by Grace Bateman
Since the fall of 2019, Holy Trinity has been heeding Pope Francis’ call to “Care for Creation” by planting more than 200 new trees and shrubs at Holy Rood Cemetery, with more to come. The tree planting is part of the parish’s Green Team initiative.
Holy Rood, our 6.5-acre parish cemetery established in 1832, is located on a hillside, just north of Georgetown on Wisconsin Ave., N.W. An early photograph of the cemetery shows many large trees and evergreen shrubs dotting the landscape. But as the original plantings aged and died, they were not replaced, and the green canopy all but disappeared.
In the fall of 2019, Holy Trinity made a major investment in renewing some of the landscaping at Holy Rood as part of the parish’s columbarium project there. We planted more than 130 trees and evergreen shrubs in the columbarium area and at the new entrance to the cemetery. We also planted 2,300 Winter Jasmine shrubs on the steep embankment along Wisconsin Ave., and adjacent to the columbarium crypt. These initial plantings dramatically improved the appearance and the environment at Holy Rood, but they only covered a small portion of the cemetery grounds.
In 2020, Holy Trinity and Georgetown University, owner of the cemetery, forged a partnership with Casey Trees to complete relandscaping the cemetery. Casey Trees is a nonprofit foundation that Betty Brown Casey established in 2002 to restore, enhance, and protect the tree canopy in the nation’s capital. The foundation plants a wide variety of trees free of charge, and waters them during the first year while they are becoming established. To date, Casey Trees has planted more than 25,000 trees in public space and in privately-owned areas throughout the city.
Planting trees at Holy Rood Cemetery is one of Casey Trees special projects. Since the fall of 2020, the foundation has planted 110 trees at Holy Rood, including oaks, maples, flowering trees, and evergreens. The foundation will be planting approximately 70 more trees at Holy Rood in the spring of 2022, with additional plantings in the coming years until the tree canopy at Holy Rood has been fully restored. The next time you visit or drive past Holy Rood, look up and take a moment to give thanks for the trees.