A "Patriotic Tree" now graces the front lawn of River Farm, the home of the American Horticultural Society. It was dedicated last Friday "to the people who protect us."
Presented to District II, National Garden Clubs, the tree was awarded to the National Capital Area Garden Clubs in recognition of their gaining the most new members in 2005. "River Farm was selected as the site to plant the tree since that is where District II holds its meetings," explained Babs McClendon, director, District II.
The Patriotic Tree Program is designed to "encourage everyone to plant a tree in honor of those who have served our country in a patriotic way either in civilian or military life," according to McClendon. "These trees are to show our appreciation to our firefighters, police, EMTs and members of the armed forces," she said.
Included among the guests was Lorraine Rodgers, U.S. Army Air Corps veteran who served as a pilot during World War II. She was joined by Lt. Col. Suzanne Devlin, deputy chief, Fairfax County Police Department; Lt. Michael Profitt and Master Police Officer Greg Kottemann, both from Mount Vernon District Office, Station 9 Unit, Fairfax County Police Department; and Mount Vernon District Supervisor Gerald Hyland.
Donated by Mount Vernon Estate's chief horticulturist, Dean Norton, the five feet tall white ash was cloned from one plant by Washington on his home plantation. "It was planted here overlooking the Potomac River, just as Washington himself might have done," McClendon said.
Others participating in the 30 minute ceremony were Shirley Nicolai, National Garden Club, 3rd Vice President; Rilla Crane, 1st Vice president, National Capital Area Garden Clubs; Katy Moss Warner, president emeritus, American Horticultural Society; and Mary and Samuel McCutchen, club members.
Composed of 31 garden clubs located in the City of Alexandria as well as Fairfax and Prince William counties, District II, in addition to promoting gardening and flower arranging, is active in working with children and advancing gardening therapy with nursing homes and various elder day care facilities. Members are also expanding the Blue Star Memorial Highway Project honoring those who have served in America's wars.
Established in the 1940s, Blue Star Memorial markers are placed along designated highways as a tribute to military service personnel. The one on Route 1 is located just inside Fort Belvoir's Lieber Gate. It is decorated with a specially made wreath from Fort Belvoir Garden Club each Memorial Day.
Those interested in learning more about joining a garden club should contact McClendon at email@example.com or by calling 703-360-0920.