Newsletter of the Foundation of the State Arboretum                        Spring 2014

Plan Now For

Summer Camp

It's not too soon to prepare for summer, and that means selecting and registering for the right summer camp. We offer two camps for rising 2nd-4th graders and one for rising 5th-8th graders.


Our 2014 offerings begin with "Lost & Found: Natural Mysteries" (July 7-11). In this camp we will investigate the mysteries of navigation and migration in the natural world. We'll learn to navigate and move through our environment using the sun, tools such as maps and compasses, and lots more.


In week two, July 14-18, we offer "Eagle Eyes & Dragonflies," a camp all about flight. We'll examine flight in birds, bats, and insects; we'll look for seeds and pollen carried on the wind; and we'll test-fly boomerangs, kites, and more. Expect a visit from a real flying machine!


Our third camp, EcoExplorers (for rising 5th-8th graders), is investigative in nature. Participants in this camp, who work in pairs, ask a question about the natural world, collect and analyze data, then present their findings to other campers, family, and Blandy staff on the last morning.


In all three camps, students work in small groups with adult leaders, and they interact with our resident undergraduate students, who share aspects of their own research with campers.


More details, prices, and registration information are available on the Blandy web site under "Programs & Events."




The greenhouse adjacent to the Parkfield Learning Center is overdue for replacement.


New Greenhouse

Is In the Works

By Dave Carr

Director, Blandy Experimental Farm

In December of 1940 Blandy Director Orland E. White wrote to Lord & Burnham of Wyncote, PA to get cost estimates for a new research greenhouse at Blandy Experimental Farm. Dr. White had acquired $5,000 to cover construction costs. He envisioned a research program where his students would be breeding tropical and temperate plants, so he suggested that the greenhouse needed to be divided into two rooms to accommodate different temperatures and growing environments. Dr. White insisted to Lord & Burnham that what he wanted was a "commercial type - with absolutely no frills, since it is for experimental purposes only. Its heating arrangements and upkeep should be of the simplest, most fool-proof type, requiring the least amount of attention and with the smallest fuel requirements." Blandy then, as now, was on a tight budget.


Dr. White's greenhouse was completed in 1941, the same year that center and west wings were added to the Quarters. It must have been an exciting time at Blandy, with a growing research program and investment in the infrastructure to support it.


Dr. White's no-frills structure has, for much of its life, supported the Blandy research program as it was designed to do. However, beginning in the mid-1960s when University programs withdrew from Blandy, the greenhouse began to fall into disrepair.  With the renewal of University research and teaching in the 1980s, repairs were undertaken to make the building operational again. In the 1990s Director Ed Connor and Curator Chris Sacchi acquired $13,000 from the National Science Foundation to make much needed improvements, including a new roof, heating system, and cooling system. When T'ai Rouslton and I arrived, we added new lights and other equipment, and the greenhouse has remained a critical resource for our research programs to this very day.


Seventy-three years later, however, time has taken quite a toll on this utilitarian building. The cinder block foundation is crumbling. The wooden frame in the roof is rotting and leaking.  The ceiling in the old coal furnace basement is being supported by 4x4 timbers to forestall collapse. Trees planted over 70 years ago around the greenhouse now cast it in deep shade for half of the year.


The replacement of this greenhouse has been a high priority for years, and it looks as if the time has come. I will be meeting with the College of Arts and Sciences, the Architect of the University, and Facilities Management to design and build a new greenhouse over the next 18-24 months. Our needs are almost exactly the same as Dr. White's were back in 1940.  We want a simple, utilitarian, energy-efficient greenhouse that can allow for different growing conditions simultaneously.  We also want the new structure to allow for future expansion as needed. The new greenhouse will be located adjacent to the new laboratory to create a more efficient working environment for our students and faculty and to consolidate the research infrastructure in that area of the property.


It is amazing to think how long and well Dr. White's initial $5,000 investment served Blandy and the University. If this new research greenhouse serves us as well, Blandy will be positioned for a thriving plant research program stretching to the 22nd century.



Docent Bob Vazquez leads a tour of the grounds.

Docents Wanted

We receive many requests each year for tours of our collections and gardens. Blandy staff lead many of these, but we also rely on our capable volunteers. Would you like to lead or help with tours? Training and practice opportunities will be provided. Please contact Steve Carroll if you might be interested (; 540-837-1758 Ext. 287). 





License Plates

FOSA President Sylvia Wilson shows her pride in the Arboretum with special personalized license plates on her car.



Spare Change
Adds Up for FOSA

Panera Bread in Winchester collected $5,000 for Blandy Experimental Farm through their Dough-Nation program, which lets customers donate their change to area non-profit organizations. Here Regional Marketing Coordinator Allie Munsey, Shift Supervisor Jason Parker, and General Manager Jason Judd join Blandy Director Dave Carr, Events and Volunteer Coordinator Koy Mislowsky, and FOSA President Sylvia Wilson for a photo. Thank you Panera!



Community Garden

Spots Available

2014 marks year seven for Blandy's Community Garden. A few spaces may still be available. If interested, contact Steve Carroll at; 540-837-1758 Ext. 287.




Frozen Feathers

Blandy Director Dave Carr assists students in the "Frozen Feathers" session of the Young Naturalist program as they view birds through a spotting scope.

April 5 Marks Official Opening of 4 Trails
Walk Your Way to Good Health
By Steve Carroll
Director of Public Programs
Blandy has long been a destination for walkers, and on Saturday, April 5, we will launch a walking program focused on health and fitness. 

At the center of this program are four walking trails, each of which begins and ends at our main parking lot. The trails range from three-quarters to two miles in length, and they follow existing roads and paths. A brochure with a map and trail descriptions has been printed, and an interpretive panel will be installed adjacent to the parking area. The brochure and panel can be viewed on our web site by clicking on "Walk Blandy" under the Programs & Events tab.

The 1.5-mile Willow Trail winds past Lake Arnold.
Walking is an increasingly popular means of improving health and fitness. Walking has been shown to increase circulation and respiratory rate, lower the risk of heart problems, improve muscle tone and flexibility, aid weight-loss efforts, and more.

As a result of walking's many benefits, more and more health professionals are recommending this form of exercise to their patients. Physical therapists are including walking in treatment plans. Rehabilitation centers, assisted-living facilities, and hospitals are installing walking trails. Physicians are even writing prescriptions that specify where, how far, and how long to walk.

Join us Saturday, April 5, from 10 a.m. to noon, to officially open our new walking trails. Light refreshments will be available, a ribbon-cutting will take place at 10:15, and volunteers will be on hand to orient you to the trails and get you started on your walk. Put on your walking shoes and try out one of these trails. This could be the start of a walking program in one of the area's most beautiful settings!
Book Club Forming at Blandy
Group Will Explore Environmental Writings
So many moving, insightful, poetic books have been written about environmental issues, natural philosophy, the outdoors, and special natural spaces. We all have our favorites. Some examine life up close in a small area (Walden, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, The Outermost House). Some share the experiences of a journey (Goodbye to a River, A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush).

The best of these writings transcend simple observation to comment on the environment and the human condition. Some serve, whether intended or not, as a call to action. Consider Silent Spring, The Monkey Wrench Gang, Desert Solitaire, and more recently, Last Child in the Woods.

With so many fine books available, we'd better start reading, and to help with this, we are launching the Blandy Book Club. The intent is to read books, essays, poems, and collections of writings on natural history, environmentalism, humankind's place in nature, and related topics.

Details (what to read first, when and how often to meet, etc.) will be left for those at our first meeting. If you'd like to be involved, please contact Steve Carroll (; 540-837-1758 Ext. 287) by Monday, March 31st. We will then set a date for our first gathering for sometime in the spring.

To quote Edward Abbey, "May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds."
Students Study Site For 
Proposed Education Center

Focus is on Environmental Impact 

By Candace Lutzow-Felling

Director of Education

If Blandy were to build an Education-Visitor Center, where should it be located?


Students examine a Blandy master plan layout and discuss the need for an Education-Visitor Center.


Sixth grade students from Aylor Middle School in Stephens City are examining Blandy maps; considering Blandy land-use history, visitor numbers and traffic flow; and investigating the potential environmental impacts that constructing  a proposed Education-Visitor Center would have at Blandy.  


Students will combine all of this information with water quality impact data they will measure at Blandy in March to suggest the best site for a new building. The best proposals will be voted on by students to present at their school and to Frederick County Public School administrators in May.



All 210 6th grade students gather in the Aylor Middle School library to begin discussing the project, January 2014.



Blandy Education staff and Frederick County science, mathematics, social studies, and English content area specialists are working in partnership to develop this multi-week interdisciplinary curricular project. 


All of  Aylor's 6th grade science, mathematics, social studies,  English, and computer technology  teachers are helping to pilot this project. Plans are to expand the program to all four Frederick County middle schools for the 2014-15 school year. Stay tunes for more details on this ambitious project.

Garden Fair Turns 25
FOSA's  Largest Fundraiser
The Foundation of the State Arboretum's signature annual event celebrates 25 years this spring.

Photo: Joe Alderman
Garden Fair began in 1989 with a handful of vendors and has grown to become one of the largest outdoor plant sales in Virginia. Garden Fair is set for May 10-11 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. both days, rain or shine. Admission is $15 per car, but you can save $5 by paying in advance through FOSA's online payment site before May 5. (Be sure to save your receipt to show the parking volunteers.)

Garden Fair weekend will kick off Friday, May 9, with Preview Night from 5 to 7:30 p.m. FOSA members and their guests will enjoy first choice of plants from Garden Fair vendors, along with wine, beer, and light appetizers. Preview Night guests also receive free admission to Garden Fair.

A special celebration to commemorate FOSA's 30th anniversary will follow Preview Night. Watch for details, but plan to wear your Wellies and pearls.

Garden Fair is underwritten by BB&T, with additional support from Bartlett Tree Experts, Panera Bread, and Shade Tree Farm.

New this year: Please leave your dog at home; due to safety concerns, dogs are discouraged at Garden Fair.

The weekend gets into full swing starting at 9 a.m. Saturday morning with nearly 100 vendors offering native plants, perennials, annuals, berry bushes, small trees, hanging baskets, and lots of items for the home and garden. Free family activities will take place in the amphitheater from noon to 2 p.m. both days.

Guided tours of the Arboretum will be offered Saturday and Sunday, so plan to explore the grounds while you're here.

Garden Fair is the largest annual fundraising event for the Arboretum, and proceeds support programs and events throughout the year. For more information call 540-837-1758 Ext. 224 or visit our web site. 
Spring Programs
Sights and Sounds and Tours of the Grounds
By Steve Carroll
Director of Public Programs
With spring fast approaching, we look forward to another season of illustrated talks, tours, workshops, and more. Programs include favorites such as a full moon walk and our annual trip to the Thompson Wildlife Management Area and its sea of trilliums. Other programs are new, and many are co-sponsored by partner organizations.

Andrea Wulf
Andrea Wulf will discuss her book
Brother Gardeners Sunday April 6.
We will again co-host Andrea Wulf with the Colonial Dames of America, Chapter XXIII. Ms. Wulf will speak about her book, Brother Gardeners, which describes Europe's fascination with American trees and wildflowers and how our plants found their way to the European Continent. We are also excited to feature Robert Llewellyn, whose amazing photographs have graced books such as Remarkable Trees of Virginia, Seeing Trees, and Seeing Flowers. Mr. Llewellyn's program is co-sponsored by the Winchester-Clarke and Middleburg Garden Clubs.

Other co-sponsored programs include Sounds of Spring (with the Shenandoah Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists), Introduction to Herbalism (with Winchester Parks & Recreation), and Sustainable Landscaping (with the Piedmont Environmental Council).

Marion Lobstein will offer a two-part, hands-on workshop examining Virginia's flora, and two May programs highlight high-profile species. Marie Majarov will bring us up to date on a difficult year for monarch butterflies, and Matt Brinckmann will discuss progress in work with the American chestnut, then walk us out to Blandy's chestnut orchard.

Spring programs will include several that are free, including English- and Spanish-language tours on Earth Day (April 22) and perhaps most exciting, a "Grand Walking Day" on April 5th to officially open four walking trails (see separate article above).

Program details are available on the Blandy web site under "Programs & Events." Take a look and register online or by phone. It's never been easier to take advantage of our many programs and activities!
Science Fair Season
Blandy Recognizes Innovative Young Scientists
By Candace Lutzow-Felling
Director of Education
Six Frederick County Public School students received awards from Blandy for outstanding creativity and innovation at the Frederick County Public Schools Science Fair February 4th at Lord Fairfax Community College. Three of these award winners are highlighted here.

Millbrook High School student Alexander Swigart received the Most Innovative Design Award for his "Gutter-Nado 327" gutter cleaner.  Using the Gutter-Nado, you can comfortably stand on the ground and clean leaves and other debris from your gutters.  Let us know when this machine hits the market!

Logan Apple, also a Millbrook High School student,  received the Most Creative Young Scientist Award.  Logan used computer code to create a conversion program he named Hypercalc, which can be used on PC or Mac devices.  Would you like to convert inches to meters or calculate watts from amps and then translate this into Croatian?  This program can do it all! 

Have you ever wondered what happens to those baby and other cleaning wipes that you flush down your toilet?  Alli Bodenschatz did!  This Admiral Byrd Middle School 6th grade student received the award for Young Scientist with Notable Creativity in recognition of her inventive project design. An important discovery Alli made is that most wipes take a while to biodegrade - take note if you use a septic system!