Mount Vernon to be replanted with champion trees
Norton, horticulturist George Washington's Mount Vernon, has announced plans to
reforest the grounds consistent with the original plans that Washington drew up
for a healthy forest around his Potomac River home.
of the old trees at Mount Vernon are dying of old age and various stresses. More
than 70 have died over the past century. Only 13 of the trees planted under
Washington's direction are left.
Vernon will be reforested with clones, of "champion" trees, the
largest and often the oldest living specimens of a species. The clones are made
the old-fashioned way, by grafting buds from the champion trees onto the stocks
of young related trees.
Cates, head of the National Tree Trust, recruited the Champion Tree Project to
fill Mount Vernon's 200 acres of forest. Over the next 10 years, the project
will deliver 100 sapling clones annually to Norton, who plans to use fencing to
guard them from the deer overrunning the grounds. As many as 14 different
species will appear in a filled-out forest, Norton says.
tree clones won't necessarily grow up to be the same size as the
originals," says David Milarch, founder of the Champion Tree Project in
Copemish, Mich. "But they do have the genetic potential to grow to the size
of their parents."
As a special project, Milarch and sons Jared and Jacob have offered to clone the 13 trees still lining Mount Vernon's bowling green, sole survivors of the original landscape plan. The pair specialize in tree projects. They're planning to offer a clone of the 295-foot-high National Champion Texas Live Oak to President Bush as a belated Father's Day gift to his father, a noted supporter of the National Tree Trust.