Newsletter of the Foundation of the State Arboretum                        Fall  2015
Artist Carolyn Fagnani presents Dr. Peter Crane with original ginkgo artwork at his presentation Aug. 6.
Dr. Peter Crane
Visits Blandy

One of the world's leading botanists came to Blandy Aug. 6 for a presentation on the fascinating story of the ginkgo tree, a biological oddity that has remained essentially unchanged for more than 200 million years. 

Blandy has the largest collection of ginkgo trees planted for research outside China.

Dr. Peter Crane, Dean of the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale University, is a former director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London. He was knighted in 2004 and received the International Prize for Biology in 2014.

Dr. Crane authored the book Ginkgo: The Tree That Time Forgot (2013) and has lectured extensively on what may be the world's most distinctive tree. Ginkgos were widespread around the world when dinosaurs roamed the Earth but became nearly extinct 65 million years ago.

FOSA hosted a wine and cheese reception in honor of Dr Crane prior to his program.
Artist's rendering shows the new greenhouse, next to the Blandy field lab.
New Structure Will Replace
Pre-WWII Era Research Greenhouse
Improved Design Permits More Flexible Use of Space

By Dave Carr
Director, Blandy Experimental Farm
It is finally going to happen! Blandy is getting a new research greenhouse! The old research greenhouse began serving Blandy researchers during the summer before the United States declared war on the Axis powers and entered WWII in 1941. Blandy's Director at the time, Dr. Orland E. White, contacted the Lord & Burnham Company to construct a "commercial type [greenhouse] 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." It's impossible to say how many research careers this "no frills" structure helped along the way, but mine can certainly be counted among them. I think all of us would agree that it was $5,000 well spent.

NSF Logo The new greenhouse is going to cost a little more than the original. Fortunately we received the good news from the National Science Foundation's Field Station and Marine Lab program, which will fund our $335,035 grant proposal for a replacement greenhouse. The new building will have the same square footage under glass as the old greenhouse (about 2,000 square feet), but a more efficient design will increase the amount of space for growing plants by about 70 percent. More bench space and the four-room design will allow the new greenhouse to better meet the increasing demand for growing space.

The new structure will be just south of the new field lab, making it much more convenient for researchers who are always moving things between the two buildings. The design allows for another 2,000 square-foot addition when the next call for expansion comes.

The new greenhouse will also include a feature that the old greenhouse never had: a head house. This little building will attach to the front of the greenhouse for potting, storage, and other activities that don't need to take place under glass. Storage space took up valuable growing space in the old greenhouse, and there wasn't room for bulky things. For the past five years we haven't been able to store our heavy bags of soil inside the greenhouse for fear that the floor might collapse into the cellar below.

Construction is expected to begin in November 2015, and if all goes smoothly, the building will open for business just as our summer researchers are arriving at the end of May 2016. The new greenhouse, together with the lab, will usher in a new era for the Blandy research program. I expect that the Blandy Director 75 years from now will think that our 2015 investment  was money well spent.
ArborFest Is Oct. 10 & 11 
Fall Festival & Plant Sale Celebrates the Harvest 

  Hay rides are an ArborFest tradition.
Celebrate autumn at ArborFest, the State Arboretum of Virginia's annual fall festival and plant sale, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Oct. 10 & 11, 2015. ArborFest features a select group of high-quality vendors offering small trees, fall perennials, and Virginia native plants, as well as a wide variety of other fall landscape plants and fine items for the home and garden.
Kids can make their own scarecrow or enjoy pumpkin crafts and games. Visitors can also enjoy a hayride through the Arboretum grounds each day (free, but donations encouraged).

Linda Lay and Springfield Exit will perform bluegrass tunes in the Amphitheater (Sunday 11-2) and arborist Scott Johnston will demonstrate professional tree climbing techniques (12:30 p.m. Sunday).

Visitors can take a free guided tour at 2 p.m. each day, and the Virginia Native Plant Society will offer a free guided native plant walk at 11 a.m. Saturday.

The Arboretum will accept plastic pots for recycling or exchange throughout the weekend, and Arboretum staff and volunteers will be on hand to answer gardening questions. Members of the Blandy Sketch Group will be sketching on the grounds during ArborFest, and the Foundation of the State Arboretum's gift shop will offer fall bulbs for sale.

ArborFest is hosted by the Foundation of the State Arboretum, with support from event underwriter Bank of Clarke County and event sponsors Valley Health, radio station Q102, and Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches.

Most activities are FREE (although donations are appreciated). Admission to ArborFest is $10 per car, but visitors can save $2 by registering and paying online before Oct. 5. Plan to bring the whole family and a friend or two and enjoy autumn at your State Arboretum of Virginia.

For more information call 540-837-1758, or visit online at

Fall Public Programs Feature Blandy's Dark Side
Fall Photo Workshop Focuses on Ginkgo Grove

By Steve Carroll
Director of Public Programs
FOSA's fall public program series includes 14 talks, guided walks, and workshops, five of which feature Blandy after dark. Shell Fischer offered Guided Walking Meditation on a beautiful September evening, her 10th public program at Blandy. The following week, 50 people packed the library for an illustrated program on light pollution given by Laura Greenleaf, co-director of Virginia's International Dark-Sky Association chapter. Laura's talk was part of the Winchester-Clarke County-Frederick County, One Book One Community series, based on Paul Bogard's book, The End of Night. Following her talk, we took a short walk to view the night sky. Two nights later, Shenandoah Astronomical Society members introduced us to prominent stars and constellations, then invited us to view the sky through four telescopes, through which we saw Saturn and its rings, double stars, globular clusters, mountains and craters on the crescent moon, and more. Our fall programs after dark also include two full moon walks, one each in September and October.
Not all is darkness and shadows! Marion Lobstein and Sally Anderson kicked off the fall series by shedding light on how to identify fall plants, particularly composites and grasses. On October 27, photographers Doug Graham and Tim Farmer will pair up for their third photo workshop, this time to show participants how best to use natural light to showcase our spectacular fall ginkgo display.
The fall series wraps up with programs on deer, trees, and forest defoliators. Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) ecologist Bill McShea will speak on the role of deer in structuring forest communities in our annual lecture at Shenandoah University, co-hosted by SU's Department of Environmental Studies and SCBI. We next learn tips and trick for identifying fall (leafless?) trees in a workshop by Carrie Blair. And our own Kyle Haynes presents the final fall program on forest defoliators, featuring ecological and socioeconomic impacts of gypsy moth caterpillars and other defoliating moth species.
Blandy is beautiful no matter the season or time of day. Be sure to find a reason to visit this fall.
Blandy Helps Promote Community Reading
Connecting the Landscape with the Written Word

This summer and fall, Blandy joined forces with Handley Regional Library and other community groups to encourage reading. One program focused on adult readers, while the other encouraged school kids and their families to read during the summer.
A growing number of communities across the U.S. have in recent years encouraged their citizens to read one carefully selected book. This year marks the 13th year for One Book One Community in the city of Winchester, Frederick County, and Clarke County. The 2015 selection -- Paul Bogard's, The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light -- was a perfect fit for Blandy's mission. As a result, we hosted one of the program's free community events, a well-attended illustrated talk on light pollution and its many effects given by Laura Greenleaf, Co-Director of the Virginia chapter of the International Dark-Sky Association. Following Laura's talk, we walked out onto the lawn below the Quarters for a panoramic view of the Milky Way, the setting crescent moon, and stars and constellations of the evening sky. Other public events in this series included a screening of the documentary, "The City Dark," and a public program and writing workshop by the author.
Earlier this year, in conjunction with Blandy Summer Nature Camp, we participated in "Valley Reads," a Handley Regional Library-sponsored program that enlists community organizations to encourage reading. Blandy served as a registration site for this program, and kids enrolled in nature camp were given a free book to launch their summer of reading.
Blandy, a community of avid readers, is home to the Blandy Book Club, which focuses on environmental literature and natural history. What better way to promote reading than to link our beautiful landscape to the power of the written word.

  Educators create nature journals at the Arboretum's Native Plant Trail.

 Teacher Workshop Studies the Flora of Virginia
 Field Studies, Classroom Instruction Combine Best of Blandy

By Emily Ford
Lead School Program Presenter
On June 23, 2015, Blandy hosted Schoolyard Botany: A Workshop for Educators, one of four held across the state this spring. The Flora of Virginia Project received a grant from the Virginia Department of Forestry's Urban and Community Forestry Grant Assistance Program (a grant program funded by the USDA Forest Service and administered by VDOF) to offer four workshops in Virginia.  Additional funding was provided by the Flora of Virginia Project, the Virginia Natural Heritage Programs, and the project hosts, including Blandy Experimental Farm. 
Eighteen educators from a variety of teaching environments, including public and private schools, local libraries, and Virginia Master Naturalists, attended the all-day workshop at Blandy.  Attendees participated in hands-on activities led by Barbara Adcock, STEM educator, who created 13 lessons for grades K-5 inspired by the Flora of Virginia. The activities are designed to connect the disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) through investigation of the natural world. Participating educators made nature journals and mini herbaria (pressed plant collections) using repurposed materials, built flower models, utilized maps to explore endemic species to Virginia, and explored some historical connections between plants and human communities. 

Emily Ford, Blandy Lead Environmental Educator, engaged participants in some of Blandy's education program activities. Educators developed keen observation skills as they examined the flower anatomy of several native plants and specific adaptations that promote visitation by insect pollinators. Emily incorporated mathematics into this activity by teaching educators to examine floral formulas, counting flower parts and determining the ratios among them.  The number and ratio of floral parts (sepals, petals, stamens, and carpels) is fairly uniform in flower species and flowering plant families; knowing how to recognize these patterns helps with plant identification. 
Teachers left the workshop filled with new knowledge and ideas for teaching students about Virginia native plants, and all 13 of the lesson plans and several other resources to help them incorporate native plants into their curricula.
Barbara Adcock remarked that the State Arboretum of Virginia was a wonderful location for the Schoolyard Botany workshop because we showcase many of our native Virginia plants in several areas of the arboretum (Native Plant Trail woodland and meadows, Trees of Virginia, and the Pollination Garden) and we provide good examples of how educators can use the outdoors as a living classroom.
Emerald Ash Borer's Newest Victim: White Fringetree
Invasive Pest Poses Dilemma for Landscape Managers

By T'ai Roulston
White fringetree
(Chionanthus virginicus)
The emerald ash borer, an Asian beetle first found in North America in 2002, has spread to most regions of eastern North America, killing millions of wild and cultivated ash trees. Ash trees are in the plant family Oleaceae, the olive family. While ash are the most ecologically prominent native members of that family in Virginia, they are not the only members. White fringetree, Chionanthus virginicus L., occurs in nearly every county and is increasingly popular as a small ornamental tree because of its large spring displays of white flowers. It is particularly notable at the State Arboretum of Virginia because it is planted in very prominent locations along the front entrance and the main walkway to the Quarters. Fringetrees are almost always in full bloom during Garden Fair, by far the most popular weekend at the Arboretum.
In 2014, Dr. Don Cipollini of Wright State University found a small number of white fringetrees in Ohio infected by emerald ash borer. Subsequent work showed between 30 percent and 50 percent of white fringetrees were infected at additional sites in Ohio and Illinois. So we know the pest is now commonly using white fringetrees as a host where available.
This is certainly very bad news for these beautiful trees and the native insects that feed on them. It also poses a troubling dilemma for people who plant our native fringetree.
Like ash trees, white fringetrees can likely be protected from emerald ash borer by the use of systemic pesticides. But systemic pesticides spread toxin into most or all tissues of the plant, killing not just the invasive pest but also native insects. White fringetrees produce a large floral display that attracts insect pollinators, so a plant defended against emerald ash borer with systemic pesticides will be a plant inviting bees and other insects in for a toxic lunch. This risk has been downplayed when using systemic pesticides on ash trees because ash trees are wind-pollinated, even though ash pollen is sometimes collected by bees.
Protecting either ash trees or fringetrees in the wild is clearly impractical at an important ecological scale. Protecting them in horticultural situations presents some very difficult choices. At the State Arboretum of Virginia, we now have emerald ash borer infecting our ash trees but haven't yet detected them in white fringetree. As much as I would hate to lose that floral display to usher in the crowd for Garden Fair, I am loathe to turn that floral display into a toxic lunch for bees.
Blandy won't use a systemic pesticide on fringetrees, but I haven't committed one way or the other on ash trees. We haven't used it and already we are suffering the consequences.

Three New Faces Join Blandy Staff 
Three new employees recently joined the Blandy staff -- in the main office, on the Arboretum grounds, and on weekends.

Carol Melby
Carol Melby is the new administrative assistant in the main office, handling facilities use requests, ordering supplies, and answering phones,

Carol graduated from James Wood High School in Winchester, studied music education at Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory, NC, and earned a masters degree in arts administration. She was managing director for Musica Viva in Winchester and currently manages the Arts Chorale of Winchester. She has two daughters, one son in law, and has a grandchild on the way.

Dana Melby
Dana Melby is the new arboretum specialist, caring for the collection and helping maintain the grounds. (She is also Carol's niece.) Dana attended Sherando High School in Winchester, earned her bachelor's degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and completed her master's degree in international agriculture at Oklahoma State University

Dana's primary interest is community agricultural development, and she worked in Samoa developing community gardens while studying abroad. She worked at Horton's Nursery in Winchester and also at the Winchester and Berryville farmer's markets. In addition to gardening, she enjoys hiking and upland bird hunting.

Rodney Dever
Rodney Dever joined the weekend staff as a visitor aide. He holds a B.S. in environmental studies from Shepherd University and a master's degree in plant systematics from West Virginia University

Rodney's focus is on natural history education. He is president of the Eastern Panhandle chapter of the West Virginia Native Plant Society, and regularly leads nature walks and plant identification workshops.

Be sure to welcome these three new staff members the next time you are enjoying the Arboretum grounds.
Young Naturalist Program Gets Kids Outside in Winter
No Winter Blues on These Five Saturdays

Most of us hope snow and cold weather are still months away, but it's not too early to mark your calendars for FOSA's winter Young Naturalist series for kids. We've got five exciting programs planned for winter Saturdays, including our first-ever evening offering.
The Young Naturalist series begins in January, with the following themes and dates: Virginia's Native Americans (January 9), Creatures of the Night (January 23), Eco Warriors (February 6), Skulls, Skins, and Scat (February 20), and Signs of Spring (March 5). Except for the January 23 evening program (details forthcoming), 1st-3rd graders meet 9-11:30 a.m., and 4th-6th graders meet 12:30-3 p.m.
These programs are a great opportunity for kids to explore nature in winter under the guidance of Blandy staff and a dedicated group of Master Naturalist volunteers. Watch for details later this fall.
Swap Seeds, Books, and Magazines at Seed Exchange 
Author Forrest Pritchard Will Read From His Latest Book

The 6th Annual FOSA/NSVMGA Seed Exchange is set for 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Jan. 30, 2016 in the Blandy library.
Bring seeds, plants, roots, and cuttings plus books or magazines to swap with fellow gardeners. Please do not bring any alien invasive plants on the State Arboretum of Virginia's Invasive Species List: 
Author Forrest Pritchard will sign copies of his latest book.
Several vendors will be on hand with live herbs, products made from dried herbs, and teas. Forrest Pritchard,
seventh generation farmer and New York Times bestselling author, will do a brief reading from his latest book, Growing Tomorrow, (releasing October 2015). Master Gardeners from the Northern Shenandoah Valley Master Gardener Association (NSVMGA) will be on hand to answer gardening questions. Admission is free.
The Seed Exchange is co-sponsored by the Foundation of the State Arboretum and the NSVMGA.
The Northern Shenandoah Valley Master Gardener Association ( serves the counties of Clarke, Frederick, Page, Shenandoah, and Warren. Extension Master Gardeners are volunteer educators who work within their communities to encourage and promote environmentally sound horticulture practices through sustainable landscape management, education, and training.