Hundreds of landscape volunteers will lend their time and expertise on a project that honors America on two of its most iconic and patriotic open green spaces.
“We must cultivate our garden,” Voltaire famously advised. That will happen on a large scale July 19 when hundreds of landscape industry professionals convene at Arlington National Cemetery and the National Mall, volunteering during one of their busiest times of the year, to protect the historic cherry trees, enhance the turf, and improve irrigation systems.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Renewal & Remembrance event, organized by the National Association of Landscape Professionals. It has heightened significance because it’s the first in-person event NALP has hosted since January 2020.
“These two green spaces are two of the most public and important green spaces we have in the U.S.,” said NALP CEO Britt Wood. “Our members feel like it’s an opportunity to give back, and it’s an honor for them. It’s a way to supply their expertise to a great part of America.”
This year’s event is expanding to the National Mall for the first time. Since COVID-19 restrictions limited the scope of what volunteers could accomplish at Arlington Cemetery, one of NALP’s supplier members, John Deere, facilitated a connection with the National Park Service and the Trust for the National Mall.
It was one of the silver linings of the pandemic. “We had more volunteers than we could use at Arlington National Cemetery, and now we have a wonderful opportunity to work with the Trust for the National Mall and the National Park Service moving forward,” Wood said.
Projects at Arlington National Cemetery include lightning protection for nine historic trees and irrigation repair, as well as upgrades at the Columbarium and other buildings. On the Mall, volunteers will help preserve the cherry trees near the Washington Monument and perform needle tining—a form of aeration. In addition, they’ll be slicing the turf at the West Potomac Park sports fields—also reopening this week—in preparation for new, durable grass to be installed in the future.
“It’s very appropriate timing for everything,” Wood said. “We’re glad to be able to provide the service that’s going to make sure those green spaces are nice and healthy and ready for some foot traffic.”
Renewal & Remembrance will begin with concurrent opening ceremonies at Arlington Cemetery and at the cherry tree grove near the Washington Monument. The ceremonies are often emotionally charged because the event got started as a way for members to remember loved ones interred at Arlington.
“It’s honoring the troops and everyone who has given their lives, so we can live the way we live,” Wood said. “I can think of no better way to get my folks back together in person again than by doing something significant like Renewal & Remembrance.”