Newsletter of the State Arboretum of Virginia
Winter  2011

Save the Date!

For the 3rd year in a row, FOSA is highlighting its fundraising efforts by having a Spring Cocktail Party to raise the much needed funds for the programs we support at Blandy and the State Arboretum.


This year Mary and Don Shockey will be generously hosting the event at their home in Clarke County.

Please mark your calendar now and join us on April 21. The cost will be $100 per person. It will be a wonderful opportunity to gather with friends in a lovely setting and tour the gardens while supporting Blandy and the Foundation of the State Arboretum.

Planning a Memorial Garden



March 31
10 to Noon


Carrie Whitacre Assistant Curator

Blue Ridge Hospice Bereavement Counselors


Learn how a memorial garden can be used to honor the memories of our loved ones and help us deal with our grief.

Bring basic information about your garden (size, soil type and sun exposure) and leave with a plan to begin your memorial garden.


Reservations Required

Please call 540-837-1758 by March 16, 2012


Sponsored by Blue Ridge Hospice and the State Arboretum of Virginia


This program is free of charge. 




Johnson is New

FOSA Vendor Coordinator


Donna Downing has been FOSA's Vendor Coordinator for as long as most of us can remember.  She took her position very seriously and did an excellent job recruiting vendors, welcoming them into the vendor family and growing Garden Fair and ArborFest into the successful events they are today. 
 After 10 years, she was ready to relinquish her post and pass the reins on to someone else.  We are so grateful to Donna for her many years of service and dedication.


Fortunately, it did not take long to find just the right person to fill this important position. 

Roberta Johnson took over this past summer, recruiting and coordinating all the vendors for ArborFest.  She did an excellent job introducing herself to the vendors, answering their questions and making sure they were happy!

  Roberta has been a FOSA volunteer for the past two years.  She is already busy preparing for Garden Fair! 

Kudos and many thanks to Roberta!

Young Naturalist Program Begins Jan. 14
Young Naturalists
Kids can receive a Young Naturalist certificate by attending four or more sessions.

By Steve Carroll

Director of Public Programs


We've had a mild fall, but winter is just around the corner.  With that in mind, we will again offer our winter Young Naturalist programs for children in grades 1-5.  This series of inquiry-based programs is sponsored by The Adams Companies, with volunteers coming from our local chapter of Virginia Master Naturalists.


The 2012 series begins Saturday, January 14, with "Insects in Winter."  We will search for overwintering insects, learn how insects survive the cold, and build edible insect models.



Tour des Trees

Tour des Trees Visits Arboretum 

By T'ai Roulston



On October 7th, 60 cyclists stopped by Blandy Experimental Farm and planted 35 trees near the front entrance. The cyclists pedaled 485 miles from Williamsburg, Virginia to Washington DC and raised $460,000 for the Tree Research & Education (TREE) Fund, which sponsors research on trees and tree education. The ride, called the STIHL Tour des Trees, takes place each year in a different part of the country. It last passed through Blandy in 2000 and next year will explore Oregon. Click the photo above to watch an entertaining time-lapse video of their planting on the Blandy website.


The 35 trees were donated by Sylva Native Nursery and were all Virginia natives: red oak, scarlet oak, tulip poplar, sweet gum and Chickasaw plum. They were planted on the interior side of the forested strip that separates U.S. 50 from Blandy Experimental Farm. As these trees grow up they will expand the forest, providing a forested area toward the front of the property rather than just a narrow strip of trees. Shortly after the Tour des Trees cyclists came through, a high school class from the Flint Hill School in Fairfax County visited Blandy and planted an additional 15 trees in the same general location. As the years go by, watch for the handiwork of these cyclists and students to go from small leafless sticks ensconced in deer cages to towering trees, and watch a strip of lawn transform into a forest floor.



Yes, Virginia, There is a Christmas Bird Count 

By Dave Carr

Director, Blandy Experimental Farm

Long eared owl
This Long-eared Owl was discovered hiding in the arbor vitae near the Quarters at Blandy during the 2007 Northern Shenandoah Valley Christmas Bird Count.
Photo: Judy Masi


Every December for over a century, birders have taken to the fields, forests, deserts, mountains, and sometimes even the open ocean to spend a full day counting every bird they see. The first Christmas Bird Counts (CBCs) were organized by ornithologist Frank Chapman of the National Audubon Society in 1900 as a protest against the bizarre holiday tradition of shooting as many birds as possible. The idea of a holiday census spread across the country and throughout the western hemisphere. Last year 62,624 counters participated in 2215 different censuses from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska south to Drake Passage, Chile. Chapman's "protest" is now viewed as the longest running citizen science database in history.


Each individual CBC is conducted on a single day during the period of 14 December through 5 January. The count area is defined as a 15-mile diameter circle. Organizers typically assign small groups of participants to various territories within the count circle. For many participants, count day starts well before dawn in an effort to listen for the hoots of owls. They spend the daylight hours traveling through their assigned territory by car, by foot, and sometimes even by boat, tallying every chickadee, woodpecker, and sparrow they encounter. At the end of the day, the weary birders usually get together to eat some warm food, swap stories, and compile the birds of the day into a single master list. This list is sent to the National Audubon Society where the results of all counts are summarized in an annual report, and all of the data are made available online.



  Holiday Workshops Highlight Season

By Koy Mislowsky
Events and Volunteer Coordinator

Events Coordinator Koy Mislowsky (center) poses with Alicia Shelton and Allyson Caudill at Holiday Workshops.
FOSA hosted the 2011 Holiday Workshops  December 3rd and 4th.The library, where the wreath classes were held, was festively decorated and filled with the holiday spirit as more than 60 people gathered to create their own unique wreaths!  The Virginia Boxwood Company, the sponsor for the second year in a row, donated the fresh boxwood cuttings. The rest of the greens and adornments were cut from a variety of Arboretum Collections.


Julia Caldwell, a former Arboretum Assistant and Joyce Cosby, who has been an instructor since Holiday Workshops began in 1972, taught the classes this year.  They did a wonderful job and everyone had a good time!  One regular participant commented, "...It isn't the holidays until I come to Blandy and make my wreath!"

An ornament workshop was added this year, taught by Carrie Whitacre and Kim Strader.  It was held on December 8th.  Each participant made three all natural ornaments made from dried flowers and plant materials collected from our perennial and herb gardens.

A special thanks to the Virginia Boxwood Company, Sherry Rose, Bob Arnold, Robert Fawcett, Carrie Whitacre, Kim Strader, John Campbell, Doug Bartley, Julia Caldwell, Joyce Cosby, Rob Humphrey, Loretta Allison, Janie Hockman and Ardie Wykoff.  Without them, the Holiday workshops would not have been possible.  Happy Holidays!

Lillian Ledford
Lil Ledford is New Program Presenter

By Candace Lutzow-Felling

Director of Education


Blandy and the Arboretum welcome Lillian Ledford as a new member of our Education and Public Programs Teams! Lillian will work half the year with Candace Lutzow-Felling, our Director of Education and the other half with Steven Carroll, our Director of Public Programs. During our busy spring and fall school seasons, she will help teach our popular school programs. Winter and summer, Lil will be busy helping create and teach our successful Young Naturalist and Summer Camp Programs.


Lillian brings a strong background in both education and environmental science outreach experience to Blandy. She is certified to teach elementary education in Virginia and has experience teaching preschool through 6th grades. Her passion is teaching natural science in an outdoor setting and promoting stewardship of our natural resources. In addition to classroom teaching, she also served as a Youth Conservation Corps Crew Leader in Shenandoah National Park, and coordinated public programs at Wintergreen Nature Foundation.


Lil grew up in the mountains north of Charlottesville spending most of her childhood wandering the woods and learning the mountains through these personal experiences. Some days you just might see her meandering the fields, forests, and wetlands of the Arboretum learning about our unique environmental resources which, undoubtedly, she will integrate into her School Program, Young Naturalist, and Summer Camp teaching.

Her skills, interests, and experience make her a wonderful addition to the Blandy Education and Public Programs Teams. Please join us in welcoming her to the Arboretum!

Welcome New FOSA Members

 New members