Newsletter of the Foundation of the State Arboretum Fall 2016
Greg Larsen set a goal for himself: Run 1,000 kilometers over the course of a year, preferably before his 61st birthday Nov. 11, 2016.
The Winchester resident achieved the 1,000K mark at about 4:30 p.m. Aug. 30, at his favorite place to run: Blandy Experimental Farm.
"Blandy is a great place to run," Greg said. He added that the variety of surfaces available means he can choose to run on pavement, gravel, grass, or even the uneven terrain of the bridle trail.
Greg's motivation to reach 1,000 "clicks" in one year stems from an online challenge for runners called "You Vs. the Year," sponsored by Under Armor, a fitness clothing manufacturer. Using an app called Map My Run, Greg logs each time he runs. His phone's built-in GPS creates a map and satellite view of the route with his distance calculated, and it stores the information for the online challenge. Those who complete 1,000 kilometers in one year can earn product rewards from Under Armor.
In what he calls a "curious coincidence," Greg began running for recreation in 1983 in Ottawa, Ontario, where he did most of his running at the Dominion Arboretum, which is part of
Central Experimental Farm
So what's next?
Since Greg completed the 1,000 kilometer challenge four months early, he's upping his goal to 1,500K by the end of the year. And that milestone will probably also be reached somewhere at Blandy.
Wish him luck!
Hay rides are a popular tradition at ArborFest.
ArborFest Fall Festival is Oct. 8 & 9
Events Include Pumpkin Carving, Hard Cider Tasting
By Koy Mislowsky
Events & Volunteer Coordinator
Join us for ArborFest this year Oct. 8 and 9 for the
Arboretum's popular fall festival and plant sale.
FOSA will host a 5K walk beginning at 8 a.m. Saturday to kick off ArborFest weekend. The cost is $20 in advance or $25 the day of the event, and includes free admission to ArborFest. Check out our
online payments page
for information and registration.
In addition to our wonderful plant and garden accessory vendors we will also have some sustainable farm-to-table vendors. Some of our new vendors include Shawnee Canning Company, Great Harvest Bread Company, and the Clarke County Historical Association, selling locally ground grain from the historic Burwell-Morgan Mill in Millwood. West Oaks Farm Market will be selling "everything apples" and offering apple tastings and Red Bud Farm will sell their organic fertilizer made from worm castings.
In another first for ArborFest, Winchester Cider Works will offer hard cider tastings from 12 to 4 both days. Author Forrest Pritchard will be here selling and signing his new book,
, and we will have Jeff Keiling from Madhaunter's Madhouse carving pumpkins.
Linda Lay and Springfield Exit will perform again this year on Sunday from 1 to 4 in the amphitheater and Scott Johnston will give a professional tree climbing demonstration at 3:15 each day. Traditional favorites will include hayrides, guided walks, and Arboretum tours. Children's activities will run from 1 to 3 Saturday and Sunday.
Arboretum Curator T'ai Roulston will lead a historical Arboretum walk Sunday beginning at 3, describing the original layout for Arboretum plantings based on flower structure using a system popular in herbaria in the early 1900s. The walk will include a stop to see trees planted this year to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Blandy's designation as the State Arboretum of Virginia by the Virginia General Assembly.
So come join us for ArborFest! It is going to be a fun, fall family event! In honor of our 30th anniversary, early birds can pay online in advance and save 30 percent, just $7 per car. Admission is $10 per car the day of the event, and proceeds benefit the Arboretum and its programs throughout the year.
Learn What's Where and Why It's There
ArborFest Walk Explains Arboretum's Historical Design
By T'ai Roulston
Note: Curator T'ai Roulston will lead a walk at 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 9, to explain the historical arrangement of Arboretum plantings. The walk will include a stop to see trees planted this year to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Blandy's designation as the State Arboretum of Virginia.
You'd be forgiven if you'd visited the Arboretum and didn't recognize the principles that have guided the placement of plants around the property. That is because 1) there are several, 2) they are intermixed, 3) the Arboretum is large, and 4) you are small and can't see everything at once. You may have noticed particular horticultural planting features, like lining the path to the Quarters with boxwoods, bordering the Arboretum with conifers, and edging Dogwood Lane with, well, dogwoods. You may have noticed the research groves (chestnuts and ginkgos), or the native plant habitats (the Native Plant Trail). All these features, however, represent a modest proportion of the overall planting layout. What you likely missed was the biggest organizing principle in the Arboretum: the evolution of plants as understood in the 1920s.
Dr. Orland E. White, the first director of Blandy Experimental Farm, designed the layout of the Arboretum based on flower structure.
Following scientific adoption of evolution as a unifying biological concept in the 19th and 20th centuries, plant classification systems adopted the goal of creating a hierarchical nomenclatural scheme that incorporated information on the evolutionary relationships between plant groups based on the overall pattern of shared characteristics. Such a system not only grouped plants that shared many features, it linked them across time based on a presumed directionality in shifts from simple to more complex structures, particularly those involved in plant reproduction. The earliest, most widely adopted scheme was the system developed by Adolf Engler and Karl Prantl in the late 19th century. In their 23 volume world flora entitled
Die Natürlichen Pflanzenfamilien
(The Natural Plant Families), the German botanists organized all known plant groups into a single taxonomic system. The Engler-Prantl system was widely adopted as an intellectual starting point for studying relatedness among plant groups, and a physical organizer for many research herbaria: plant specimens in manila envelopes would be arranged in metal cabinets positioned in the room such that a plant's closest relatives would in the same cabinet or nearby cabinets. Thus, a system most easily understood with line drawings sketched out like human family trees became a three-dimensional system arranged in cabinets within buildings.
Orland E. White, the originator of the Arboretum at Blandy Experimental Farm, studied plant heredity and laid out the arboretum in family groups along axes of increasing floral complexity to match the Engler-Prantl system. Just behind Lake Georgette, you'll find families of trees with simple, wind-pollinated flowers, such as oak, beech, birch, and elm. Moving from west to east along the southern edge of the Arboretum, floral complexity increases. Soon come the magnolias and tulip poplars, lineages with insect pollinated flowers but only one kind of structure (tepals) surrounding the anthers and ovary, rather than both petals and sepals. Moving across still further comes the rose family -- petals and sepals both, the petals often showy. The original layout continues through the legumes, the maples, buckeyes, and buckthorns. To the north, parallel to the first line of plant families, the march
through the plant families. The olive family, to which our beleaguered green and white ash trees belong, occupies the northeastern corner of the Arboretum. Then going west, you would encounter the figworts, bignonias, and the honeysuckles, all families with highly integrated flower parts -- petals fused into floral tubes, stamens variously connected to petals and often greatly modified. So, while these two parallel lines of plantings, west to east in the south, east to west to the north, do not form a simple, linear change in plant morphology, they represent a general overall pattern of increasing complexity that roughly sketches out plant evolution.
Today, the Engler-Prantl system is considered outdated and discussed mainly in its historical context, but most of the plant families that were considered close relatives to each other a century ago are still considered close relatives today. That is very fortunate for us in the Arboretum. While those who inherited herbaria organized around the Engler-Prantl system can shuffle some manila folders of dried plants or use a dolly to shift a cabinet around the room, those of us who inherited Arboreta organized that way would have substantially more trouble shifting the positions of 90-year-old trees.
On the Horizon: Fall Public Programs
From the Leaf Litter Underfoot to Galaxies Far, Far Away
By Steve Carroll
Director of Public Programs
This fall FOSA will offer 16 public programs, the most ever for the season. These include some old favorites, such as Exploring the Night Sky by Telescope, Full Moon Walks, and Guided Walking Meditation, as well as new talks on mushrooms and Shenandoah Valley geology.
One thread that runs through the series is a focus on books and writing. Our fall series opened with Writing in Nature, a journaling workshop offered by FOSA Board member and Master Naturalist Christie Green.
By season's end, Blandy will have hosted four authors who will discuss and sign their books, which can be pre-ordered through Our Shop:
- Andy Moore, Pawpaw: In Search of America's Forgotten Fruit
- Kathryn Aalto, The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh.
- George Constantz, Hollows, Peepers & Highlanders, which focuses on the natural history of Appalachia. This is our annual talk at Shenandoah University, co-hosted by SU's Department of Environmental Studies and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.
- Marta McDowell, All the Presidents' Gardens. Come to this nonpartisan exploration of the White House, from Washington's trees and Lincoln's goats to the rose garden, vegetable plots, and much more.
The Arboretum is home to the Blandy Book Club, which meets from 1-2 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of each month (except November and December). Our fall selections and dates:
- The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh, to complement our author program (September 22)
- The Immense Journey, by Loren Eiseley, (October 27)
But it's not all about books! Other fall programs include fall pruning and tree care, mushrooms and other fungi, a photo workshop in the ginkgo grove, valley geology, and a December Blandy bird count and family festival.
From tiny Appalachian insects to distant, massive galaxies, there is something here for everyone. For details, see our
fall program brochure
at blandy.virginia.edu, under "Programs & Events." Don't delay -- some programs have limited space!
Blandy's 2016 class of undergraduates, graduates, researchers, and faculty pose for a photo following the student research forum Aug. 3. Students from as far away as California and Puerto Rico spent the summer conducting research while living at Blandy.
Class of 2016
Summer of Research Comes to a Close
By Kyle Haynes
Two students were recognized for their forum presentations and were presented with the Tom Callahan Award for Undergraduate Research. Amelia Litz (Humboldt State University) won the award for best presentation. She investigated potential sublethal or lethal effects of the pesticide Sulfoxaflor on the alfalfa leafcutter bee (Megachile rotundata).
The award for most creative project went to Sara Alvarez (University of Florida). She studied predator-prey interactions between the predaceous firefly Photuris versicolor and the firefly Photinus pyralis. Specifically, she examined whether P. versicolor assessed prey quality based on P. pyralis flash patterns, and whether P. pyralis change their mating behavior in the presence of the predator P. versicolor.
Blandy's Research Experience for Undergraduate Program (REU) is funded by the National Science Foundation, and by Blandy internal funds. The program provides mentored research experience with an established researcher. The Callahan Award is given in memory of former FOSA Board Member Tom Callahan, who lost his battle with cancer in 1999.
FOSA Board Elects New Officers
Longtime Treasurer Kathy Clark Recognized for Service
The FOSA Board of Directors, at its July 13, 2016 meeting, elected Christine Perdue as President, Steve Bauserman as Vice President/Treasurer, Mary Olien as Secretary, and Bob Lee as Immediate Past President. The Board also welcomed three new board members: Christie Green of Winchester, Polly Rowley of Middleburg, and Nancy Takahashi of Charlottesville. Kathy Clark was designated Treasurer
Emeritus in recognition of her many years of service to Blandy.
The new greenhouse features 2,000 square feet under glass plus a headhouse for storage.
Building for the Future
New Greenhouse and Cottages Nearly Complete
By Dave Carr
Director, Blandy Experimental Farm
The new construction at Blandy is just about finished. Nielsen Builders Inc., our general contractor, is down to dotting i'
s and crossing t's
, and we expect the buildings to be turned over to Blandy by the end of September. Construction began the first week of April, and things are far enough along to give everyone their first tour.
Blandy has added two new cottages for visiting faculty, doubling the size of our "Research Village." The exterior of the new cottages is very similar to the originals, but the screen porches are noticeably shorter to accommodate an extra bathroom in each unit. Their white board and batten exterior walls and bright red metal roofs, of course, reflect Blandy's signature look.
Inside, the floor plan is again similar to the original cottages, but by adding the second bathroom, we've been able to separate the pairs of bed and bathrooms into small suites. The bedrooms are cozy, and each
be equipped with a bunk bed. The airy great room, with its cathedral ceiling (another new feature), will serve as
dining and living space. The kitchen is equipped with basic appliances, and we'll soon fill each one with standard kitchenware so that our visiting researchers don't have to pack too much from home when they spend the summer with us.
In keeping with updated University of Virginia policies on residences, both of the new cottages are equipped with sprinklers in every room. In order to provide sufficient pressurized water, we had to construct a small shed between the two buildings that includes a storage tank and pressure pump. Both cottages are also ADA accessible, and a new sidewalk has been added to the Village to allow wheelchair access from the parking lot.
The new research greenhouse is located next door to the new lab (opened in 2012), allowing researchers to move seamlessly between the two buildings. The new structure includes a 500-square-foot head house and 2,000 square feet under glass. The head house is an essential feature missing from the old Blandy research greenhouse. We'll be able to store pots, trays, and soil inside, as well as set up work benches for potting and use the new sink for cleaning.
The growing area is divided into four 510-square foot bays accessed off a long corridor that leads from the headhouse. Each of the bays is equipped with rolling benches that make the most efficient use of the space (increasing growing space by 70 percent relative to the old greenhouse). The concrete floors will greatly diminish pest problems and help make the entire greenhouse ADA accessible. Computerized climate controls in each bay operate vents in the walls and roof, circulating fans, exhaust fans, and, even retractable shades in the ceiling. Heat in the winter will be provided by propane furnaces. Lighting and climate controls can be set independently in each room so that optimal growing conditions can be provided for different projects.
A modern laboratory, greenhouse, and cottages have certainly brought Blandy into the 21st century. After years of apologizing for our shortcomings, our capability to support research in the environmental sciences is now something about which we can be rightfully proud. A debt of gratitude is owed to all of those who have helped us along this journey, including our architects (Train Architects), our general contractors (Nielsen and earlier Lantz Construction Co. for the lab), the University's Office of the Architect, Facilities Management, the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, the National Science Foundation, and all the good people at Blandy!
Holiday Workshops Continues a Clarke County Tradition
This December, gather with friends to create a festive holiday wreath made from freshly cut natural materials gathered from the State Arboretum.
Workshops are set for Saturday, December 3 and Sunday, December 4, 9:30 to Noon or 1:30 to 4:30.
Participants will create an original mixed evergreen wreath in either a 12-inch or 20-inch size.
12" FOSA Member $33.00
Non Member $38.00
20" FOSA Member $44.00
Non Member $49.00
Come join us and kick off your holiday season! Register early to avoid disappointment. Registration will be open about November 1. Classes fill quickly.
You can subscribe to our Holiday Workshops email list here to receive a message when registration opens. F
or information call Robin Arnold at 837-1758 Ext 224 M-F 1-5 p.m.
Science Cafés and Flash Mobs
Blandy is Reaching Out to the Public in New Ways
By Steve Carroll
Director of Public Programs
Every year, Blandy hosts a medley of public talks, workshops, tours, and more. This year we added two new twists to our outreach -- a science café and a flash mob.
In May, we collaborated with the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum, and Handley Regional Library to offer the first Shenandoah Valley Science Café, which we held at Union Jack Pub & Restaurant in Winchester.
What's a Science Café?
Science Cafés don't all fit a single mold, but they are typically held in a restaurant, bar, or other public space and include a brief, informal presentation on a topic of wide interest. These talks are meant to be informal and entertaining, but with an underlying kernel of information. Cafés also frequently include trivia, games, hands-on activities, and other diversions, and questions and audience participation are encouraged.
In our spring Café, Sam Quinn from The Farm at Sunnyside gave an entertaining, illustrated talk on bees to an audience of about 50. It was standing room only. We had questions, pollinator trivia, and door prizes, and based on evaluations from those in attendance, it was a great success.
Watch for our next Science Café this fall.
The topic will be wind energy, and our presenter will be Remy Pangle, Associate Director of James Madison University's Center for Wind Energy.
A Flash Mob?
Flash mobs are seemingly spontaneous events in public spaces that often involve music or drama. The internet is full of music, dance, and dramatic performances that begin suddenly in shopping malls, train stations, city parks and streets, and elsewhere. They appear to erupt spontaneously from their surroundings, and when they end, the performers melt back into the crowd. These are not advertised to the general public, but are "organized" via social media, usually among a select group, such as members of an orchestra or dramatic troupe.
Science flash mobs are not nearly as common, but they are beginning to pop up around the world. Blandy hosted its first flash mob in July, and what better focus for a flash mob than our own amazing fireflies!
We spread word of this event just a few days ahead of time via Facebook and Twitter. It was billed
s an opportunity to view one of nature's amazing spectacles, with no program and no cost. Sixteen people joined us on a beautiful Friday evening to watch one of the natural world's most remarkable shows.
Will we have another flash mob at Blandy? Surely you don't expect to read about that here!
Third grade teachers try out science and math teaching materials purchased through the TREE Fund project.
Partnership with Clarke County Schools Grows Stronger
By Candace Lutzow-Felling
Director of Education
Candace Lutzow-Felling, Blandy's Director of Education and Debbie Biggs, Clarke County Public Schools STEM Coordinator, received a $7560 grant from the Clarke County Education Foundation to continue and build upon our multi-year education partnership. This is the fifth grant Candace and Debbie have received in the past three years in support of Clarke County Public School's long-term vision to implement outdoor-based, multi-disciplinary curricula into their elementary and middle school grades.
The project began with 3rd grade during the 2014-15 school year. Fourth grade was added for 2015-16. This new funding for the 2016-17 school year will allow us to include 5th grade and continue our work with the 3rd and 4th grade classes. Plans are under way to write a more extensive, multi-year grant proposal to fund future systemic incorporation of multi-disciplinary, outdoor-based curricula for several grades at the elementary, middle, and high school levels.
Our overall project goal is to provide Clarke County Public School (CCPS) teachers with the skills and resources to implement integrative teaching strategies in both indoor and outdoor classroom settings. Teachers participate in several professional development workshops during the school year. Multi-disciplinary teaching strategies are modeled and practiced, and lessons integrating math, science, social science, and language arts are developed in partnership with Blandy educators during these workshops. Each project also provides funds for all participating grade level students to conduct investigations at Blandy at least once during the school year and for Blandy educators to visit their schools to engage in co-teaching with their teachers.
Our initial project, "Seeing the Forest and the Trees," funded by a grant awarded to FOSA by the TREE Fund Foundation, focused on 3rd grade students and teachers. The Blandy Education Team worked with CCPS teachers to create a tree-focused, year-round science, mathematics and English curriculum
◊ measured trees as seedlings and at maturity;
◊ explored tree needs for survival;
◊ investigated the importance of trees as habitat for other organisms;
◊ examined forest structure;
◊ read books about trees;
◊ created their own tree journals;
◊ wrote haiku about trees; and
◊ planted trees in Blandy's Community Forest and Clarke County High School.
Clarke County Education Foundation provided funds to continue the 3rd grade tree-based curriculum with a new group of students for the 2015-16 school year.
As these 3rd grade students moved into 4th grade, we continued our integrative, outdoor-based curriculum project with "Watersheds: Our Home, Our Life!," through grants from the Chesapeake Bay Trust and the Weiss Family Foundation awarded to Clarke County Public Schools. During this project, Blandy educators and the CCPS 4th grade teaching team developed two units, one focused on knowing one's watershed and the other on the importance of watersheds as habitat for plants and animals.
created watershed models and explored how water flows into and out of watersheds;
◊ made roof models and studied how rainwater flows off impermeable and
◊ examined plant and insect adaptations important for pollination;
◊ selected native plants to include in a schoolyard pollination garden;
◊ designed and planted their pollination gardens; and
◊ wrote a school newsletter describing what they had learned about watersheds.
Our new Clarke County Education Foundation grant provides funds to continue Blandy's partnership with the 3rd and 4th grade teaching teams and add 5th grade to the project. For 5th grade, the Blandy Education Team will work with the 5th grade CCPS teaching team to create two outdoor-based, integrative curricular units, one focused on sound and vibrations and the other on rocks and earth processes. In the fall, students will investigate how birds make sounds and learn how to record and analyze bird songs. In the spring, students will study different types of rocks and engage in outdoor investigations to examine various earth processes (such as deposition, erosion, and weathering). Students will
construct their own seismographs (an instrument that records earthquake forces and duration) and then will use their instruments to record various vibrations (such as walking and car motion). They will use their math skills to analyze a seismogram of the 2011 Virginia earthquake.
Please visit our Blandy Education web site to learn more about our 3rd and 4th grade projects.
Seeing the Forest and the Trees 3rd grade project:
Watersheds: Our Home, Our Life! 4th grade project:
Recollections of Blandy
Thom Flory Recalls Growing Up at Blandy
Note: Walter S. Flory Jr. was the first student to receive his Ph.D. from Blandy's first director, Dr. Orland E. White. Dr. Flory went on to become Curator of the Orland E. White Arboretum in 1955.
My father, Walter S. Flory Jr., was born in Rockingham County, where all his ancestral families had resided since the 1700s. He graduated from Bridgewater College in 1928, took a UVa Master's in Zoology in 1929, and took the very first Blandy Ph.D. (Botany) under Dr. Orland E. White in 1931.
Actually there were three Blandy Ph.D.s in 1931, but Flory came alphabetically before Hans Heyn (from Kreis Huenfeld, Hessen, Germany) and Thomas W. Whitaker (who did his undergraduate at Berkeley and returned to UCSD), so my father received his diploma first.
My father stayed in touch with his classmates his entire life, traveling with Tom Whitaker to Australia when they were both well into their 70s. My parents had met as freshman at Bridgewater in 1924 (both started at 16 years old), and married in April 1930 at First Presbyterian in Winchester. Dr. White thought graduate students should spend all of their time (and more) on research, and definitely thought that marriage interfered with the amount of time they should be devoting to studies. I think my parents had a two-day honeymoon before my mother returned to her home so my father could devote the requisite all of his time and more; he got his Ph.D. in a remarkably short period of time, so apparently he did.
Like many people, m
y parents struggled through the Great Depression. Dr. White offered my father a post-doc, but instead he went to work at Shaver Brother's Canning in Jacksonville, FL, with the understanding that he would inherit the business. Unfortunately payroll kept getting further and further behind and eventually the company went bankrupt, leaving my father with a check against non-existent funds.
My father had various jobs, including buying tomatoes for a canning company in Mississippi, until he was (mis)diagnosed as having less than six months to live, at which point he returned to Virginia to look for jobs closer to home. He said that the closest thing he had to a luxury was a subscription to Science so that he could read the obits for job leads. He heard through the grapevine that Lewisburg (WV) Military Academy needed a biology teacher, so he and my mother drove there from his parent's home in Rockingham County.
Upon arrival, he was told "Sorry, it's already filled, but I heard that the math instructor at Lewisburg Junior College eloped last night." Straight to Lewisburg Junior College for Women, where the President said "I only found out an hour ago; how did you get here so quick?" My father said that he was a UVa Ph.D. (not emphasizing that his degree had very little to do with math), and was applying for the job. The President asked "Are you married?" "Is your wife with you?" "Can I see her?"
The appropriate vetting having been done, he was offered the job of math instructor and house parents in the women's dorm (the reason for the marriage questions) for room, board and $50 per month IF there was any money - they got a total of $100 for the 1933-34 school year, but did have a place to live and food to eat, and my mother got to claim that if not for her he never would have gotten the job. In 1934-35 my father taught at Bridgewater (VA) College, with pay again based on whether any money was available -- I think they did slightly better that year, and got paid for three months as opposed to two months the previous year.
In 1935-36 my father got a National Research Council post-doc at Harvard. In 1936 my parents moved to the Horticulture Farm at Texas A&M, and a really plum job with pay coming from a USDA grant with checks that were cashable (employees being paid with state of Texas funds were receiving checks post-dated 18 months, and could only be cashed at a substantial discount). Both my sister and brother were born while my parents were in Texas. Early in 1944 my father accepted a professorship at VPI and I was born while they lived in Blacksburg.
Throughout these years, my father and Dr. White had stayed in contact, and Dr. White was still interested in getting my father to return to Blandy. Dr. White spent roughly half the year in Charlottesville and half at Blandy (after the new Quarters extension was built in 1941, in an apartment above the new main entrance way), and he wanted a full-time professor at Blandy. Apparently there were considerable negotiations, summed up by Dr. White's comment that "So you won't come unless it is a full professorship, and Maude (my mother) won't come unless the house (in 2016 housing the Arboretum's arborist) gets central heat." Obviously all of this was resolved, or I wouldn't be writing this.