Friday, May 26, 2017

Garden Spotlight: Discovering American Cemetery Gardens in Europe

Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in Belleau, Northern France.

By Diana Lambdin Meyer
Garden Destinations, Spring 2017

On the day before Memorial Day (Sunday, May 28, 2017) in the U.S., children in and around Montfaucon, France will lay more than 14,000 long stemmed red roses on the graves of American servicemen who gave their lives here in the final days of World War I. This is the site of the Meuse-Argonne Cemetery, the largest American burial ground on foreign soil. It is hallowed ground and a masterpiece of landscape design and gardening.

Among the most beautiful gardens in Europe are the American cemeteries managed by the American Battle Monuments Commission, a federal agency formed in 1923, just five years after the end of WWI, to properly maintain the final resting places of 124,905 soldiers and American civilians who lost their lives in service to the United States. There are 25 cemeteries and another 26 monuments or markers on foreign soil that honor this sacrifice from other wars, including the 94,000 who are listed as missing in action or were buried at sea.

The ABMC employs 73 gardeners to maintain the meticulous landscapes, designed by French-born, Philadelphia architect Paul Phillipe Cret and overseen by General John Pershing, leader of the American Expeditionary Forces in Europe during World War I.

The original plan for the eight World War I cemeteries in France, Belgium and England was void of flowers of any kind, instead focusing on both evergreen and deciduous trees and shrubs to create a distinctly American look in Europe. However, by the time work began in the 1930s, French and Belgian citizens living near the burial grounds had already planted a number of roses and other perennials at the American cemeteries. Not only would it have been a shame to destroy healthy, well-established flower beds, it would not have been a good community relations move. The land for all cemeteries has been deeded to the U.S. Government in perpetuity at no charge.

The first to be completed was the Flanders Field American Cemetery at Waregem, Belgium, a six acre cemetery honoring 43 soldiers missing in action and 368 burials. The original planting list, precisely maintained today, includes maple, birch, elm, oak, Swiss poplar, flowering plum and weeping willow.

Flanders Field American Cemetery. Photo by the American Battle Monuments Commission.

Square hedges of Norway spruce and English yew, trimmed to 1.3 meters by .5 meters, are complemented by additional hedges of small leaf boxwood and dwarf boxwood with equally detailed trim specifications outline the burial spaces. Hibernica yew, oval leaf privet and Irish ivy can also be found throughout the cemeteries.

Mixed colors of standard roses fill various beds and pink and red climbing roses adorn the wrought-iron fences to the cemetery. Additional flower beds are filled with blood red wallflowers and a blue pansy border in the spring. Summer flowers include rose geraniums and blue lobelia borders.

Although the size and design varies, these plantings are the basis of all American cemeteries on European soil. And of course, red poppies, the official flower of World War I based of the poem by Lt. John McCrae, can be found in paper or plastic forms around the gravesites and monuments, left by respectful citizens visiting from the around the world.

The US did not enter the war until April 1917 and already millions of lives had been lost in France and Belgium. So as we remember the lives lost during those brutal four years of global conflict, American and otherwise, we can also quietly give thanks for the efforts of so many volunteer and professional gardeners who keep their final resting places so beautiful.

Diana Lambdin Meyer is a travel writer whose grandfather, Sgt. Wilbert Eastman, survived the trench warfare of World War I and came home to find peace in his own little garden in southern Illinois.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

2016 Durham's Finest Trees: The Winners

FIRST in FINEST: Lemur Center Dawn Redwood.
Photo by Wendy Diaz, Durham Co. Master Gardener.
Winners of the 2016 Durham's Finest Trees (DFT) program were announced at the Trees Over Durham meeting in April. The DFT program is in part managed by the NC Cooperative Extension Durham County Master Gardener program and Durham's Sustainability Department.

Durham's Finest Trees program recognizes significant trees in Durham County, promotes discovery and ability to identify trees, and helps preserve the best examples of specific tree species, particularly native and those trees well adapted to Durham County. The program also promotes awareness of trees in the Durham community and hopes to catalog fine examples of magnificent specimens of trees due to their size, setting, historical importance, or significant feature.

Durham tree lovers of all ages are invited to submit their nominations for significant trees in Durham County on a rolling basis.  The next deadline is October 1, 2017 for 2017 nominations ( Nominations received prior to October 1 of each year will be considered for awards that year. Anything received after October 1st will be considered in the following year. Trees on private or public property can be nominated in each of the three categories: largest, historical, or meritorious. Preference will be given to native North Carolina tree species. Non-native trees may be considered if they are of a species, subspecies, variety or cultivar proven to be relatively long-lived and well-adapted to North Carolina. Winning trees will be recognized on Durham's Arbor Day. Please read the official rules before submitting a nomination.

The following 2016 DFT winners were all measured for girth by Durham Co. Master Gardeners Wendy Diaz and Robin Barth. NC Extension Foresters measured the trees for height using a tool called a clinometer. See the Extension publication of how to measure a tree:

Winning tree photos were taken by Wendy Diaz.

1. Lemur Center Dawn Redwood (Large/Historical Category) - 94 feet high, 102 inch circumference, 61 feet canopy; (private property, view from street/parking lot) 3705 Erwin Road/Duke Lemur Center. Photo taken December 1, 2016.

2. Cranford Rd. Dawn Redwood (Large) - 106 feet high, 110.5 inch circumference, 57 feet canopy; (private property, view from street) 2260 Cranford Road/Duke Lemur Center. Fall photos December 1, 2016.

3. Virginia Av. Loblolly Pine (Large) - 99 feet high, 103 inch circumference, 52 feet canopy; 2244 W. Club Blvd & Virginia Ave. These photos were taken October 29, 2016.

4. Main Street Ash (Large) - 54 feet high, 146 inch circumference, 65 feet canopy; 403 E. Main St. Photos taken October 29, 2016.

5. Parkwood East. Cottonwood (Large) - 68 feet high, 98.5 inches circumference, 66 feet canopy (view from the street/parking lot); beside Parkwood baseball field.
Photo taken  May 18, 2017.


6. Parkwood Catalpa (Large) - 43 feet high, 85 inches circumference, 44 feet canopy; In front of Parkwood Manor & east side of Revere Rd. Photographs taken October 26, 2016.

7.  Stagville Plantation Osage Orange (Historical) 4 trunks - 70 feet high, 45 inches circumference, 50 feet canopy; 5828 Old Oxford Hwy. Photos taken September 16, 2016 Photograph is of an adjacent Osage Orange Tree with unusual fruit.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

BOOKS: The Foodscape Revolution: Finding a Better Way to Make Space for Food and Beauty in Your Garden

The Foodscape Revolution: Finding a Better Way to Make Space for Food and Beauty in Your Garden
Author: Brie Arthur
Publisher: St. Lynn's Press (March 15, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1943366187
ISBN-13: 978-1943366187

From Amazon...

Foodscaping visionary Brie Arthur looks at under-utilized garden spaces around homes or in the landscaped common spaces of planned communities – and she sees places where food can be grown…lots and lots of it. And not in isolated patches, but inter-planted with non-food ornamental plants for year-round beauty. This is a new way of looking at public and private spaces, where aesthetics and function operate together to benefit individuals and entire communities. In The Foodscape Revolution, Arthur presents her status-quo-shaking plan to reinvent the common landscape – in a way that even HOA’s would approve. Call it food gardening “in plain sight,” and having it all.

In this entertaining and informative book, you’ll learn which edible and ornamental pairings work best to increase biodiversity, how to situate beds to best utilize natural water and light resources, and most importantly, how to begin an enriched gardening lifestyle that is beneficial, sustainable and empowering. With full-color photos, design plans, simple projects and bountiful tips, The Foodscape Revolution can be life-changing.