721-9f4cdc90bc1c_story.html

Your Landscape Committee, Fern Birtwistle, Jamie Boone, Sue Davis, Penny Glass

Landscape Committee News

 April 2020

Where you live creates identity, informs culture, and serves as the basis for philosophy. For Native people, everything in nature is animate. Wherever you live, the Creator has provided everything needed for a good life. The job of the community is to know and to understand the intimate relationships that exist among the other animate components.

Trees and plants are a major part of place. Generations of Indigenous people have observed and experimented with the living organisms within their community. This has led to a deep understanding of their uses as well as the relationship to other flora and fauna in an ecosystem. All of this provides an understanding of an individuals or communitys place in the universe.

Maintaining a balance of these sustains health for all members of place – humans, plants, and animals. For this reason, health and plants, whether consumed or not, establish harmony. Sickness is always due to an improper balance within the system.

I read this the other evening and realized how seriously out of balance the world is at this moment. While we have little control over what is going on in the world right now, we can each do our best to work together and contribute to the sense of community around us. 

The landscape committee has continued to work throughout this troubling time to make improvements to the neighborhood for all to enjoy. Phase One of the King Street Rejuvenation project is complete, returning some balance to the Mews.  Trees and plants now line the Mews side of the King Street fence.  

If you haven’t had a chance, take a walk along the King Street fence to see the new landscape behind Courts 2 and 3.  This area in particular has been out of balance with standing water after rain, a perfect mosquito breeding spot.  Excessive water has led to additional tree loss, too.  Returning this space to native plants should help control this problem.

Make no mistake though, this area is not a storage area for unwanted items.  Currently, the Mews offers trash solutions for large items such as broken toys, Christmas trees, charcoal, and dead shrubs. Please do not place trash or other items in this area. Charcoal disposal is explained here:

Finallythe Landscape Committee is thankful for the residents who have volunteered to water.  Let’s give a big shout out to Tom Anderson, who is letting us use his outdoor spigot, Carolyn Creevy, Penny Glass, Judith Guerny, Garon King, and Janice and Larry Peters. 

Your Landscape Committee, Sue Davis, Fern Birtwistle, Penny Glass, and Jamie Boone