Landscape Committee News

December 2020

Oh Deer

Ten years ago or so I was working on an education project with Lakota (part of the Sioux Nation which includes the Dakota and the Nakota) elders.  We had spent most of the first day with introductions and prayers, to open minds and to remind each other that everyone had something to offer.

I got home to a beautiful spring evening and decided to sit behind my house so I could reflect on the day.  To my surprise, a young male deer was also sitting behind the house, next to a fence that separates Fairlington Mews from the I 395 on-ramp.  We eyed each other for a bit.  I sat and watched him and he watched me.  Being so close to a large wild animal was intimidating. I finally decided to go in the house, and as far as I knew the deer stayed there until nightfall.

I was puzzled by all of this as it was not a common occurrence to have deer just sitting  in the Mews. I wondered if the Lakota elders could shed some light on what happened.  We discussed it at lunch the next day and it was Duane Hollow Horn Bear who provided the best explanation.

“It sounds like the deer nation are breaking winter camp and moving to their summer home.  What do you do when a relative visits?  Your grandmother, or auntie, a favorite cousin?  You greet them. You are happy to see them. You invite them into your house, give them a special meal, and provide lodging.  When they leave you wish them safe travel.”

“Do the same for the deer.  Thank him for his visit.  Remind him to travel safely and to watch out for humans.  They do not always see the deer nation by the roads.  Also remind him that you too will watch out for his relatives as you travel.”

“Mitakuye Oyasin – we are all relatives.”

This lesson has stayed with me for a long time, and it is a lesson that is being applied in the Mews, and throughout the Fairlington community.  By introducing more native plants to Fairlington, all of the Landscape Committees are also inviting more native habitants from birds, to insects, to mammals, and reptiles to our neighborhood. Think about how you will greet them when they arrive as we are all indeed relatives.

To learn more lessons from the Lakota visit Oceti Sakowin (Seven Council Fires):

Hear additional stories from Duane Hollow Horn Bear at:


New trees will be planted the week of December 14 or 21 in Courts 1, 3, and 11. 

Moore and Wright are scheduled to come December 21 and 22 and December 28, 29, and 30.


Have you noticed the new garden upgrades in Courts 7 to 15?  Some of the gaps have been refreshed with small “bugscapes” using native plants. Nate Erwin, a student of Douglas Tallamy, has been hard at work installing the gardens.  He’ll start on Courts 1 to 6 next spring.

Happy Holidays from the Landscape Committee – Fern Birtwistle, Sue Davis, Penny Glass, and Judith Guerny (emeritus).

Landscape Committee News

November 2020Trees, Trees, and More Trees!

Behind Court 3

This area of the Mews has been lucky enough to receive more trees than any other this year.  Many came with the King Street Rejuvenation project.  With help from Court 2 and others, the trees were watered all summer and are in good shape.  The Landscape Committee is dismayed to report that someone has been breaking limbs off several of the Sweetbay Magnolia.  This is senseless vandalism, especially when your condo fees paid for the trees.


As many of you know, the Mews was awarded three new trees from EcoArlington.  They will arrive sometime after November 16 and are going to Courts 1, 3, and 11.  Small stakes mark the spots for the placement of the new trees.  

The Mews is applying for more trees from Eco Arlington for spring planting.  Several areas have already been designated in Courts 1 and 6.  If you think your court needs a tree please let the Landscape Committee know.

Moore and Wright  

Residents may remember from years past that Moore and Wright come in November to trim trees and to remove dead ones.  They return this November as well, but will be doing more extensive work.  The last two summer droughts have been hard on many of our trees, even native and well-established ones.  There are at least six dead trees slotted for removal and several older struggling trees that will be removed in the next year or two. 

One of the biggest budget items, however, are the crepe (or crape) myrtles that require extensive pruning. The crepe myrtles are summer bloomers and loved by many residents.  They are also a non-native tree with little to offer the other fauna in this environment. As a result they grow like weeds and need pruning, often, this year about eight thousand dollars worth. As these decline, they will be replaced with native trees that require less maintenance.   

King Street Rejuvenation Project

Finally, Merrifield Garden Center arrives on Monday, November 30 (weather permitting) for the final installation of trees and shrubs behind Courts 4 and 5.  Tree stewards are still needed.  Please let Sue Davis know if you are interested at    

The Landscape Committee, Fern Birtwistle, Suzanne Davis, Penny Glass, and Judith Guerney (emeritus) 

Landscape Committee News – October 2020

Landscape Improvements Coming

Many of the landscaping issues at the Mews are those of our own, that is human, creation. Rain run off is always a problem. Besides causing erosion and polluting the water systems, it creates swampy areas. So why is there rain run off anyway? This happens when permeable landscape is paved. The water has no where to go other than to run off and cause erosion.

There are always consequences to human action, but human needs usually win. Do we need a wider roadway here? Let’s add a sidewalk? And what about expanding that parking area? Each of these seem like a small action, and citizen safety is foremost, but in the end the land suffers.

One example is the land on the Mew’s side of King Street. The area has changed from a dry environment to one that is almost always damp. This is because there is significant run off from King Street. Water tolerant Native trees and shrubs were chosen for replacement that not only absorb the water but thrive.

With that said, Fairlington Mews is moving forward with an All Fairlington initiative to return the property to Native plants. Where to begin? Needless to say, we can not rip out everything and start anew. What we can do is identify areas for improvement. One way to begin is with ivy removal. Starting this autumn and into next spring, the Landscape Committee will do just that.

King Street has been a focus for the Landscape Committee this past year, so we decided to start with the courts across the road (the back nine?), that is Courts 7 thru 15. Ivy covered areas in Court 7 and in Court 12 have been chosen. Once Environmental Enhancements removes the ivy, our contractor, Nate Erwin, will assess the sun exposure, create a design, choose the plants, amend the soil, and then create an insect friendly environment.

“Planting these bare areas with (native) shrubs and perennials that will hold the soil in place and enhance pollinator and other wildlife diversity, will improve the overall biological diversity of the neighborhood. These plantings would also enhance the established conservation garden planted along the edge of the tennis court near the swimming pool.” Nate Erwin

I will be coming around personally, knocking on doors, to ask your assistance in watering these new plantings this autumn.

Happy Fall,

Fern Birtwistle, Jamie Boone, Sue Davis, and Penny Glass