Newsletter of the State Arboretum of VirginiaFall 2011

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Dig Deeper

Celebrating Milestones

Community Garden
Summer Research

New Board Members

Fairy Houses a Hit

Fall Programs
Bay Academy

Save the Date!

Sept. 15

 5:00-7:30 p.m.

 Volunteer Dinner and Presentation of the Andrew and Charlotte Miller Award


 Oct. 7
4:30-6:30 p.m.

 Enjoy the Arboretum's first BBQ & FiddleFest

(Rain date Oct. 8) 


ArborFest Video

 Oct. 8 & 9

9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. 

Annual fall festival
and plant sale


Oct. 9

FOSA Life Member Reception


Dec. 3 & 4 Holiday Workshops


Dec. 8
7-9 p.m.

 Ornament Workshop

Welcome New

FOSA Members


Mr. & Mrs. Atkinson

Front Royal


Blue Ridge Workshops

Mr. Elliot Stern



Mr. & Mrs. Cook

Augusta, WV


Dr. & Mr. Kiefer



Mr. Leonard



Ms. Mills



Mr. Monroe

Flint Hill


Dr. & Mrs. Pett



Ms. Robertson



Mr. & Mrs Saxe



Mr. & Mrs. Wright



New members from May 17 through August1, 2011. Compiled by Laura McCall. 

REUA Successful Summer of

Student Research

By Kyle Haynes

Associate Director

Another cohort of students has just completed the 11-week Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program at Blandy. Every summer since 1992, Blandy has hosted undergraduate students from across the country as part of the REU program, which is funded by the National Science Foundation. Most college students have little or no opportunity to carry out research. However, with the guidance of faculty and graduate-student mentors at Blandy, the REU students carry out independent research projects on the ecology and evolution of plants and animals. That research experience combined with training received in a diversity of workshops give these students an upper hand as they pursue careers in environmental biology or other fields.


The 10 participants in the REU program, most about to start their senior year of college, are enrolled in a variety of colleges and universities, some local and some distant. The largest contingent hail from three different universities in Puerto Rico: University of Puerto Rico - Bayamon (Luis Oquendo), University of Puerto Rico - Mayaguez (Veronica Rodriguez), and University Metropolitana (Johanna Nifosi). Kate LeCroy and Kellen Paine also made long trips to join us at Blandy, Kate from Birmingham Southern College in Alabama and Kellen from Earlham College in Indiana. The remaining students came to us from institutions that are closer to home. De'Ashia Lee was the latest of several students joining us from Howard University in Washington, D.C. Gabrielle Lamoreaux traveled from Allegheny College, Ariel Firebaugh from Roanoke College, and Hilary Wayland from our own institution - University of Virginia.


Among the graduate students, this was a summer of new faces. We were joined this summer by Rea Manderino, Gerry Woodworth, and Prajakta Bhayade from the University of Virginia and Zhe Bao from Virginia Tech. Returning graduate students include Stesha Dunker who is studying soil-atmosphere exchange of carbon dioxide, Rosemary Malfi who is researching factors affecting the decline of native Bumblebees, and Jonathan Walter who is investigating factors contributing to the range expansion of the gypsy moth, an invasive pest of forests. 


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Ariel Firebaugh
Ariel Firebaugh Wins
2011 Callahan Award


Ariel Firebaugh is the 2011 winner of the Tom Callahan Award for Undergraduate Research for her project entitled "Lymantria disp-erse: The effect of landscape structure of male gypsy moth densities."


Ariel attends Roanoke College and was mentored this summer by graduate student Jonathan Walter. The award is given in memory of former FOSA Board member and National Science Foundation researcher Tom Callahan, who lost his battle with cancer in 1999. The award is given to the student that gives the best presentation based on scientific merit and presentation style.


Ariel's project examined how spatial variation in male gypsy moth densities is related to the size, proximity, and quality of forest patches. This is important because the reproductive success and population growth of gypsy moths - a major forest pest - depends heavily on there being sufficient numbers of males to mate with females. 


Blandy Heart

Click for slide show


Some of the Summer 2011 REU students decorated the Dining Room with original artwork. Click the image above to see our favorites (and remember, these are scientists, not art students!).

Fall Programs

Botany for Gardeners 

Sept. 1, 10 a.m.-Noon


Invasive Species Art

Sept. 13, 2-3:30 p.m.


Backyard Woods Workshop

Sept. 17, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Registration: www.forestryforthebay.org/



Charter Bus Trip to James Madison's Montpelier

Sept. 22, 7:30 a.m.-6 p.m.


Full Moon Hike at Blandy

Oct. 11, 7-8:30 p.m.

baybay logo
Blandy Bay Academy
Environment Wins
Teachers Learn
Watershed Science


Teachers from seven different Virginia school divisions engaged in a variety of outdoor science investigations during a five-day residential workshop at Blandy Experimental Farm.


As part of the workshop, held the second week of August, participants compared two Shenandoah River sites, examining land use, benthic macroinvertebrates, and water chemistry. They also visited a number of Clarke County locations to explore the hydrology of karst terrain firsthand.


Teachers received several investigative tools to use in the classroom, including turbidity tubes, hydrogeology models (which demonstrate how water moves through different surfaces), and numerous other resources to augment their watershed science teaching.


One of the highlights of this year's Bay Academy was participating in the UVA Bay Game. The Bay Game is a computer simulation in which participants or "gamers" assume roles in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Gamers make choices as if they were landowners, cattle farmers, policy makers, land developers, crop farmers, or watermen. Looking a decade or more into the future, the computer projects the impact of gamers' choices on the health and productivity of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.


The game was developed for use in college classrooms and for policymakers and analysts. Blandy's Bay Academy was selected to assess the adaptability of this game for K-12 teacher professional development and/or for the high school classroom.


The focus of Blandy's Bay Academy is the interconnection of the northern Shenandoah River watershed with the Chesapeake Bay estuarine ecosystem. Teachers gained knowledge in hydrology, biogeochemistry, geology, and aquatic and marine ecology, and used new science technologies during several field and classroom investigations.


Blandy education staff and several guest instructors from federal, state, and non-profit education and natural resource agencies led the Academy. A grant from the Virginia Resource Use Environmental Council awarded to Candace Lutzow-Felling, Blandy's Director of Education, funded the program. The Education Department is grateful to FOSA for serving as administrator for this project.


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 Learn More

top25 Years as the

State Arboretum of Virginia
President Sullivan Makes First Visit to Blandy

FOSA celebrates

UVa. President Teresa Sullivan, Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Doug Domenech, and founding FOSA Board Member Bob Lee were on hand for the 25th anniversary celebration of the Arboretum's designation as the State Arboretum of Virginia. Photos by Koy Mislowsky

By Martha Bjelland
Director of FOSA

The Foundation of the State Arboretum's (FOSA) Board of Directors hosted University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan at a special event on June 11 marking the 25th anniversary of the State Arboretum designation. 

President Sullivan

President Sullivan

Against the handsome backdrop of The Tuleyries, FOSA Board President Bruce Downing welcomed over 125 guests. After thanking Mrs. Orme Wilson Jr. for her hospitality, and Mary and Don Shockey for their generosity in supporting this event, he introduced President Sullivan. Her remarks included a brief history of Blandy and the State Arboretum, and the University's commitment to science research and education outreach.





Blandy's 25th Anniversary

Click to watch video.

Following President Sullivan's remarks, founding FOSA board member Bob Lee shared the 'how' and 'why' of the State Arboretum designation, acknowledging all efforts to that end, including the late Andy Guest's role in shepherding the resolution through the Virginia Legislature in 1986.

Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources, Doug Domenech, offered congratulations to the State Arboretum on the 25th anniversary milestone, and asked the University of Virginia to consider placing part of Blandy Experimental Farm and the State Arboretum into a conservation easement to show its commitment to land conservation.


President Sullivan with students.

President Sullivan greets UVa. graduate students Stesha Dunker and Rosemary Malfi (back to camera). Stesha is sponsored by FOSA and Rosemary is sponsored by Mary and Don Shockey.

Following the brief program, guests were invited to tour the Tuleyries, the antebellum home of the late Graham Blandy, benefactor of Blandy Experimental Farm.


After the conclusion of the Tuleyries event, President Sullivan toured the Arboretum with Blandy Director Dave Carr and FOSA Director Martha Bjelland. President Sullivan then spent the night in the historic Quarters, marking another milestone for Blandy, as the first UVa President to do so. Blandy's REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) students were also in residence at the Quarters. This was not an unusual situation for the student-centered President, as she ran an REU program in Texas earlier in her career. We look forward to welcoming her back on her next Blandy visit!


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logoCelebrating Milestones and

Pausing to Reflect on the

Arboretum's Achievements


directorBy Dave Carr

Director, Blandy Experimental Farm

Celebrating milestones comes naturally to people.  Birthdays, anniversaries, and graduations give us a chance to pause, reflect, and celebrate accomplishments.  It is much harder to make out progress when you're struggling to move forward in the face of daily trivialities and regular setbacks.  It is often difficult to understand the significance of decisions and events until sometime after the fact.  The long view offers perspective.  A lesson commonly drawn from these celebrations is that success is not an accident.  More often than not it comes from imagining what could be, staying dedicated to the goal, and making the right decisions along the way.


Orland E. White

Orland E. White

The first entry of the first volume of the old accession books stored in a cabinet in Arborist Bob Arnold's office reads simply "1-38 Indigofera argentea Montevideo."  This marked the beginning of a formal plant collection that Dr. Orland E. White, botanist and Director of the Blandy Experimental Farm, wanted to develop as a resource at the fledgling University of Virginia field station.  In the years following 1938, new entries appeared in the books at a steady pace.  The number of trees and shrubs grew through exchanges with botanic gardens, acquisitions from nurseries, and collecting from places near and far.  Dozens of students and research fellows from around the world contributed to the collection and used it to advance the field of botany, researching questions in plant genetics, cytology, systematics, horticulture, and agriculture.


Upon his retirement in 1955, Dr. White had accessioned over 13,000 plants from all over the globe, and the University recognized his vision and dedication by naming the extraordinary collection in his honor.  His research collection had grown into an arboretum.  The day he planted that first indigo, Orland White set Blandy on an ambitious course, but he probably knew that those who came after him would have to be equally dedicated for its continued success.


Dedication to Blandy and the Arboretum has not been universal.  After the retirements of White's successors, Ralph Singleton and Curator Walter Flory, a new person with vision and dedication failed to step forward.  Academic programs stopped in 1965.  After an unsuccessful attempt by the Board of Visitors to sell the property, the University essentially put Blandy in mothballs.  A few like Thomas Ewert and the American Boxwood Society helped to further develop the Arboretum in the 1970s, but its value and potential seemed invisible to most in Charlottesville until 1982.


The revitalization of Orland White's vision began with the confluence of two important events.  Ed Connor, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences, saw the value of Blandy and the Arboretum for ecological research and was appointed Director in 1982.  Soon after this rediscovery, the Friends of Blandy, led by Graham Blandy's nephew Orme Wilson, formed from the local community.  The Friends helped renew the grounds, started public events, and promoted the Arboretum to anyone who would listen, including Virginia law makers.  In 1986 the Virginia General Assembly voted to designate the Orland E. White Arboretum as the State Arboretum of Virginia.


In 1986 Blandy had a beautifully framed proclamation, but where to next?  After all, the designation of "State Arboretum" arrived with no funds.  The General Assembly didn't grant Blandy three wishes.  Why expect progress? In lesser hands, the proclamation could have been little more than a wall decoration, but Dr. Connor, FOSA, and a small group of resident Blandy faculty (Drs. Michael Bowers, Chris Sacchi, and Christine Flanagan) dedicated themselves to building on this foundation.  Blandy was once again a thriving research community, and the Arboretum, with a new focus on native plants, was reinvigorated as a resource for the University and the public.


Scores of people have contributed to the success of the State Arboretum since 1986 as the baton passed from hand to hand.  At a recent ceremony marking the 25th anniversary, former FOSA Board member Bob Lee noted that he is the sole surviving member of the group that shepherded the proclamation through the General Assembly.  The FOSA presidency passed from Orme Wilson to Harry Symmes, to Charlie McCandlish, to Mary Pockman, to Louise Sinclaire, to Joslin Gallatin, to Charlotte Miller, to Jim Wyatt, to Greg Ellison, to Elaine Burden, to Tommy Dunning, and now to Bruce Downing.  FOSA eventually grew large enough to require its own full-time Director, and that has passed from Jen Schaefer to Louisa Frederiksen, to Vic Arthur, and to Martha Bjelland.  Over the years the Blandy Directorship passed to Michael Bowers, to Manuel Lerdau, and now to me.  Mary Olien, T'ai Roulston, Candace Lutzow-Felling, Steve Carroll, and Kyle Haynes stepped in as faculty departed for new challenges.


Each of us inherited a responsibility and vision that can be traced back to that first accession entry.  In looking at the list of people that preceded us, I am reminded that the list will continue to grow long after we're gone.  We all share the dedication to keep moving Blandy forward, to live up to the honor of the State Arboretum, and to give our successors a solid foundation on which to build.  To everyone who has volunteered, everyone who has joined FOSA, everyone who has been part of the Blandy staff, and everyone else who has helped us along the way, I want to say thanks for your dedication to making the State Arboretum blossom.  We're well on the way toward a proud 50th anniversary.


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FOSAFOSA Members Elect New Board

On June 25th FOSA held its annual meeting to acknowledge and thank those Board members who have finished their term and to elect the new Board members. The Board members who are going off the board this year are Donna Downing, Jay Monroe, Scott Johnston and Charlotte Kollar.

The new Board members are David Look, Nancy Talley, Steve Bauserman and Joe Metz. After the meeting everyone stayed for a presentation by George Orhstrom II on the "Downstream Project."


Next, we all headed out to the amphitheater to FOSA's first membership picnic! It was free for members and we had 80 people attend! Everyone loved the band "Those Three Guys", who performed in the amphitheater while everyone ate their hotdogs and hamburgers. It was nice to relax and come together with friends on a beautiful summer evening at Blandy.

HousesFairy Houses Highlight Annual Meeting

The welcome sign is out at this fairy house.

The welcome sign is out at this fairy house. Click the image for more photos.

By Koy Mislowsky

Volunteer and Events Coordinator

After the Annual Meeting dinner we gathered the children for what would be the highlight of the evening....The Fairy Houses! Robin Coutts, our Program Presenter (wearing her fashionable fairy wings) read a children's book called "Come One Come All to the Fairy Ball."


In the story we learned there are not enough fairy houses in the world so our mission that night, was to build fairy houses and build them we did. There were fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, a few REU summer students and even a staff member or two who hurried around the forest to collect the necessary items to build their perfect houses. The houses were made of sticks, pods, pine cones, gourds, leaves, nuts, seeds, rocks, dried flowers and any other treasures the children found on the ground.


By the end of the evening, there were houses with ladders and swings. There were tables set with food (berries) and a lot of creative landscaping! One fairy house had a dance floor complete with bandages made from lambs ear leaves "just in case someone got hurt while dancing." It was wonderful to watch! Many adults came to tour the houses that had been created and marveled at what they saw. A few of the kids stayed until dark, putting the finishing touches on their creations. Some have returned since the picnic to work on their houses a little more.


You can see some of the photos from that magical evening on our facebook page. We hope you will join us next year for the 2nd Annual Membership Picnic and Fairy Houses. It was an evening to rememeber.


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Full Moon courtesy of  Marlon Malabanan

Photo Courtesy Marlon Malabanan

Fall Programs Explore Madison,

The Moon, Migration, and More


By Steve Carroll

Director of Public Programs

Fall public programs at Blandy will include a bit of everything - illustrated talks and hands-on workshops, a bus excursion and a moonlight hike, and even an art program.


September opens with two very different approaches to the plant world. We start with a program on botany geared toward gardeners and others interested in how plants work. We then see plants through the work of two artists who help cut down invasive oriental bittersweet vines and turn these into works of art!


In mid-September we co-host a day-long workshop aimed at small-property owners. This program is offered in conjunction with the Virginia Department of Forestry and the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay. For more information and to register, go to www.forestryforthebay.org. Space for this program is limited, so don't delay.


Next we board a bus and head to James and Dolly Madison's Montpelier, in Orange, VA. This day trip will include guided tours of the Madison home as well as its grounds, gardens, and historic landmark forest. In mid-October we will explore closer to home in a full-moon hike aimed at the whole family. Join us as we seek out and appreciate the evening sights, sounds, and smells of Blandy.


For the past three years we have joined with Shenandoah University's Department of Environmental Studies in co-hosting a fall program having broad interest. This October we will bring Neil Diboll, owner of highly regarded Prairie Nursery, to speak on the use of native plants as an alternative to turfgrasses.  This program is jointly sponsored by the Virginia Working Landscape Group, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, the Piedmont Environmental Council, and the Virginia Native Plant Society.


We end the fall series by looking skyward to consider the plight of our migratory songbird populations.  From botany to birds and from the moon to your own backyard, we hope you see something in our programs to bring you to Blandy.


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Searching for macro invertebrates.

Searching for macroinvertebrates.








































UVa Bay Game

UVa Bay Game participants explore various roles and how choices impact the Chesapeake Bay watershed in the computer simulation at Carter Hall in Millwood.

Become an Arboretum Docent

Docent/Volunteer Training Workshop

Wednesday, November 16, 1-3:30 p.m.


Would you like to lead tours, help with programs, or speak to groups about natural history, ecology, gardening, Blandy history, or related topics?  Please join us in the library for an introduction to Blandy and its environs. 


Background information, resource materials, and refreshments will be provided, with follow-up training based on your interests and needs. All levels of experience welcome. Contact Steve Carroll with comments or questions by email at [email protected] or call 540-837-1758 Ext. 287.


Click for More Photos

 gardenVolunteers Expand Community Garden

By Steve Carroll

Director of Public Programs

With the heat of summer upon us, mid-season vegetables in Blandy's community garden are maturing quickly. The weeds are happy too, but we try not to water them. We tripled the size of the garden this spring, and it is now often quite busy, especially in the morning and evening out of the day's worst heat.


Our garden benefited from generous donations of money, time, and materials from Kohl's Distribution Center, the Berryville branch of BB&T, Berryville Farm Supply, and Lowe's. Each gardener or garden group donates a portion of what they grow, and the flow of vegetables to food banks, soup kitchens, and neighbors in need has begun. Donations have included more than 250 pounds of tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, squash, potatoes, peas, beans, broccoli, herbs, and more, with several months yet to go in the growing season.


Be sure to have a look the next time you visit Blandy. We are located at the first parking area on the Wilkins Lane Loop Drive.


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