Green Flag
Foundation of the State Arboretum of VirginiaSpring 2012

Save the Date!


April 21 is the

Spring Cocktail Fundraiser 


Join us for "An Evening at Callander," the home of Mary and Don Shockey. 


Tour the gardens of Callander, designed by the late, famed landscape architect Wolfgang Oehme and his colleague, Carol Oppenheimer. Carol will lead the tour and discuss Oehme's style, which revolutionized the American landscaping scene.  


Oehme's regional work can be seen at the National Arboretum, the Federal Reserve Bank, the International Chancery Center and many private estates.


The ticket price is $125 per person to benefit the Foundation of the State Arboretum.


Learn more about Carol Oppenheimer, Wolfgang Oehme and the "New American Garden Style" at and in this Washington Post article. 

Save the Date!

Garden Fair

Is May 12-13

Mother's Day weekend marks the Arboretum's 23rd annual Garden Fair, May 12 & 13 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. both days.


Garden Fair features a huge plant and garden supply sale, with annuals, perennials, native plants, small trees, boxwood, and literally dozens of specialty plant vendors offering a selection so extensive it's impossible to list everything. Best of all, Garden Fair supports the work of the Arboretum and is the most important annual fundraiser for the Foundation of the State Arboretum.


Shoppers will also love the selection of original art, unique pottery, garden tools, clothing, fine items for the home, and herbal products.


With plenty of free activities for kids both indoors and out, families can also enjoy a guided Arboretum tour, watch as workers use a massive tree spade to move and re-plant a new tree in the Arboretum collection, and visit with some friendly alpacas.


So plan a special treat this Mother's Day weekend with a visit to the Arboretum. It's a fun day for the whole family and a great way to support your State Arboretum.


Admission is $10 per car, and all events and activities are free (although donations are greatly appreciated to help offset expsenses).


Garden Fair is underwritten by BB&T, and we are grateful for their support. 

Can You Speak
For Our Trees?
The State Arboretum needs several people to give voice to our trees.
Visitors to our newly renovated interpretive trail at the arboretum will hear minute-long stories about the different kinds of trees they see -stories about the tree's place in our cultural history or about the ecology of the tree in our modern world.
Visitors will hear the stories by approaching a tree in the arboretum and dialing the tree's phone number or surfing to its web site. We are looking for each participant to record three 1-minute written pieces.
As a thank you, participants will receive an honorary tree planted in their or a loved-one's name, complete with planting ceremony, as part of our honorary tree program, and a year-long membership in the Foundation of the State Arboretum.

Audition by reading provided text into our answering machine or into your own recording device and providing us with a copy. Deadline for submission is April 15th. For submission details, go here.



Please Leash Dogs Near Buildings and In Parking Areas

Blandy says thanks to our many visitors who come here on a regular basis to enjoy our grounds with their canine companions.


Blandy is one of the very few public places in our area with a policy that permits dogs to be off leash on parts of the property.


We recognize how much dog owners value this rare privilege, and we are grateful that they are working with us in observing the leash restrictions (anywhere within 200 yards of our buildings) that make our overall policy possible.


Our goal is to ensure a safe, enjoyable, and educational experience for all of our visitors, including those with four legs.


See our website for a full description of Blandy's pet policy.




New Blog Notes Seasonal Changes
At Arboretum

By Steve Carroll

Director, Public Programs


Last fall a group of Blandy supporters volunteered to help lead tours and programs. One volunteer pointed out that for those who aren't here every day, it's difficult to keep up with the unfolding seasons and changes in the landscape, especially over our many acres. And from this observation came the idea of launching a blog, or web log, that volunteers, weekend staff, and others can follow as a way to stay current.


Environmental Educator Lil Ledford set up our blog, and she and I (and others who request the password) have begun posting text and photos on subjects such as the changing seasons (e.g., see post on winter aconite), Blandy wildlife (e.g., post on merlins), current projects (e.g., update on the new conifer trail), and other points of interest. Docents and others who wish can now access these posts from home.


"Blandy Notes" is live, though we are just beginning to take advantage of this new way of staying in touch. Have a look! And if you'd like to contribute, please do so. Anyone is free to make comments, though as a moderated blog, Lil or I will review these posts before they go public.


Blandy's newest tool for reaching volunteers and the interested public can be found at:

Two New Faces

Join Office Staff


By Martha Bjelland

FOSA Director


We welcome part time administrative assistants, Carolyn Martin and Shari Green to Blandy Experimental Farm.



Carolyn lives in Shenandoah Farms, has years of UVa experience, and loves gardening.


Shari lives in Middletown, is a Virginia Tech graduate (we said we won't hold that against her) and has spent most of the last six years in Arkansas. 


Carolyn's primary focus will be Blandy facilities use, while Shari's will be FOSA related. Carolyn is "looking forward to getting my roots in." Shari said "I am excited to be here, and look forward to working with FOSA's members and programs." Stop in and say "Hi."

The roof may be red, but the new lab is Blandy's first "green" building.

New Lab is First Green Building at Blandy


By Dave Carr

Director, Blandy Experimental Farm


A new laboratory building now under construction is the first LEED-certified "green" building at Blandy Experimental Farm.


Seven billion people rely on the earth to provide resources and life-sustaining processes, and that number is projected to reach eight billion in just 15 years.  The world's long-term physical and economic health depends on the efficient use of resources and the preservation of ecosystem services in the face of an ever increasing demand.  This reality is affecting every aspect of our lives, from the way our food is being grown, to how we light and heat our homes, to the way we transport ourselves around town and around the globe.  The goal of improving sustainability has also led to important changes in our approach to the creation of the places where we live and work.


The United States Green Building Council has been working toward generating industry consensus on the most sustainable practices for building construction.  The USGBC has developed a framework they call "Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design" (LEED) to guide architects, contractors, and owners in developing a human-built landscape that reduces both the short-term and long-term environmental impact of construction.  LEED certification has become an industry standard for sustainable design, and the University of Virginia is incorporating these principles into their own construction projects, attaining their first LEED certification in 2010 with the completion of an addition to the Printing and Copying Services building.  The new Field Lab will be the first LEED certified building at Blandy.


When imagining a "green" building, many people might first think of things like solar panels or wind turbines.  While incorporating renewable energy into a design is a great way to reduce the long-term environmental impact of a building, it is by no means the only way to improve sustainability.  There are many cost-effective design and construction features that can be incorporated into a building project to reduce the overall environmental footprint, and the Field Lab project uses a wide variety of approaches.


Sustainable design starts with decisions about where to build, with a priority given to siting new structures near existing development to minimize sprawl and the destruction of natural habitat.  That was one of the important criteria for site selection of the lab within Blandy's developed core where most activity already takes place.  Design elements that conserve energy and water are among the most effective ways to reduce impact, and the HVAC, lighting, and other operating systems in the Lab will reduce energy consumption by 22% relative to a traditional design.


Smart decisions about the selection and management of construction materials can also greatly improve sustainability.  Materials used in the lab are evaluated based on their recycled content and whether they come from local sources.  One of my favorite examples is that much of the fill needed for the site preparation came from the rubble of the old Center Cinema in Winchester.  Our general contractor, Lantz Construction, improves our resource use efficiency by ensuring that over 75% of the construction waste generated on site will be recycled.  Less waste means lower net natural resource consumption and less landfill space.


LEED guidelines also evaluate the effect of the built environment on the people inside the building.  They emphasize the use of adhesives, paints, and flooring that have low volatile emissions to enhance indoor air quality.  The big windows along the south side of the building will provide a great deal of desirable natural light, and the open feel they provide should contribute to a comfortable work environment.  Outside, the building guidelines emphasize landscaping with native plants that reduce the need for irrigation and provide a basis of support for wildlife.


LEED certification involves a scoring system, with points awarded for the various sustainable design and construction elements of a project.  Scoring is evaluated by third-party verification to ensure that the building performs as designed.  The system requires 40 points for minimum certification, and 80 points are needed to achieve a "Platinum" rating.  The Field Lab is designed to earn no fewer than 52 points, which we expect will earn us a "Silver" designation.


It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the serious and complex environmental challenges facing a world of over seven billion people, but many of the solutions to these problems start with the billions of small decisions made every day by ordinary people around the world.  Blandy's mission of increasing understanding of the natural environment through research and education confers on us a special responsibility for working toward solutions.  The new Field Lab is intended as a tool for new discovery and to train the next generation of environmental scientists, but it is also intended to represent a more enlightened approach for the way in which we humans interact with the environment.

Thanks foe dough Panera!
Allie Munsey, Aida Rivera, and Jake Skeith from Panera Bread present an oversized check to FOSA President Bruce Downing along with FOSA Director Martha Bjelland and FOSA Events and Volunteer Coordinator Koy Mislowsky.
Dear Panera Bread: Thanks for the 'Dough'

By Koy Mislowsky

Events & Volunteer Coordinator


In February of last year, FOSA and the Panera cafés in Winchester and Warrenton kicked off a new partnership called Operation Dough-Nation.  Operation Dough-Nation is a unique program in which Panera selects a nonprofit organization to be featured on the collection boxes that can be found on counters in their cafés.  FOSA was chosen to receive these donations for 2011, and the two cafés accepted donations for the Foundation during the past year.  Last month, Allie Munsey, Panera's Marketing Coordinator, presented us with a check for $1600.  FOSA has also been selected to receive the "Dough-Nations" for 2012. 


Panera has been partnering with the Foundation for the past three years by providing lunch for our volunteers at Garden Fair.  This year they will be a vendor at our Mother's Day event so plan to have lunch while you shop!


Thanks for the "Dough" Panera!

 Young Naturalists Explore Arboretum

2012 Young Naturalist Program 

The Young Naturalist group, led by Program Presenter Lillian Ledford, makes a discovery during the Mammals & Birds Young Naturalist program.  Although the winter has been dry and mild, that Saturday brought wind-driven snow and even hail.

Prepare for Spring - and for Spring Programs


BloodrootBlandy's spring public programs will range widely, both in space and time.  We begin with planting tips and advice on caring for your gardens and tools, and we end with a presentation on America's old-growth forests.


In between we'll explore Blandy under the full moon, take a photographic journey through Shenandoah National Park, get an update on the region's diverse amphibian life, and lots more.


With such a variety of illustrated talks, hands-on workshops, field trips, and more, there should be something here for everyone.  Check the schedule below and mark your calendars.  Some programs have strict limits on numbers of participants, so register soon!



Spring 2012 Public Programs


March 20 2-4 p.m.                Spring Tour of Blandy

March 31 10 a.m.-Noon       Planning a Memorial Garden

April 6 7:30-9 p.m.                Full Moon Hike FULL

April 14 8 a.m.-5 p.m.          Tomorrow's Landscapes

(This program is at Shenandoah University)

April 17 7-8:30 p.m.             Wildflowers of Shenandoah National Park

May 3 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m.      Trilliums of Thompson Wildlife Management Area

May 7 8-9 p.m.                      Full Moon Hike NEW! Just Added

May 9 7-8:30 p.m.                Salamanders: Hidden Jewels of Appalachia

May 16 3-5 p.m.                    America's Old-Growth Forests

Blandy Sketch Group Hosts Show in Berryville


Members of the Blandy Sketch Group are displaying their talents in an art show at the Barns of Rose Hill in Berryville through May 12.


According to Sketch Group President Walta Warren, nearly 100 artworks including watercolors, oils, acrylics, ceramic tiles, and mixed media are included.


All of the works feature the natural environment, with many capturing scenes of the Arboretum. An opening reception March 18 drew praise and offered the chance for the public to meet the artists.


The Blandy Sketch Group meets at 1 p.m. the first Thursday of each month at Blandy. Annual dues are $10. For membership information email  Walta Warren at


For hours or directions to the Barns, call 540-955-2004.

Arboretum to Plant 100 Dawn Redwood Trees

Dawn Redwood
Dawn Redwood turns a beautiful color in fall.


By T'ai Roulston



Most visitors to the arboretum have discovered the nearly 300-tree ginkgo grove on our western border. In fact, during autumn foliage, it is the most sought after part of the arboretum, with many people calling ahead for predictions of peak color. Those of you who have penetrated deep into the grove, and walked down slope to its edge, have discovered the one area that has faired poorly over the years. In wet years, the lower slope gets flooded and many trees have died.


The next inhabitants of that area are growing rapidly in the greenhouse: 100 dawn redwood trees propagated from seed. Why the dawn redwood? It has several things in common with its future neighbor, the ginkgo. They are both gymnosperms known from fossils from many areas of the world, including North America, before they were found as living trees anywhere. Both were discovered in isolated areas in Asia in the early 20th century, soon recognized as "living fossils," and quickly spread to arboreta to preserve them. Both are deciduous, with very impressive displays of fall foliage. What do they not have in common? Dawn redwoods don't mind wet feet. They should thrive in the soil too wet for ginkgos and make a 2-species grove of living fossils with impressive fall foliage. The new trees will not change the look of the ginkgo grove from the road, as the new planting, expected to occur sometime next year, will be down slope and out of sight from most parts of the road. So if you want to see the new grove, you'll have to wait a little while and then walk down hill to where the lines of ginkgo grow thin. We are sure the search will be worth it.

Spring Photo Show Opens April 15
ArborFestThe Blandy Photo Club will host an opening reception for its Spring Show & Sale Sunday, April 15, from 2-5 p.m. in the dining room. Photos reflect the theme 'Only in Virginia,' and all photos were taken in Virginia.
The club meets the first Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. and includes members of all ages and experience levels. Photos in the show feature images of the natural world including scenics, landscapes, flowers, macros and people in nature. Photos are for sale and FOSA will receive 30 percent of the proceeds.
For more information call 540-837-1758 Ext. 226.