NPS - National Park Service

09/28/2023 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 09/28/2023 07:37

Longfellow House Announces Tree Work Plans

September 28, 2023
Contact: Chris Beagan, 617-876-4491

CAMBRIDGE, MA - Longfellow House-Washington's Headquarters National Historic Site plans tree work throughout its two-acre grounds to support long-term tree health, reduce risk to historic structures, and enhance visitor safety. This work will also ensure that the historic character of the landscape is perpetuated into the future. All work is recommended by the site's Cultural Landscape Report (2020) and certified arborists. Planned tree work follows careful planning and expert consultation over several years.

Tree work includes corrective pruning of trees throughout the Longfellow House grounds, as well as selective removal and replacement of trees that are structurally deficient beyond repair or, in the case of trees in the formal garden, outsized to achieve their original design intent. Pruning and removal work will begin in fall 2023, with replanting to follow in spring 2024. All tree pruning and removal work will be carried out by certified arborists.

In total, twenty-two trees will be pruned; thirty-four trees will be removed; and thirty-one replacement trees will be planted. One tree that is currently missing from the historic landscape will be replaced. Four existing trees scheduled for removal will not be replaced because they are volunteers (in three cases) or were installed as visual screening that is no longer needed (in one case). All trees planned for replacement were planted by the National Park Service and are younger than thirty-five years old.

Tree pruning work includes pruning (reduction and thinning) of the heritage littleleaf linden (85" Tilia cordata) on the east lawn. This tree is pruned regularly on a five-year cycle to promote the tree's health and longevity and to reduce the risks posed by a large tree in proximity to the historic Longfellow House.

Tree removal and replacement work includes the following:

Within the formal garden, eight arborvitaes (4" Thuja occidentalis 'Brandon') will be removed and replaced with eight arborvitaes (T. occidentalis cv. 'Holmstrup'); five Leyland cypresses (5" Cupressocyparis laylandii) near the garden pergola will be removed and replaced with five cypresses (C. laylandii 'Shorty'); two flowering apricots (4" Prunus mume 'Peggy Clarke') near the garden pergola will be removed and replaced in kind; and two flowering cherries (5" Prunus serrulata 'Kwanzan') near the garden pergola will be removed and replaced in kind. These existing trees require replacement because they have outgrown their design intent and cannot be managed through pruning. Due to their size, the existing trees cast shade that adversely impacts the health of the shrubs, perennials, and annuals that strive to grow below. Replacement will perpetuate the garden's historic design into the future, while allowing all vegetation to thrive.

Along the north border of the formal garden, two volunteer trees, an American elm (8" Ulmus americana) and a northern catalpa (10" Catalpa speciosa), as well as one white pine (17" Pinus strobus) planted as visual screening in the early 2000s will be removed without replacement, as this border is now dense and continues to mature.

In front of the Longfellow House, nine American elms (Ulmus americana, including a 5" Jefferson, 7" Princeton, 7" Jefferson, 8" Washington, 10" Princeton, 13" Washington, 16" Liberty, and two 36" Liberties) will be removed and replaced with ten American elms (U. americana 'Jefferson'). This replacement includes replanting one tree that is currently missing from the historic landscape. In most cases, tree replacement is necessitated by the risk posed by the weak branching structure of existing trees or other structural deficiencies that are beyond repair. Complete replacement of this stand of elm trees is a unique opportunity to reestablish a shared canopy to frame the front of the Longfellow House.

Near the carriage house and parking area, one American elm (14" Ulmus americana 'Valley Forge') will be removed and replaced with an American elm (U. americana 'Jefferson'). The existing American elm has structural deficiencies that cannot be addressed through pruning. Two sugar maples (15" and 18" Acer saccharum) will be removed and replaced in kind. The existing sugar maples are both missing their central leaders and will never mature into healthy trees. One tulip polar (19" Liriodendron tulipifera) will be removed and replaced in kind. The existing tulip poplar has struggled to thrive and deteriorated beyond repair. One Norway maple (18" Acer platanoides) will be removed without replacement. This tree is a volunteer that grew from seed. It is an invasive species in Massachusetts and now overhangs the carriage house.

This ambitious program of tree work will improve the health and safety of trees throughout the grounds and allow the landscape to reflect its historic character into the future.

Active work areas will be clearly marked during work. Visitors are advised to follow posted signs and avoid work areas for safety. For the most up-to-date information and alerts, please visit