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Thursday, October 08, 2009

Help Shaw Bloom For Years to Come: Tulip Planting on 10-31-09

Taking a cue from our neighbors in Bloomingdale, for a while I have dreamt of Shaw’s tree boxes bursting with tulips each spring. I think such spring blossoms would make our neighborhood look even more beautiful and inviting to residents, merchants and visitors alike.

To that end, Frank Asher of Old City Green and I are organizing a tree box tulip planting event for the morning of October 31, 2009. While the ultimate goal is to plant tulip bulbs in every tree box in Shaw along Seventh and Ninth Streets north of the convention center, this first planting will focus on the tree boxes between N Street and Rhode Island Avenue (the 1300, 1400 and 1500 blocks of Ninth Street). Each tree box in those blocks will receive two dozen tulip bulbs -- a mix of purple, red and dark purple tulips (see images to right for the tulips we've chosen). In conjunction with the tulip planting, the tree boxes will also receive additional mulch and soil.

The planting will kick off at Old City Green at 9:00 a.m. on October 31. We’ll have coffee, instructions, supplies, and maybe a few tools (bring your own gloves and trowels if you have them). We’ll assign volunteers tree boxes and send everyone their way. Other exciting surprises will be in store – as well as a festive and fun Halloween feel to the morning – but that’s all I’ll share for now.

Please send me an email at if you can lend a hand in planting bulbs on October 31, as we need a rough headcount.

Shaw Treebox Tulip Planting
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Meet at Old City Green at 9:00 a.m.
If you plan to attend, email me at

NOTE -- This project is being made possible by the generous support of several organizations (such as Shaw Main Streets and Shiloh Baptist Church), all of whom we’ll honor in the weeks to come and at the event.


Anonymous said...

This is a fantastic idea! Kudos to you, Old City Green and the sponsoring businesses and churches. Just curious - if tulip bulbs are planted can other flowers be planted in the tree boxes later in the spring when the tulips die away without disturbing the bulbs? (Sorry if this is a stupid question...)

Shaw Rez said...

Anon -

Not a stupid question at all!

It sounds like arborists discourage the planting of annuals (or shrubs or summer-water-requiring plants) around trees in tree boxes, as such plants compete with the trees for water and can hurt the trees during the dry summer months. Tulips basically only require water during seasons when water is typically abundant, so they shouldn't harm the trees at all, which is part of the thinking behind the planting tulip bulbs.

All that said, I fear that the tulip bulbs would likely be hurt if dug up or disturbed by planting other plants after they bloom, unfortunately.

Shaw Rez said...

Another note generally about the tree boxes:

All tree boxes on Ninth Street have iron tree box guards and a loriope grass border, for which we have Shaw Main Streets to thank. The loriope blooms purple in late summer/early fall.

Seventh Street will receive iron tree box guards in conjunction with DDOT's Howard Theater Streetscape project, the start of which I believe is delayed until next fall.

lordscarlet said...

This is a great idea! It would look fantastic. I'm a little farther west in Logan Circle, but if I have time I will try to make it over to help.

Is the city on board for this project? It seems there have been a lot of stories around the DC blogosphere this summer about the city removing resident-planted treebox items to put trees in. You may want to see what you can do to preserve the integrity of the tulips when tree planting season comes around.

Shaw Rez said...

Good thought, lordscarlet! There are 30 tree boxes in all that we'll be planting tulips in on the 31st; only a couple lack trees/have dead trees currently. I'll see if I can expedite the planting of such new trees before our tulip planting so that our tulips and the new trees can happily co-exist!

lordscarlet said...,a,1233,q,460659,greenNav_GID,1460.asp#2might be a good place to start. I would hate to see the project ruined by a well-meaning city office.