Newsletter of the Foundation of the State Arboretum                 Winter 2014

Seed Exchange Set for Jan. 24

Gardeners will again gather in the library for our fifth annual seed exchange Saturday, Jan. 24, from 10 a.m. to 
2 p.m.

Participants are encouraged to bring seeds, plants, roots, or cuttings to exchange with other gardeners. Native plants are especially encouraged, but no plants or seeds on the Arboretum's list of invasive plants are allowed.

The event, which is sponsored by Our Shop, will also feature a book and magazine swap. 

For more information call Donna Downing at 540-667-3778.

Weather Records
Now on Website

By T'ai Roulston


Every day for 30 years, Arborist Bob Arnold has walked to the Blandy weather station and recorded the day's precipitation and extreme temperatures. Like a medieval monk moved by higher purpose, he has hand written his observations in flawless script for posterity, with few people ever seeing them. 

There are few things people do every day for 30 years. Over that time period, Bob has been more likely to record the day's data than some people have been to eat a meal or to go to bed. Now, his meticulous efforts no longer lie hidden in the propagation greenhouse, enjoyed only by overwintering stinkbugs: They are available through the Blandy website  for all to enjoy. (See Research -- Blandy Weather History or click here.)


Increasingly, researchers have asked for Blandy's weather data, sometimes because they wanted to know if Blandy would be a good place for a particular study to take place and sometimes after a study to provide a comparison with other study locations. 


But it is not only of interest to researchers. Gardeners can see the history of first and last frost dates. What was the latest frost date in the last 30 years? May 22. Are you a gambling gardener? Transplanting out on April 24 would have been OK half the years but April 2 would have worked only twice. Harvesting your basil? The latest first frost was this year --November 8. Our biggest one day snow? 30 inches (Feb 6, 2010). Our rainiest year? 61.8 inches (2003). Our hottest year? 2010.


This year was a particularly interesting year to put together the data, as it was our coldest winter, our mildest summer and our latest first frost date. Overall, our data are highly correlated with statewide temperature data.

Anyone interested in looking over the data can download it right from the website. It is updated with most recent data on a weekly basis.



FOS Membership
Makes a Great Gift

A membership in the Foundation of the State Arboretum is a great gift idea and the perfect way to show your support for the Arboretum.

Individual FOSA membership starts at $35, or just $25 for seniors over age 65. A family membership is $50 ($40 senior) and your business can become a member for $50.

FOSA members enjoy 10 percent off in Our Shop, as well as discounts to FOSA programs and reciprocal benefits at other arboreta and public gardens.

Join online right now, or visit our 
membership page to learn more.

And Happy Holidays!


Make Your Own
Blandy Calendar

Did you know you can create your own Blandy calendar on our website? 

You can choose a standard calendar that's complete with photos and ready to go, or you can upload your own photos, captions, and important dates to include on your own custom calendar.

Best of all, FOSA receives a portion of the proceeds of every sale, up to $10 per calendar. Get started now by going to the Blandy web page and choosing "Create a Blandy Calendar" from the options on the right side of the page. 
Jim Wyatt and Kathy Clark were named Individual Philanthropists of the Year by the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
FOSA Volunteers Honored
For Service, Philanthropy
Clark, Wyatt Recognized for Generosity

By Martha Bjelland

Director, Foundation of the State Arboretum

Dedicated volunteers Kathy Clark and Jim Wyatt were singled out for their generosity and longtime service to FOSA and the State Arboretum on Friday Nov. 14th in Winchester. The celebratory luncheon was hosted by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Virginia Tri-State Chapter, and attended by 175 people, including two tables of friends and colleagues of the honored couple. The event included an award for corporate philanthropist of the year, and recognition of 22 distinguished volunteers nominated by local non-profits. FOSA Director Martha Bjelland nominated the couple with the following statement:


"Married and longtime Clarke County residents, Kathy Clark and Jim Wyatt have been sharing their time, talents, and treasure with FOSA (Foundation of the State Arboretum) and the State Arboretum at University of Virginia's Blandy Experimental Farm, for over twenty-five years.


Clark and Wyatt (as they prefer) have played leading roles through much of their long history with FOSA. Clark is the Treasurer of FOSA, and manages FOSA's Gift Shop. Both have worked tirelessly with fellow volunteers on annual events, ArborFest, and Garden Fair. Wyatt is a past board President, co-chairs the Development Committee, and serves on the Finance, Nominating, and Tree Collections Committee. Together, their cumulative volunteer hours total 20,000!


Previously recognized as Clarke County's Citizen of the Year, Wyatt is most proud of establishing a 501(c)(3) to provide scholarship awards to Clarke County students. With a background in criminology, Wyatt represents Clarke County on the Regional Adult Jail Authority Board and Regional Juvenile Detention Board. 


From a $50 gift years ago, Clark and Wyatt have become more and more invested in the future of the State Arboretum, playing key roles in building the FOSA endowment, including life membership. They have become 'poster people' for planned giving, and often speak about the numerous charitable gift annuities they have purchased that will ultimately benefit FOSA, presently valued at $120,000. As members of the Blandy Society, they are leaders in unrestricted giving. Wyatt is a determined and effective fundraiser, and has worked on numerous capital campaigns for the Foundation. Most recently, Clark and Wyatt initiated a $100,000 Graduate Research Endowment Fund Challenge to support UVa graduate students at Blandy, pledging $60,000 themselves.


Why do Clark and Wyatt give so much of themselves to FOSA, the Arboretum, and UVa's Blandy Experimental Farm? They 'like everything about the Arboretum, and want to make it better for generations to come.'"


Humphrey Named Top FOSA Volunteer

Rob Humphrey was named the FOSA Top Volunteer for fiscal year 2014 during the annual Volunteer Dinner Sept. 4.

Rob Humphrey
Rob Humphrey
Rob volunteers in the perennial gardens and the native plant trail, and also helps with set up and take down of the Arboretum's special events, including Garden Fair and ArborFest. He's also frequently called on to staff the beverage table at Preview Night and FiddleFest, and helps maintain the bridle trail.

Rob's one of the people who keep the Arboretum gardens looking good and our events running smoothly. We salute him for his dedication to the Arboretum and thank him for the hours of service he contributes every year.

Lee Honored for Decades of Service
Bob Lee
This year the Volunteer Dinner included the presentation of the Charlotte and Andrew Miller Award for Excellence to G. Robert Lee, who is vice president of the FOSA Board of Directors. In the 1980s, Bob served on the first board of the Friends of Blandy, which was later renamed the Foundation of the State Arboretum. He led efforts to achieve Blandy's designation as the State Arboretum of Virginia, and has remained an active supporter for nearly 40 years. 

Thank you, Bob, for the decades of dedication to Blandy and FOSA, and for your continued leadership.

The Volunteer Dinner provides a chance for the staff and faculty at Blandy to express their gratitude to FOSA volunteers, who this year contributed nearly 4,000 hours of service. Volunteers play many roles at the Arboretum, from working in the gardens to running Our Shop. Once again we offer an enthusiastic "Thank You" to all whose hard work keeps the Arboretum growing.
FOSA's Young Naturalist Program runs from January to March.

Winter Young Naturalist Program: 
Last Child in the Building

By Steve Carroll

Director of Public Programs

Daylight Savings Time has ended, the season's first polar vortex has pushed south, and winter fast approaches. It must be time for the Young Naturalist program, the Foundation of the State Arboretum's winter series that gets kids outside in winter to explore the natural world.


This series is offered on alternate Saturdays beginning in January. As in the past, 1st-3rd graders participate in the morning (9-11:30 a.m.), and 4th-6th graders participate in the afternoon (12:30-3 p.m.). Follow this link to the brochure for details.


Our 2015 series kicks off on January 10 with "CSI: Solving Crimes with Nature." We'll investigate how animal teeth marks, footprints, plant parts, fingerprints, and other evidence from nature are used in solving crimes and other mysteries.


In "Nature's Amazing Defenses" (January 24), we'll investigate animals' defenses ranging from venom and camouflage to teeth and claws.


In program three (February 7), "Virginia's Native Americans," we will learn about the first people who inhabited and hunted in what is now Virginia.


"Nature's Recyclers," February 21, will focus on decomposers of the natural world and why they are so important. The series ends on March 7 with "Signs of Spring," in which we will go in search of emerging insects, budding plants, singing birds, and other evidence that winter is slowly giving way to spring.


Each program includes theme-related investigative activities, crafts, games, and snacks. Programs are led by Blandy Environmental Educator Lindsay Cutchins, and Director of Public Programs Steve Carroll. Volunteers from the community, especially Virginia Master Naturalists, assist with programs and lead activities. The Young Naturalist program is again sponsored by The Adams Companies, as it has been for many years.


Kids must be registered ahead of time to participate. For more information or to register call 540-837-1758 Ext. 224, or register online here.

Wet Paint
The Quarters roof received a new paint job this fall thanks to workers from American Paint Co. of Stephenson.

UVa, Blandy Affirm Commitment to Student Safety

Horrific Allegations of Sexual Assault Shock University

By Dave Carr

Director, Blandy Experimental Farm

By about this time of year, Blandy begins to feel as remote from the goings on at the University of Virginia as ever. Our summer undergraduates returned home back in August, and applications for next summer won't be due until March. Only a few graduate students are still making occasional pilgrimages from Charlottesville to tie up loose ends on their projects, but they'll disappear soon. I've long told colleagues that if I didn't make a weekly trip to the campus Grounds during the winter, I'd be in danger of forgetting I was even a part of a university.


This week, being a part of the University of Virginia became too painful to forget as an article in Rolling Stone magazine revealed secrets that shocked, horrified, and shamed people within and beyond the UVa family. If sunlight is the best disinfectant, we can hope that the blighted culture that turned college dreams into nightmares will shrivel in the focus of this harsh glare.


Our remote location hasn't spared the Blandy faculty and staff from what we've learned. We have all worked hard here to create an environment that fosters learning, curiosity, and the sense of belonging to a scientific community. For the hundreds of students of all ages who pass through our archway, our responsibility for creating a community of the utmost mutual trust and respect has never been more evident. Rape is certainly not a problem unique to UVa, but all of the units within the University, Blandy included, must work to change the environment that allowed its existence.

Paving Paradise
Newly paved handicap parking spaces at the rear of the Quarters and in the main parking lot will provide better access for Arboretum visitors. The work was completed in November.

Arboretum Treasures from Early American Nurseries

Blandy History Traces Path of Worldwide Plant Explorations

By Chris Schmidt

Arboretum Assistant

The nursery business in the United States lagged behind that of Europe until the late 1800s. At one time, the Veitch Nursery in England, which was considered one of the world's largest, employed 22 plant explorers. In 1898 the United States Department of Agriculture established the Office of Foreign Seed and Plant Introduction which sparked an interest in explorations to bring exotic plant material to the U.S. It became the goal of many botanists to collect new horticultural material. Specialty nurseries sprang up all over the nation to handle the sudden interest in newly discovered foreign and native plants.

Blandy's first director, Dr. Orland E. White, began receiving seeds, bulbs, tubers, and plants from famous plantsmen all over the country including R.D. Pearce, who operated a seed and bulb business in New Jersey, C. Purdy, who specialized in California natives, D.M. Andrews, who ran Rockmont Nursery in Colorado and offered Colorado wild flowers and hardy cacti for sale, and H.A. Dreer, who, in 1930, introduced the first patented plant, New Dawn Rose. This same nursery may also have been responsible for the initial importation of the Japanese beetle into the U.S. There are entries in the accession books referring to W.H. Judd, who was considered one of the foremost authorities on trees and shrubs at that time, and was the second director of the Arnold Arboretum at Harvard University. Otto Katzenstein, also mentioned in the records and who was considered an authority on southern forests, sent seed to the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina, and supplied literally tons of pine and oak seed to Europe in the early 1900s. A Japanese maple, grown from seed purchased from Katzenstein in 1938, is still growing at Blandy.


Orland E. White
Dr. Orland E. White

Some of the nurseries from which Dr. White obtained plant material are still in existence. Elmwood Nurseries, founded in Richmond by two brothers after the Civil War, is still operating under a new name, Watkins Nursery. We have contacted them in an effort to replace the alligator juniper (Juniperus pachyphlaea) which Dr. White planted at Blandy in 1933 but was damaged and removed in 2011. This same nursery is also the source of the still thriving, enormous Blue Atlas Cedar (Cedrus atlantica glauca) and the Incense Cedar (Calocedrus decurrens) both planted during the 1930s on what is now the Conifer Trail. The Gardens of the Blue Ridge in North Carolina, owned and operated by Edward C. Robbins since 1922, supplied the U.S. and many European countries with many native trees, shrubs and plants and is still in operation. There is a Carolina Silverbell (Halesia carolina), purchased by Dr. White in 1935 from this nursery, still in our collection. The very popular Weeping European Beech (Fagus sylvatica pendula) was obtained from Greenbrier Farms, a nursery opened in 1916 and still operating in Chesapeake.


Sadly, not all of the nurseries that Dr. White obtained plant material from have survived.  Bobbink and Atkins in New Jersey, which once supplied three-quarters of the azaleas in the U.S., closed its doors in the 1950s. The Blue Spruce (Picea pungens 'Kosteriana') that came from this nursery and was planted at Blandy in 1934, is still on the grounds as is the Japanese Umbrella Pine (Sciadopitys verticillata) which was planted in 1934 and given the 2009 State Champion Award. The magnificent Parrotia (Parrotia persica) at the Arboretum was supplied by W.B. Clarke & Son Company of California in 1938. This nursery supplied Winterthur, the famous DuPont estate in Delaware, with plant material and was responsible for the development and introduction of many ornamental trees and shrubs still available on the market. Unfortunately, this nursery has also shut down.


Blandy's trees and shrubs are filled with history. Not only have many of them been growing at the Arboretum for almost a century but they are also a legacy to what was a budding (no pun intended!) nursery business in the United States. Dr. Orland White enthusiastically supported these businesses which searched for and made available new and rare plants to botanical gardens, arboretums, and plant enthusiasts all over the world. Come wander your State Arboretum and visit the legendary plants that Dr. White had the foresight to purchase many years ago.