Our landscape architect, Olin, recommended American Elm trees for the Memorial Grove. This was not only a symbolic gesture to the historic significance of this tree, but also an opportunity to reintroduce this magnificent tree back into the American landscape.
Because of their high canopies and small leaf size this tree species provides a dappled shade, which allows enough sunlight to sustain the turf grasses growing beneath. The caliper size (thickness of the trunk) of our trees ranges from 3.5” to 8”, so visitors will get to experience large trees when the museum opens.
Before disease struck, Elm Trees lined the streets of American cities and towns with their majestic canopies. In the 1930s, Dutch Elm Disease began to wreak havoc on America’s giants, systematically removing them from the landscape. The disease was named not for its origins, but for the pioneering team of female scientists from the Netherlands, whose findings paved the way to halt its path of destruction. Their works, almost 100 years ago, launched a process that has led to the cultivation of the disease-resistant strains planted at the National Veterans Memorial & Museum.
In 2004, J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co., a wholesale tree nursery, initiated a project in cooperation with land grant universities to identify Elm varieties that were immune to Dutch Elm Disease. The best performing trees have been the Princeton, Accolade, Pioneer and Triumph, the very same trees selected to stand guard at the National Veterans Memorial & Museum.
Appropriately, variants such as the Princeton Elm were developed from trees growing at Princeton Battlefield. The battlefield was the sight of a turning point in the Revolutionary War, and an American victory. Even at the high point of disease outbreak in the 20th century, the Princeton Elms never fell, and stand proudly today.