Mount Vernon donates 200+-year-old hunk of history to Belvedere


Fourth-graders look on as Mount Vernon Horticulture Director Dean Norton marks  10-year increments on the tree’s rings.

Belvedere is the honored and grateful recipient of a “tree cookie” from Mount Vernon. Dean Norton, horticulture director at George Washington’s historic home, delivered a solid slice of a white oak tree that for over 200 years graced the center of the estate’s slave cemetery.


chunk-o-tree-and-dean-nortonMr. Norton met with Ms. Cendejas’ class, which will be tending the colonial beds again in the Timeline Garden. He told the students how trees grow a ring every year and so are used to estimate a tree’s age. Together, the class counted the rings and marked every 10 years. The rings aren’t clearly defined on the outer edges, but the students easily counted 218 rings. That dates the tree to at least 1798. George Washington died in 1799.

The students were elated to learn that Mr. Norton was giving the tree specimen to Belvedere. The tree slice is half the width of the original tree, extending from bark to core. He also showed the students a special tool that determines a tree’s age without having to cut down the tree. The tree will be usable by classes studying living things, plant vascular systems, and Virginia history; shortly it also will be on view in the lobby’s glass display area.


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