Newsletter of the Foundation of the State Arboretum                 Spring 2015
Newsletter SubtitleMonth Year
It's Almost Time For
Garden Fair May 9-10

Spring is on the way, and that means it's almost time for Garden Fair! 

The Arboretum's spring plant and garden sale is Mother's Day Weekend, May 9 & 10, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. rain or shine both days. FOSA members will receive an invitation to Preview Night, Friday, May 8, from 5-7:30 p.m. Members enjoy first pick of plants as well as music, refreshments, and free admission to Garden Fair.

Garden Fair is the Arboretum's largest and most important fundraiser of the year, and proceeds support programs and events all year long. It's a great way to support your Arboretum and find some new additions for your garden and landscape. 

Admission is $15 per car, but you can save 20% by paying online in advance through the Arboretum website.

Change from Panera Makes a Difference for Foundation

2014 marked the fourth year that FOSA has been the recipient of Panera's Operation Dough-Nation program, a unique program where Panera selects a nonprofit organization to be featured on the collection boxes on the counters in their cafés.

During the past year, Panera customers who visited the Winchester and Warrenton cafés generously dropped their extra change in the Dough-Nation boxes. In addition, Panera matches $.10 for every dollar donated over the past year. 

Lauren Perpetua, Director of Marketing, presented FOSA with this year's donation check for $3,000 Feb. 10.

Panera has been and continues to be one of FOSA's strongest community partners and we truly appreciate their support. In addition to the Dough-Nation boxes, Panera provides lunch for our volunteers at Garden Fair and has done so for the past six years. 

We encourage you to visit Panera and when you do, remember to leave your change.

Grant Will Fund
Ginkgo Grove Improvements

Blandy's ginkgo grove, started in the 1930s by our first Director, Dr. Orland E. White, is one of the Arboretum's prized collections. Visitors travel great distances to see it, especially during peak fall color. Each October, a "ginkgo watch" is a staple of Blandy's Facebook page.

The Arboretum's conifer collection, which broadly speaking includes the ginkgo grove, serves as one of 17 Reference Gardens for the Southeast Chapter of the American Conifer Society. The Chapter recently awarded Steve Carroll and T'ai Roulston a $1,000 grant, the only award they made this year.

When the Arboretum's Conifer Trail was expanded in 2012, nine species were selected for audio interpretation as part of our Dial-a-Tree program. These nine conifers each have their own phone extension that brings listeners to a professionally recorded interpretive message. This grant will allow us to add the ginkgo to this select group. These funds will also allow the purchase of tree cages to protect new saplings as we replant spaces from which trees have been lost. Any remaining funds will be used for selective pruning to help keep our ginkgo grove healthy.

Dr. White surely envisioned how spectacular the ginkgo grove would look some day, but he had an ulterior motive for planting so many trees. A ginkgo is either male or female, and Dr. White wished to determine the sex ratio of offspring. He did not live long enough to learn the answer to his question, but we now know the ratio of males to females is 1:1.

The ginkgo grove is often included in tours and programs. Improvements resulting from this grant will increase the number of visitors who learn the fascinating history and biology of one of the most unusual trees on the planet.

Spring Gardening Season Begins
Join Us in the Gardens 9 a.m.-Noon
The 2015 gardening season gets under way at the Arboretum beginning March 31. Shake off the winter blues by joining us in the gardens!

Here's the schedule:
Herb Garden Tuesdays starting March 31st
Native Plant Trail Wednesdays starting April 1st
Perennial Gardens Thursdays starting April 2nd

No experience is necessary, and we'll provide tools. Come meet new friends, learn new skills, and put your expertise to work. You'll see why we say "We grow more than just plants!"

For more information call Volunteer Coordinator Koy Mislowsky at 540-837-1758 Ext. 246 or email

Volunteer Docents Needed Too
Share Your Knowledge With Arboretum Visitors
By Steve Carroll
Director of Public Programs

We receive many requests for Arboretum tours and programs. These come from garden clubs, community and senior centers, service organizations, nonprofits, and others. We accommodate as many requests as possible, but there are times when we have to say no or suggest a different time for a visit. One solution to this dilemma is to have docents trained and ready to assist with or lead tours and to help with programs as needed. A few volunteers already do this, but it's my hope to increase the number of those eager to share what they know and love about Blandy.

Beginning in April, a series of four docent-training sessions will be offered covering key aspects of Blandy's collections, gardens, and cultural and natural history. Training will include guided walks, short presentations on select topics (e.g., conifers, pollinators, the Arboretum collection, perennial gardens), and relevant reference materials. The goal is not to make us all experts on Blandy and its plant and animal residents, but knowledgeable guides for groups of visitors.

Training sessions will include four two-hour meetings as a group, with additional time as requested by participants. Dates and times will be determined by those who express interest.

Whether you have spent years walking Blandy's grounds or are a recent enthusiast of our landscape and collections, if you love the natural world and would like to share what you know with visitors, please contact Steve Carroll (, 540-837-1758 Ext. 287). Somewhere out there is a tour group with your name on it!
Trees, Tomatoes, Tours, Oh My!
Spring Programs Include Pruning, Trillium Trip
By Steve Carroll
Director of Public Programs

FOSA's spring public programs are under way, which means the first day of spring is upon us! Do you know where your seeds and garden gloves are?

Our series begins with American gardeners' favorite plant - the tomato. On Sunday, March 8, from 2-4 p.m., Craig LeHoullier, author and tomato tester for Seed Savers Exchange, will share his 35 years of adventures in the garden. Craig has trialed more than 1,200 tomato varieties and introduced more than 100 varieties into the trade. Copies of his book, Epic Tomatoes, will be available for purchase and signing.

Next up is "Starting Plants Indoors: Tips, Tricks, & Tools." Learn and share tips and tricks for starting your garden indoors. We then turn to care of our trees in a hands-on workshop offered by Certified Arborist Scott Johnston. This will be an excellent opportunity to learn how to care for your trees, observe and practice pruning, and ask lots of questions.

On April 3 and April 10 we will offer a two-part workshop focusing on plant identification using the Flora of Virginia. Marion Lobstein and Sally Anderson again team up to shed light on the world of plant identification. Marion will also lead our annual trip to the Thompson Wildlife Management Area so we can get our spring "trillium fix."

Mindfulness instructor Shell Fischer continues her Blandy workshops with Mindfulness Meditation April 17 and Guided Walking Meditation April 24. These are wonderful opportunities to learn about these popular and growing practices.

Photographers Doug Graham and Tim Farmer taught a nature photo workshop last fall, and we bring them back by popular demand. Their April 22 workshop will "focus" on photographing birds.

Area gardeners are fortunate to have the beautifully illustrated, Native Plants of the Mid Atlantic, published in 2014 using original artwork by members of Botanical Artists for Education and the Environment. On May 2, BAEE members will give an illustrated talk, display some of the original art on which the book is based, and sign copies of the book, which will be available for purchase.

In mid May, Shenandoah Herb Society member Phoebe Reeve will share her years of experience in growing, tending, and using herbs. She will then lead us on a stroll through the Blandy herb garden.

May programs also include two walking tours - a family-friendly walk under the full moon (May 3) and a walking tour to show off Blandy's spring flowers and trees (May 19).

There is much happening at Blandy this spring. Why not walk your way to our web site and register now for one or more of these public programs?
Publish or Perish?
Blandy Publishes 10 Papers Per Year
By Dave Carr
Director, Blandy Experimental Farm

The most visible part of the scientific process at Blandy is the field work. During the summer, visitors will see students and faculty all over the landscape setting up experiments and collecting data, and visitors are likely to come across improvised, odd-looking contraptions built from odds and ends from Wal-Mart or Lowe's at any time of year. Fewer people get to see the communication part of the process, although our weekly research seminars and our Summer Research Forum are always open to the public. The ultimate form of scientific communication is the publication of research in a national or international journal, and Blandy students and faculty have averaged more than 10 papers per year over the past five years.

The process of publishing scientific papers has changed a great deal over the past decade or so due to many technological advances. The most significant change has been online publication. Most journals now have online versions of their paper editions, and some journals exist only in cyber-space. In fact, some long-standing journals are switching from paper to online-only. The hoops that scientists have to jump through to get their work published have not changed much, however, at least in my lifetime.

Scientific publication relies on the process of peer review. When authors submit a manuscript to a journal, an associate editor chooses two or three experts (peers) in that particular field to serve as reviewers. These scientists read and critique the manuscript. Is this an interesting study? Were the experiments conducted properly? Were the data analyzed properly? Were the proper conclusions drawn? The peer reviewers then send their recommendation back to the associate editor; that recommendation could range from rejection to invitations to resubmit a revised manuscript, to acceptance. The associate editor then considers the critiques (sometimes reconciling conflicting recommendations), and makes an overall recommendation to the managing editor, who then communicates this, along with the original reviewer comments, to the authors. If the manuscript was not rejected outright, the authors respond to the reviewer comments and change the manuscript as necessary before resubmitting. If the associate editor is satisfied (sometimes after further consultation with reviewers), the manuscript eventually will be published.

The peer-review system means that everyone plays multiple parts in the process. All three Blandy research faculty author scientific papers and serve as reviewers for many manuscripts and journals. Last year, for example, I reviewed 11 manuscripts for eight different journals. All three Blandy research faculty also serve as associate editors for journals as well. T'ai Roulston and Kyle Haynes serve in that capacity for a relatively new journal, Ecosphere, published by the Ecological Society of America. I serve as an associate editor for the American Journal of Botany. Serving as a reviewer or an associate editor is done on a volunteer basis, and although both are time consuming, it is widely recognized that all scientists have to do their part to support the peer-review system and ensure its integrity.

A list of Blandy publications is available on the Blandy website, but if you don't want to curl up with the Annual Review of Entomology, you can always see the latest research at our Summer Research Forum this August 5th. We serve refreshments.

Kids Become Scientists at Blandy Summer Camp

Nature-Themed Activities Make Learning Fun

By Steve Carroll

Director of Public Programs


Summer may seem like a far-off fantasy, but plans are under way for our 2015 summer nature camp. As in years past, we will offer two camps for rising 2nd-4th graders, and a third, more investigative camp for rising 5th-8th graders. Each camp emphasizes outdoor activities, and each benefits from low camper-to-leader ratios and from participation by Blandy's resident undergraduate research students.


"Weird & Wacky Nature" (July 6-10, for rising 2nd-4th graders) kicks off our series. In this camp we will explore weird and wonderful aspects of nature: animals that glow in the dark, plants that eat animals, bolts of electricity that strike from the clouds, and lots more.


In "International Nature Camp" (July 13-17, for rising 2nd-4th graders), we will explore animals, plants, and cultures from around the globe. We will use Arboretum trees from Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America as a jumping-off point for our travels. Fasten your seatbelt!


We end with "EcoExplorers" (July 20-24, for rising 5th-8th graders), an investigative experience in which participants identify an ecological question, then work in pairs to collect and analyze data in an attempt to answer this question. On the final day, campers present their results to other participants, staff, and parents.


We are developing a Facebook page for Blandy Summer Nature Camp, where we will be able to share details of the program and photos from our activities. Watch for that coming soon!


Registration for summer camp will begin in early March. Space is limited, so register early.


Learning in Action
Blandy and FOSA Recognize Creative and Innovative Young Scientists At the February Frederick County Public School Science Fair
By Candace Lutzow-Felling
Director of Education

Over the past five years, the Blandy Education Department has awarded Frederick County Public Schools science fair student projects that display creativity and innovation in design or execution. These awards, funded by FOSA, include both a certificate and monetary gift. Judging the awards were Candace Lutzow-Felling, Director of Education; Emily Ford, Lead Environmental Educator; and Lillian Ledford, Environmental Educator.

Ryan Bucher
This year's awarded middle school projects were:

* Effect of Video Game Settings on Overall Score, by Ryan Bucher of Frederick County Middle School
* Hover with the Penguin or the Panda, by Isaac Chapman of Aylor Middle School

Ryan manipulated video game settings to examine how these settings affect scores. To do so, he had to obtain permission from the video game creators to alter the programming, learn how to use a software program to manipulate the game's settings, and then analyze the effect of his alterations. Isaac built a hover craft to examine how air temperature affects the height of hovercraft flight. After testing the
Isaac Chapman
hovercraft by flying on it himself, Isaac discovered that there was no significant difference. (That's right: He actually rode on it! And yes, we want one.)

Four awards are given at the high school level, two for project creativity and two for innovation in engineering design. This year's awards for project creativity went to:
* The Effect of CD, DVD, and Blu-Ray Disc Track Spacing on the Diffraction Pattern, by Michael Berry, Sherando High School
* The Effect of Electricity on Duckweed Growth, by Melissa Cummins, James Wood High School

Michael developed creative methods using laser technology to record the angle of diffraction for various entertainment media to help him understand how they create sound and images. Melissa examined how different voltage levels impact the growth of aquatic plants. Adapting a technique used to encourage growth of plants in terrestrial environments to an aquatic setting, she designed and built an experimental chamber that held water, emitted a voltage, and was compartmentalized to separate trials.

Lauren Baker
This year's awarded projects in innovative engineering design were:
* The Effect of Recycled Micronized Rubber Powder Filler on the Abrasion and Tensile Properties of Rubber, by Jon Gustafson, Sherando High School
* Three Layer Weed Wacker Guard, by Lauren Baker, Millbrook High School

Jon's well-designed and executed project analyzed the effectiveness of a recycled rubber product. Although he found that vehicle tires made from the recycled rubber product were durable, what really impressed us was his examination of the potential environmental impacts of this product. Lauren developed a three-layered guard to protect trees from weed whackers. Her innovative design used Velcro to quickly fasten a flexible burlap, foam packaging material, and heavy-gauge chicken wire guard around a tree, solving in a simple, inexpensive, and effective way the common problem of damaging trees while trimming weeds and grass.

TREE Fund Project with Clarke County Public Schools

By Candace Lutzow-Felling

Director of Education


In the fall of 2014, FOSA received a grant from TREE Fund establishing a partnership between the Blandy Education Team and Clarke County Public School 3rd grade teachers for the duration of the 2014-2015 school year. 


This generous grant from TREE Fund provides funding for bus transportation to Blandy and for each participating teacher to purchase literacy, mathematics, and science investigation supplies.  Additional grant funds will be used to create interpretive signage and brochures about Blandy's Community Forest. Portions of a generous gift from the H.O Peet Foundation are also being used to support this innovative program.


Blandy Director of Education Candace Lutzow-Felling is leading the project while Environmental Educators Emily Ford, Lil Ledford, and Lindsay Cutchins develop the curriculum and team-teach with 3rd grade teachers at D.G. Cooley and Boyce Elementary Schools. Blandy's Education Team has developed six programs for Clarke County's 3rd grade students: three Blandy-based field investigations and three school-based.


Integrating science, mathematics, and language arts, the TREE Fund project kicked off in September with the planting of trees in Blandy's new Community Forest, contributing to the Arboretum's forest restoration plan. Throughout the unit, students observe, experiment, measure, calculate, graph, and read fiction and nonfiction books about trees, recording their data, observations, and experiences in personal tree journals.  


Third-graders have been thrilled to discover the wide variety of trees in Virginia, have become engrossed in investigating the roles of trees as important habitats to other organisms, and are eager to visit "their" trees in the community forest come April.  Plans are under way for a capstone tree planting project to take place in Berryville this May.


This collection of photographs provides a glimpse of the various tree investigations Clarke County third grade students have been conducting this school year.



Students learning how to properly plant a tree with Arborist Bob Arnold in Blandy's Community Forest, September 2014.
During Blandy's February visit to their schools, students learned how to use an identification guide to
discover important and interesting information about Virginia trees.



D.G. Cooley Elementary School students proudly display the results of their "Trees as Habitat" investigation, December 2014.


Examining tree leaves using a microscope during a January visit to Blandy, students exclaimed: "It's like a miracle!" "The leaf is covered all over with things that look like crystals! I didn't notice those before!" 


Blandy's Roots Spread Far and Wide

Leading Experts Helped Grow Arboretum Collection

By Chris Schmidt

Arboretum Assistant


During his tenure at Blandy Experimental Farm, Dr. Orland.E. White corresponded with, and obtained a large quantity of plant material from, his professional peers. Before he arrived at Blandy, he had been associated with several highly regarded horticulture institutions, including the Arnold Arboretum and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. This allowed Dr. White access to some of the world's leading botanists, plant collectors, and taxonomists. The following people are mentioned in our accession books and contributed to the development of the grounds at Blandy.


Alfred Rehder (1863-1943) worked at some of the best known gardens in Germany until he took a position with a German publishing company and traveled to the United States in 1898. His job was to research American horticulture and dendrology. In order to supplement his income and education, he took a job at the Arnold Arboretum at Harvard University. The director, Charles Sargent, was so impressed with his horticulture knowledge that he convinced Rehder not to return to Germany and instead remain at the arboretum. Rehder became an expert on plant taxonomy, authoring at least 1,400 plant names, and was the curator of the Arnold Arboretum Herbarium. Dr. White consulted with Rehder on the identification of several specimens which were brought to Blandy. Rehder was also instrumental in formulating the original concept of plant hardiness zones.  At the same time, Dr. White was studying the relationship of a plant's genetic make-up and its tolerance for cold, and kept pages of records on what he termed his "winter testing." I would venture that these two scientists corresponded on the subject.


George M. Reed (1878-1956) attended college in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Dr. Reed taught at the University of Minnesota before working for the United States Department of Agriculture. In 1921, he joined the staff of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden as the plant pathologist. He would remain there for 25 years, even serving as the acting director for a brief period. Although his research was diseases of cereal grains, he was also an expert on iris and was responsible for the identification of at least 2,000 varieties. Dr. Reed sent many iris specimens to Blandy Experimental  Farm and assisted with the identification of others sent to Blandy.


J. H. Beale (1885-1969) was an Englishman who studied at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, a leading horticulture institution in England. He traveled to the U.S. in 1925 and, after a short tenure at a nursery in New York, he became the superintendent at the Arboretum of the Boyce Thompson Institute in Yonkers, New York. He remained there for 28 years and is responsible for introducing, propagating, and distributing at least 3,000 plants to various research institutions for trial studies.  Blandy was the recipient of many of these introductions, including the Pachysandra planted near the Quarters, as well as the Fontanesia, and Evodia.


W.H. Judd (1888-1946) was another Englishman who also studied at Kew. He arrived in the U.S. in 1913 to become the assistant to the propagator at the Arnold Arboretum. He became the head propagator in 1916 and remained in that position for 33 years. Judd was considered an authority in his field. There are numerous mentions of him in the accession books including entries for Callicarpa, Viburnum, and the Hovenia, all of which are still on the Arboretum grounds.


There were many other colleagues of Dr. White who supplied plants, seeds, and expertise to the developing experimental farm, which was on an extremely tight budget. There is not room here to mention them all. Dr. White must have been very grateful to them for their generosity and he even made a special note in the accession books of the numerous specimens that arrived as "gifts." Today, many years later, visitors to the Arboretum can appreciate plants that represent the extraordinary fellowship to which these scientists belonged.