Summer
Summer Highlight, 2017

Summer Highlight, 2017

June 20, 2017
Hydrangeas are one shrub many people recognize. Huge, puffy globes of blue and pink flowers easily come to mind.

A new hydrangea, H. arborescens, or the "Incrediball," might be one that's a little less known.

This incredible, deciduous mounding shrub is covered with huge 12-inch sized balls of white flowers throughout the summer. Plant breeders are to thank for the lack of floppy flowers. These hydrangeas have sturdy, upright stems that keep the flowers from flopping on the ground. As with most hydrangeas, the "Incrediball" makes a wonderful cut flower.

It will thrive in full sun with a watchful eye on soil moisture. It will need much less attention if planted in partial sun.

Columbarium Court 7 is currently the only location in the cemetery with these gorgeous hydrangea shrubs. The Memorial Arboretum Team is working to place more in other locations.

Memorial Arboretum
Summer
Summer Highlight, 2016

Summer Highlight, 2016

July 20, 2016

Liquidambar styraciflua

The sweetgum tree, Liquidambar styraciflua may have a bit of a bad reputation but our first President must have thought highly of it when he gave thirteen saplings of this North American native to Alexander Hamilton, the nation's first Treasury Secretary. Washington meant for them to symbolize the unity of the thirteen colonies. Hamilton, in turn, gave them a prominent spot at his Lower Manhattan estate, Hamilton Grange.

The sweetgum tree's bad reputation probably stems from the spikey, sphered fruit that covers the ground in late winter. The tree, however, has much to offer and the fruit issue is easily remedied by removing the turf underfoot and replacing it with a skirt of light mulch. The sweetgum's leaves are very similar in appearance to maple tree leaves and are a glossy dark green during the summer months. The fall colors are brilliant as well, ranging from gold, to red to purple, often these variances show up on a single tree! Sweetgum are large trees, reaching heights of 60-70’ tall and are, therefore, best planted where they will have plenty of space to grow.

Arlington National Cemetery has 124 sweetgum trees. A few are located along the road in Section 8, others in the valley area where Section 10 and 12 meet, and in Section 2 at the Kearney Monument.

The Section 2 sweet gum is a descendant of a sweet gum tree at Stratford Hall, home to four generations of the Lee family, including Richard Henry Lee and Francis “Lightfoot” Lee, who both signed the Declaration of Independence, and more famously Robert E. Lee.