Autumn Garden News

October 1, 2018

The All Hallows Guild Garden Committee is busy during this autumn season identifying areas on the Cathedral’s grounds that require attention, selecting plants for the gardens, and working with the Horticulture staff to plan new projects. Here are a few of the things the Garden Committee is working on:

– The Committee has selected plants for the Sayre House hillside that will afford beautiful spring and fall color and help stabilize the hillside. To further hold the soil, we expect to install further plantings where the bamboo was removed from the wooded area adjacent to the house. Installation will be next spring.

– The Nitze Garden plantings have outgrown their space and many are failing because of increased shade. Some stubborn weeds, such as bindweed, have invaded and are choking the garden plants. The Garden Committee approved the removal of affected plants in order to reach and remove the weeds. Redesign of replacement garden beds will take place during the winter.

The Nitze Garden – Summer 2018
Pollinator in the Bishop’s Garden

-Some planting beds at St. Albans need reworking to replace the high maintenance Rhus.

-All Hallows Guild is hoping for approval to install the Pollinator Garden (recently designed by our summer interns) at National Cathedral School.

-As construction moves ahead on the Cathedral’s Garth, the Garden Committee will address the plant choices to make certain that those envisioned are best for the conditions.

-The Garden Committee will be evaluating the plantings in the beds at the front (West Entrance) of the Cathedral Close – near Wisconsin Avenue and  Hearst Circle.

-We are planning for a long-needed work yard above Pilgrim Road adjacent to the Facilities Building. This would house Horticulture materials, plants awaiting installation, a leaf shredder, and mulch, and will figure into water-control measures in the woods.

Fungi in the Olmsted Woods

-We continue to be grateful to the dedicated group of volunteers who work weekly in the Olmsted Woods pulling invasive species. They will continue to labor diligently through October on Wednesday mornings – extra volunteers are needed and welcome! After all of the recent rain the invasive ivy has been easy to pull up and the Woods Team has been making good progress. The rain has also encouraged the growth of quite a bit of interesting fungi in the woods.

In addition to fighting back invasive plants, the Woods team also does some sleuthing to identify plants growing in the woods – and in doing so they educate the rest of us! They recently identified a low-growing plant with basal leaves as Geum Canadensis, White Avens. There is quite a bit of Geum in the woods – typically tall plants that have white flowers in the spring that become burs in the autumn. We are now aware that Geum exists in two forms: the tall plant that blooms in the spring, and the low (first year) plant they recently identified. The first-year plant will grow taller next year and become the plant that we all recognize. We didn’t know that Geum is biennial, but now we do!

White Avens in the Olmsted Woods


All Hallows Guild was founded in 1916 to provide for the care and beautification of the grounds of Washington National Cathedral. The Guild works closely with the horticultural staff to preserve this historic landscape and raises funds for renovation and renewal of the gardens.


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    Washington, DC 20016


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