A morning in the weeds

Preparing for a Weeding Day at Dumbarton Oaks Park, Washington, D.C./enclos*ureIs this not a picture of fun? Two buckets full of loppers, pruners, saws, and even a couple of machetes.

Our recent visit to Washington, D.C., coincided with a September Saturday “Weeding Day” at Dumbarton Oaks Park, sponsored by the Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy.  I have wanted to volunteer for one of these days for a couple of years — ever since learning about the group’s efforts to restore this Beatrix Farrand masterpiece, which is located behind the more famous Dumbarton Oaks Gardens.

The stream and a dam at Dumbarton Oaks Park, Washington, DC -- a Beatrix Farrand masterpiece now undergoing restoration/enclos*ure
Owned by the National Park Service since 1940, the park has suffered from invasive exotic plants and water runoff.

The morning started with  Ann Aldrich, the Conservancy’s Program Director, making sure we knew how to recognize poison ivy.  Then we all doused our exposed skin in Tecnu, a soap that mitigates the effects of exposure.

We learned that poison ivy was not one of the weeds we would be pulling — it is native to the area and an important source of (protein) food for birds.

Poison Ivy plus invasive weeds at Dumbarton Oaks Park/enclos*ure
(Good) poison ivy surrounded by (bad) porcelain berry, English ivy, Japanese stilt grass, and liriope.

Our enemies were Japanese stilt grass, pokeweed, English ivy, tree of heaven, wild grape, porcelain berry vine,* and multi-flora rose.

We were clearing a meadow area just above the stone pump house (no. 2), on the right in the drawing below.

Plan of Dumbarton Oaks Park, Washington, D.C./enclos*ure

Below is a picture of the area before we started. . .

A meadow in Dumbarton Oaks Park before pulling invasive weeds/enclos*ure

And below is what it looked like after we finished (about 3 1/2 hours later).  We probably would have cleared out more above the old log, but there was a bees’ nest on the other side.

A meadow at Dumbarton Oaks Park after pulling invasive weeds/enclos*ure

Ann has spent many a weekend this summer leading garden enthusiasts, college students, and D.C. schoolchildren in “weed warrior-ing.”  There is so much to do, and I am so impressed with the group’s ambitious commitment to this lovely place.

The stream at Dumbarton Oaks Park, now under restoration/enclos*ure

As I was leaving, I stopped to admire the Arts and Crafts-style stonework of the dams that Farrand installed all along the little stream that runs through the park.

Stone work slated for repair by the Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy/enclos*ure

The Conservancy was just about to have a contractor make repairs to this area when the government shutdown put a halt to even volunteer efforts. (The Conservancy supports and is supervised by the National Park Service.)  I  hope the work is underway now.  Earlier this year, the group was able to place compost filter socks (below) near the Lovers’ Lane entrance to the park.

Compost filter socks in Dumbarton Oaks Park, Washington, DC. The park is undergoing restoration/enclos*ure

They are preventing further damage from the water runoff that comes shooting down the small asphalt road that runs along Dumbarton Oaks Gardens.

The entrance to Dumbarton Oaks Park, Washington, DC/enclos*ure

I had a great time and I will definitely do it again when we move back to Washington (the park is an easy walk from our house).  If you live in the D.C. area and would like to help, click here and ask to be put on the Conservancy’s mailing list.

Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy is also holding a fundraiser on November 7, 6:30 p.m., at The Josephine Butler Parks Center.  Author Richard Guy Wilson will speak on “Edith Wharton at Home:  Life on the Mount.”  (Wharton was Farrand’s aunt.)  Tickets are $35; click here for more information.


* Farrand actually specified porcelain berry vine to be grown over her arbors, which just makes me shudder.

2 thoughts on “A morning in the weeds

  1. Hi, Cindy! I’m a little behind on reading my favorite blogs……bit hectic. Really enjoyed meeting you 🙂 That was a wonderful treat and a surprise. And shame on me: I’ve never been to this park. Putting it on my list. Speaking of Beatrix Farrand, we visited her last home, Garland Farm, in Maine this past summer. I need to write a post on GF. Soon, I promise.
    Cheers,
    Loi

    1. Even though it’s right behind Dumbarton Oaks, the park is rather hidden. You have to walk down a little road between D.O. and Montrose Park. There’s quite a bit of damage from erosion, but you can still appreciate the beautiful design. How lucky to visit Garland Farm!

      It was so good to meet you too!

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