Newsletter of the Foundation of the State Arboretum                 Summer 2017

Summer Nature Camp Begins Soon
Do You Know a
Budding Scientist?

 

Blandy's 700-plus acres will once again be home base for three summer nature camps, allowing participants to experience the best of nature under the guidance of area teachers and environmental educators.

 

In "Life Down Under" (June 26-28, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.) rising 2nd-4th graders will discover what's going on under the leaf litter, under logs, under the surface of the water, and more. We'll explore these habitats, investigate the creatures that live there, and participate in related hands-on activities, games, and crafts.

 

"Solid, Liquid, STEAM" serves the same age group but meets for five shorter days (July 10-14, 9 a.m.-Noon). We will take advantage of five days and five ways to explore nature, drawing on Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math, the cornerstones of STEAM. We will use Blandy's plants, animals, habitats, weather, and more to help in our explorations.

 

Our third camp, "EcoExplorers" (July 17-21, 9 a.m.-Noon), for rising 5th-8th graders, is investigative. Campers work in pairs to ask a question about the natural world. With help from group leaders, they then design an experiment and collect and analyze data to answer their research question. Camp participants present their results to parents and Blandy students and staff on the final morning.

 

All camps benefit from experienced leaders and from hands-on activities led by college research students in residence at Blandy through a program funded by the National Science Foundation.

 

Register online at blandy.virginia.edu/our-foundation/online_payments or by phone at 540-837-1758 Ext. 224 M-F, 1-5 p.m.

 

Cost per camp is $110 for FOSA members and $130 for nonmembers ($100 and $120 if registering for more than one child or camp). Families that have participated in past Summer Nature Camps or Young Naturalist Programs receive an extra $10 off. Scholarships are also available; call 540-837-1758 Ext. 287 to inquire.

 

Preregistration and payment are required for participation, with no refunds after June 12.

 

Come get your nature fix at Blandy!



Click to enlarge

Students Arrive for a Summer of Research
REU Program Creates a Lifetime of Memories
By Dave Carr
Director, Blandy Experimental Farm
We have arrived at the time of the year when Blandy transforms into a bustling research enterprise. The summer of 2017 promises to be the busiest and most crowded summer ever. Fortunately we have added two new two-bedroom cottages and a new 2,000-square-foot greenhouse to accommodate additional people and more research. The facilities will be full for most of the summer.

The influx includes a large contingent of undergraduates who will be taking part in our National Science Foundation-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program. These 11 students are paired with a faculty or graduate student mentor and will spend 11 weeks designing projects, collecting and analyzing data, and ultimately presenting their findings in Blandy's Summer Research Forum on Aug. 2 (open to the public).

A researcher attaches a microchip to the back of a bumble bee to monitor its activity.
The undergraduates come from far and wide. We have one student from our own University of Virginia, but the rest come from outside the Commonwealth, from New Jersey to California, Minnesota to Texas. The students receive a generous stipend and $800 for their research projects, and they live in the rustic dorm rooms of the Quarters, carrying on a tradition that dates to Blandy's earliest days.

Graduate students represent the next largest group of researchers.This year all seven are from UVa. These students are conducting research for their master's theses or doctoral dissertations. Most of the funds for graduate student support come directly from Blandy, but the Foundation of the State Arboretum has a long tradition of supporting graduate student research as well. 

Blandy has clearly become one of the premier ecology research centers on the east coast.
 Two master's students are brand  new to Blandy, while the others  are veterans of multiple summers.  Two Blandy graduate students,  Ariela Haber and Gerry  Woodworth, successfully defended  their dissertations this spring and are now moving on to new challenges. Later this summer Dr. Haber will start a postdoc at the University of Maryland where she'll be working on honeybees. Dr. Woodworth has accepted a position teaching at Mid-Atlantic Christian University in Elizabeth City, NC.

In addition to the resident Blandy faculty, Drs. Patrick Crumrine (Rowan University) and Mary McKenna (Howard University) will be returning to Blandy. It's Patrick's 14th summer as the coordinator of our REU program.

Two new faculty will be spending most of their summer at Blandy. Dr. Rebecca Forkner of George Mason University will be joining us. Rebecca conducted her own research at Blandy as a visiting faculty member last year, but this will be the first time she mentors an REU student in our program. Her research at Blandy focuses on the role of biochemistry and herbivorous insects in the color change we see each fall in our deciduous trees. Dr. Jose Fuentes from Penn State is also staying at Blandy. Jose is no stranger to us. He is a former UVa professor, and he has been collaborating with Blandy's Curator, T'ai Roulston, for several years. Jose is an atmospheric scientist, and he, T'ai, and students they mentor are studying the effects of ozone pollution on the chemical signals that pollinators use to locate flowers.

A new addition to Blandy's summer research community will be two local high school students, one from John Handley High School in Winchester and the other from James Wood High School in Frederick County. These students are being supported by donations made through the Foundation of the State Arboretum. In this new internship program, the high school students will get to assist in many of the projects that are under way at Blandy this summer, getting experience in a wide range of ecological research that will build a tremendous foundation in science before they head off to college. We're hoping to make this an annual program.

In addition to the researchers described above, many others will be passing through Blandy this summer. They include several undergraduate technicians, faculty, post docs, and grad students from other universities.  Many of these researchers will be at Blandy for only a week or two, but others will have extended stays. The crush of eager researchers is a great testament to the value of the resource we've created here over the past few decades. Blandy has clearly become one of the premier ecology research centers on the east coast.
FOSA Members Elect New Board, Officers
Steve Bauserman to be Next Foundation President
By Martha Bjelland
Director, Foundation of the State Arboretum
FOSA held its annual meeting June 14 at Blandy Experimental Farm. FOSA President Christine Perdue presided over the meeting. 
 
Members present elected new directors Karla Etten of Ashburn, Scott Johnston of Marshall and Marianne Stanley of Leesburg each to a three-year term (FY2018-20).

Members ratified board members Chris Oldham, Christine Perdue and Roma Sherman each to an additional three-year term (FY2016-19); and elected Jolly de Give, Hank Hartz, Anne Heacock, Bob Lee and Elsie Wilson Thompson each to an additional three-year term (FY2018-20). Bruce Downing, Joan Fine and David Look will rotate off the board due to term limits.
 
Following the business meeting, Blandy Associate Director Kyle Haynes, Principal Investigator and Ph.D., presented an overview on the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program currently under way at Blandy.
 
Board members met after the presentation and elected the new officer slate: President Steve Bauserman; Vice President Elsie Wilson Thompson; Treasurer Anne Heacock; Secretary Mary Olien; and Past President Christine Perdue. 
Summer Programs May Keep You Up Late
Evening Sessions Include Historical Talks, Guided Walks, and "Mothing"
By Steve Carroll
Director of Public Programs
Are you well rested? FOSA's public programs during the second half of the summer are all about the evening, either because they are scheduled for after dinner or because they focus on the evening environment and its inhabitants.
 
July begins with an illustrated retrospective by Thom Flory about growing up at Blandy. Thom's father, Walter Flory, was Blandy's Associate Director and Curator. Thom moved to Blandy before his first birthday and lived here until leaving for college. He has a unique perspective on life at Blandy during the Orland E. White and Ralph Singleton years, a formative period for Blandy that witnessed many changes.
 
And speaking of change, Dr. Charlie Hagan will address the topic of climate change in an evening talk Tuesday, July 18th. He addresses tough questions such as worst-case scenarios and issues related to denial of human-induced climate change.
 
Luna Moth by Deborah Davis
Next up are two programs on moths. On Sunday, July 23rd, artist Deborah Davis discusses moth life cycles and conservation while sharing her beautiful paintings of native moths. The following Friday, July 28th, two of our youngest Master Naturalists lead participants in an after-dark "mothing" party, during which we will attract, catch, and release moths at Blandy.
 
Following our moth programs we offer two evening walks, a full moon walk Monday, August 7th, and guided walking meditation Wednesday, August 16th.
 
Our summer series wraps up by pointing you in the right direction in a presentation by National Park Service cartographer Tom Patterson. In "Getting Oriented: Making Maps for 330 Million National Park Visitors" Tom will talk about map-making and explain how maps reflect our parks' unique natural, cultural, and historical stories. This program should be fascinating-and it's free!
 
There are so many reasons to visit Blandy. Why not join us for a program? Check out the complete summer programs brochure here.

Has the Origin of Dogwood Anthracnose Been Identified?
Molecular Research Finds a Smoking Gun
By T'ai Roulston
Arboretum Curator
American dogwoods, especially flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) and Pacific dogwood ( Cornus nuttallii), have suffered greatly since the appearance of dogwood anthracnose disease in the 1970s. It came suddenly and hit hard, causing substantial economic losses to the horticultural trade. Despite horticultural hardships, it hit the wild trees hardest, killing up to 89 percent of wild dogwoods in some areas. Dogwood anthracnose is a fungus which thrives in the moist shade of the forest, killing trees quickly and reducing fruit production among survivors. Thus, it caused not only the loss of a woodland flower, but a reduction in a forest fruit favored by frugivorous birds. Such reductions were noted even locally when undergraduate researcher Lauren Banas and Blandy's current director (then curator) Dave Carr surveyed the forests of Blandy Experimental Farm in 1998.
 
Dogwood Lane in spring.
Early studies into the origins of the fungal invasion in North America revealed a common theme: little genetic diversity, despite a wide geographic range. That is a common pattern for exotic diseases that spread quickly through a crowd of susceptible victims. Where could it have come from? How could it have gotten here? First guess for a new pest should always be arriving with a close relative brought by international trade from another part of the world. Where pest and host evolve over time, they tend to reach an unsteady balance between virulence of the pest and resistance of the host, both surviving; but when the pest hits an
un-evolved host -- devastation. Think chestnut blight, harbored by a Chinese chestnut brought into New York City early in the 20th century and eliminating the American chestnut as a prominent canopy tree of the Appalachian mountains in a few decades.
 
For dogwood anthracnose, the finger pointing began right away: kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa). The kousa dogwood comes from east Asia, is widely planted as a horticultural tree in North America, and exhibited high resistance to dogwood anthracnose at the outset of the epidemic, just what one would expect of a host that has an evolutionary history with the disease. It was a sensible supposition, but lacking in actual evidence. The disease had not been found on dogwoods in Asia and was not shown to occur anywhere outside of North America, at least not until it was found in Europe in 2002 on American dogwoods sent to Europe from the United States.
 
So what does a smoking gun look like in plant epidemiology? It looks like the research paper written by Stephen Miller of Rutgers University and several international colleagues in the journal PLOS ONE in 2016. Despite the mundane title of the paper ("Real-Time PCR Detection of Dogwood Anthracnose Fungus in Historical Herbarium Specimens from Asia"), the results are quite compelling: Dogwood anthracnose disease was found on Japanese and Chinese dogwood specimens preserved in herbaria prior to the outbreak of the disease in North America. The disease was found on several Asian species of dogwood prior to the outbreak, so it doesn't definitively identify kousa as the carrier, but it does provide strong evidence of the geographic origin of the disease. The smoke of the gun is clear, even if the shooter is still a bit obscured.
 
While on one hand this can be seen as a simple plant pathology detective story, it should be a reminder of how devastating a novel disease can be to the local flora and fauna. So when you see that cute little plant while traveling and think how easily it could fit in your suitcase, and how unlikely it would be for a customs officer to find it, think about the unseen genes coiled within it, waiting to spring on a related victim at home. Don't do it!  

Read Any Good Books Lately?
Blandy Installs Little Free Library

Blandy's newest "building" is a Little Free Library out at the front parking lot. This "take a book - return a book" library is part of an international system of Little Free Libraries meant to encourage reading at all ages. Our LFL was built by Robin Arnold's husband, Bob, and will feature books on nature, gardening, and the out-of-doors, though other genres are welcome. Be sure to stop by and borrow or drop off a book! You can find the locations of other Little Free Libraries at LittleFreeLibrary.org.

Raise a Glass and Celebrate!
The Connection Between Blandy Farm and Blandy Madeira Wine
By Thom Flory
In years past, I have been in Funchal, Madeira and have visited the very nice Blandy Wine Lodge and Tasting Room. I thought it was a coincidence that it had the same surname as Blandy Experimental Farm, but it turns out that there is a connection.

Graham F. Blandy
Graham Furber Blandy (who donated the property that is now Blandy Experimental Farm to UVa) was the son of Graham Blandy and Emmeline Cruse, and the grandson of Thomas Blandy and  Frances Paca Smith (all these people are buried in Saint James Episcopal Cemetery, Wilmington, Delaware). Thomas Blandy was born in Dewlish, Dorset, England, the son of Charles Blandy and Elizabeth Davis. Immigrant Thomas Blandy had a sister Anna who married James Furber, so presumably that is the origin of Graham Furber Blandy's rather unusual middle name.
 
Thomas' older brother John Davis Blandy served in the British Army in Madeira when it was occupied by the British during the Napoleonic Wars. John returned to Dorset and married Jennett Burden at St. Andrews Church, Holburn Jan.  11,   1810. Shortly thereafter John and Jennett along with two of John's younger brothers, Thomas and George, returned to Madeira and Blandy Madeira Wine Company was founded in 1811. Neither younger brother stayed in Madeira, Thomas coming to the United States and George going to Brazil. John Davis Blandy (1783-1855) was the first Managing Director of Blandy Madeira, and later the Managing Directorship passed to his son Charles Ridpath Blandy (1812-1879), then his grandson John Burden Blandy (1841-1912), then his great-grandson John Ernest Blandy (1866-1940), then his great-great-grandson Percy Graham Blandy (1904-1972). After three other Blandy Managing Directors, the current Managing Director is Michael Blandy, a nephew of Percy Graham and a great-great-great-grandson of John Davis.
 
Graham Furber Blandy was the godfather of Percy Graham Blandy, and both Percy Graham and his father, J. Ernest Blandy, are mentioned in the  will of  Georgette Haven Borland Blandy Bull, Graham Furber Blandy's widow.
 
The beautiful Gardens at Quinta do Palheiro on Madeira Island have been owned and developed by the Blandy family since 1885. The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture lists receiving Colocasia sp. tubers on June  18,   1920, from J. Ernest Blandy, Quita do Palheiro, Madeira.
 
Feel free to open a bottle of Blandy Madeira and celebrate the connection.

Thom Flory is the son of the late Walter Flory, a past associate director of Blandy Experimental Farm and curator of the Arboretum.