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National Mall on the Washington Monument grounds; entry on 1600 Constitution Avenue, NW

Completion Date: 11/14/13

Project Scope: 
National Mall and Memorial Parks
The German Embassy
Ruppert Nurseries
Oehme Van Sweden Landscape Architects

Partner Organizations:
National Mall and Memorial Parks
The German Embassy
Ruppert Nurseries
Oehme Van Sweden Landscape ArchitectsThe German Embassy in Washington, DC has announced its hosting of a festive re-dedication ceremony onsite at the German-American Friendship Garden, on Friday, April 11th, 2014 at 3:00 PM. The Friendship Garden is situated at one of Washington’s finest addresses, at the National Mall on the Washington Monument grounds entry on 1600 Constitution Avenue, NW.The German Embassy Friendship Garden re-dedication activities will include an address by Ambassador Dr. Peter Ammon, Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, and a welcome address of Robert Vogel, Superintendent of the National Mall & Memorial Parks of the National Park Service, followed by a presentation of “German-American Friendship Award.”Additionally, the National anthem of the Federal Republic of Germany and National anthem of the United States of America will presented by the Mc Lean Symphonic Orchestra (an exchange program with Germany).

Dr. Ammon will highlight the Friendship Garden restoration, renewal and re-dedication, and acknowledge the participating volunteer donors on hand at the event, including Project EverGreen, a non-profit green industry foundation, and its DC area-based contractor volunteer partner, Ruppert Nurseries, and participants from Oehme Van Sweden Landscape Architects. Coincidentally, Ruppert Nurseries and Oehme Van Sweden were reunited on the recent restoration project, years after participating in the original Friendship Garden design and construction.

Last November 12th through 14th, as part of an agreement in principle with the National Park Service, Project EverGreen coordinated with National Mall and Memorial Parks officials, The German Embassy, Ruppert Nurseries and Oehme Van Sweden Landscape Architects, to jointly donate the planning, nursery stock, crews and equipment needed to enable the pro bono landscaping renewal installation of the German-American Friendship Garden. The installation was originally scheduled to take place in time for the annual October 6th anniversary commemoration ceremony of the of the first organized German-American settlement in the United States in Germantown, Pennsylvania, a Philadelphia suburb still in existence today. However, that celebratory event was prevented by the US government closing on that very date, resulting in the re-dedication event being moved to April 11th of this year.

The new garden plantings included varieties of over 2,000 high-value shrubs, plants and trees, native to both countries, provided by a contribution by the German Embassy. The installation was based on a design by Oehme van Sweden Landscape Architecture, who also sourced the nursery stock to be planted and supported Ruppert Nurseries’ restoration in an advisory capacity. “Existing plants were reshaped, an irrigation system installed, and a large variety of new flowers and bushes planted,” according to Lisa Delplace of Oehme van Sweden.

The German-American Friendship Garden commemorates the October 6, 1683 arrival of the first organized group of German immigrants, who purchased land from William Penn, establishing the village of Germantown, still a Philadelphia suburb. The garden is located on a direct sight line between the White House and the Washington Monument, and is the only other memorial on the Washington Monument grounds. It was dedicated by President Ronald Reagan and Chancellor Helmut Kohl in 1988. Now, 25 years later in April of 2013, German Ambassador Dr. Peter Ammon signed a Memorandum of Understanding with representatives of the National Park Service, the Association of German-American Societies of Greater Washington D.C., and the German-American Heritage Foundation of the USA for the renewal of the German-American Friendship Garden. Ambassador Ammon is a faithful supporter of the garden’s ongoing care and well-being, He has expressed the symbolic meaning of the original design of the garden, stating, “Using only plants that exist in both Germany and the United States, highlights the common elements and traditions in our cultures and stands for our unity.”

Late last September, Robin Nixon, Chief of Partnerships at the National Mall and Memorial Parks, invited Project Evergreen to help complete the German-American Friendship Garden plantings renovation within a tight few days’ schedule. Cindy Code, Project Evergreen’s executive director, reached out to Chris Davitt, president of Ruppert Companies, a Maryland-based contractor volunteer. Over a weekend, Chris arranged with Jeff Gowen, National Mall landscape architect, to donate crew labor, equipment and organic material to insure meeting the planting schedule and adhering to the design plans.

The GAFG renovation participants are noteworthy, insofar as Chris Davitt, of Ruppert Nursery, recalled working on installing the original GAFG grounds 25 years ago (circa 1988) in concert with the same architects, Oehme van Sweden, who designed the original and current garden revitalization plans. The confluence of Project EverGreen, coordinating Ruppert Nursery’s professional engagement to assist the National Mall & Memorial Parks staff, the German Embassy and Oehme van Sweden on this community enhancement is an excellent example of private, public and non-profit partnership. Robin Nixon at the National Mall & Memorial Parks described the participants’ efforts to organize their resources to expedite a quick German-American Friendship Garden renewal installation as “fantastic.”