The Woodlands is in danger of losing some of its most significant historic trees!

Learn more about what's being done to treat and prevent our grove of English elms from Dutch Elm disease, and donate now to help Save the 7 Giants!

Donate now to The Woodlands Tree Fund

The English elm trees at The Woodlands are remnants of William Hamilton's 18th century landscaped estate. Some of the trees probably pre-date the cemetery monuments beneath them, and may even have been planted by Hamilton in the late 18th century. (Photograph by Ryan Collerd.)

Wander through The Woodlands on a late spring afternoon, and you're sure to be amazed by the site's largest living collection: the trees. With more than 800 trees and a variety of species (quite a few of which were introduced to North America on this property in the late 18th and early 19th centuries), The Woodlands is not only a cemetery. It's an arboretum; a significant historic landscape; and a tranquil, shady space to escape to from the bustling city.

If you've ever taken a tour of the site with one of our knowledgable guides or simply taken a walk through the grounds, you've definitely seen perhaps the most significant clustering of trees on the property. Just to the east of the Mansion is a grove of seven English elms that tower over the cemetery monuments beneath them (they're fondly called "The 7 Giants"). These elms are perhaps some of the most significant trees on the property, in the city, and in the Philadelphia region--because of their size and age, and because they're still here. 

Elms were planted prolifically throughout North American cities during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries until the 1920s, when Dutch elm disease was discovered on the continent. Throughout the later part of the twentieth century, the disease wiped out the allées of elm trees planted in cities and towns across the United States. The disease is initially introduced to the tree by a fungi carried by the elm bark beetle, and then spreads from tree to tree through connected root systems. The disease causes the tree's leaves starting to progressively wither and yellow, which starves the roots of the nutrients needed for survival.

In late May (2014), a regular visitor to The Woodlands discovered that several of the elms in this historic grove were exhibiting signs of Dutch elm disease and alerted staff. Testing confirmed the infection, and treatment on the trees was started immediately. Unfortunately, at least two of the trees require immediate removal in an effort to protect the remaining elms from infection.

Treatment and monitoring for the disease on the remaining healthy elms will be costly, and removal of the infected trees is essential to preventing the spread of Dutch elm disease throughout the grove and to other elm species on the site and in the area. Longterm maintenance and preventative care will be required for the 4 remaining healthy elms in the grove.

Here's what YOU can do to Save the 7 Giants!

Make a contribution to The Woodlands to support the immediate treatment and prevention needs, as well as the continued care and maintenance of these amazing and significant elms. Initial costs for the immediate treatment required to save the trees are estimated at $20,000, and long-term care will also be quite costly.

Donate Now to Save the English Elms!

Every donation, no matter how small, will help save the trees, but if you're inclined to give more, The Woodlands has a few ways to say "Thank you!"

  • Give more than $2,500, and you'll get to take a ride with Arader Tree Service in the bucket lift to the top of these trees and beyond when the infected trees are removed (date TBD).
  • Donate $5,000 or more, and you'll not only get a scenic ride above The Woodlands tree canopy, but you'll also have a chance to receive a piece of one of these English elms (also TBD, as we explore the possibilities of what The Woodlands can create or do with the wood after the infected trees have been removed from the site).

Share our cause with friends, neighbors, and others who care about The Woodlands, historic landscapes, urban ecosystems, and significant trees by sending them the link to this webpage! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (links below) with the hashtag #SaveThe7Giants for the most up-to-date information on the trees.


© 2014 The Woodlands 
4000 Woodland Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19104