Newsletter of the Foundation of the State Arboretum                             Winter 2016

Seed Exchange
Set For Jan. 28
Gardeners will again gather in the library for our annual seed exchange Saturday, Jan. 28, from 10 a.m. to  2 p.m. This is a free event.

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

The event, which is sponsored by Our Shop and the Northern Shenandoah Valley Master Gardeners, will also feature a book and magazine swap.  Master gardeners will also help with gardening questions.

For more information call Elaine Specht at 540-459-9657 or visit

Give the Gift of
FOSA Membership
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 $42, or just $30 for seniors over age 65. A family membership is $60 ($48 senior) and your business or nonprofit organization can become a member for $60.

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, or call 540-837-1758 Ext. 224 M-F, 1-5 p.m.

And Happy Holidays!

Sessions for 1st-6th Graders 
Young Naturalist Programs Begin Jan. 14

By Steve Carroll
Director of Public Programs
Winter's arrival means that once again area youngsters have a chance to spend time outdoors exploring Blandy's fields, forests, and wildlife.

On select Saturdays from January 14th through March 11th, we will offer morning programs for 1st-3rd graders (9-11:30 a.m.) and afternoon programs for 4th-6th graders (12:30-3 p.m.). Programs include exploration outside and theme-related hands-on activities, crafts, games, and snacks.

Get Your Kids Outside This Winter!
We begin with "Micro Mayhem" (January 14th), in which we will investigate Blandy's tiniest residents, including aquatic worms, water bears, mosses, lichens, and more. 

In "Arctic Art" (January 28th), participants will connect their inner artist with a love of the outdoors to create artwork both outside and in.

Our third program, "Northern Lights/Winter Nights" (February 11th), is an evening program in which both age groups meet from 6-8:30 p.m. We will investigate the night sky and explore creatures of the night, all under the full moon.

"Can You Top This," February 25th, focuses on extremes-Blandy's tallest trees, fastest animals, and more. Our final program, "Signs of Spring" (March 11th), looks for evidence that spring has arrived. We will seek out calling frogs, singing birds, early spring wildflowers, and more.

Each Young Naturalist program includes theme-related investigative activities, crafts, games, and snacks. Programs are led by Blandy Environmental Educators, and volunteers from the community, particularly Virginia Master Naturalists, assist with programs and lead activities. We greatly appreciate the support of The Adams Companies, which have sponsored FOSA's Young Naturalist programs for many years.

Families should register ahead of time to participate. For more information or to register call 540-837-1758 Ext. 224 M-F, 1-5 p.m., or register online here. Cost is $25 per session ($20 for FOSA members), but families that register for four or more spaces pay only $20 per session ($17 for members). Some scholarships available.

New this year: T he Dining Room in our main building (The Quarters) will be open and available for p arents who wish to avoid extra driving for drop off and pick up, or who wish to spend time at Blandy.
Visitation Has Increased Nearly Five Fold Over the Past 20 Years
Blandy's Success is Connected to Your Support

By Dave Carr
Director, Blandy Experimental Farm
If you're reading this then you must be a supporter of Blandy and the State Arboretum. As a highly successful 2016 comes to a close, I wanted to take my final print opportunity to thank you for that support. It comes in many forms, including being a member of the Foundation of the State Arboretum, volunteering your time (4,169 hours in the last Fiscal Year), making donations (over $106,000 in FY16), serving on the Board, and just helping to spread the word about Blandy, the Arboretum, and its programs. All of that has enabled us to become a better resource for our local community and to better serve the Commonwealth of Virginia more broadly.

Every one of our supporters has some special connection to Blandy and the Arboretum. What that connection is varies widely, and it is often deeply personal. On any given day at Blandy you might see dozens of people arriving to walk their dog, go for a run, stroll through the trees, photograph their family, or spend some quiet time in one of their favorite places. Nearly 8,000 K-12 students took part in our school programs. Well over 3,000 people attended our programs, tours, and lectures. Since I arrived at Blandy nearly 20 years ago, the number of visitors to Blandy has increased nearly five fold, highlighting the value people are putting on Blandy programs and the unique space it has to offer.

Every year presents new challenges, and we never like to rest on our laurels here. Our dedicated staff will continue to build on our past accomplishments, to innovate, build new partnerships, and find new ways to serve our diverse audiences. We always welcome input from you, and we hope that we can count on your continued support in the New Year. Thanks again to all of you, and I wish you continued happiness in 2017.

Curl Up With a Good Book
Noted Authors Coming to Blandy This Winter

Do you love good books and lively presentations? Mark your calendars for two author visits this winter!

On February 11th, Marta McDowell will speak about her most recent book, All the Presidents' Gardens. In this fascinating account, illustrated with beautiful historic photos, Ms. McDowell explores White House gardens from George Washington's trees -- President Washington is described as "a bit plant crazy" -- to Michelle Obama's vegetable gardens, and many, many gardens in between.
Learn about Monroe's cabbages, roses from the Wilson and Kennedy administrations, Lincoln's goats, sheep used during WWI to keep the grass short, and lots more. Marta McDowell's earlier books include Emily Dickenson's Gardens and Beatrix Potter's Gardening Life. The cost for this program is $25 for FOSA members, $30 for nonmembers.

Three weeks later, we kick off our spring program series with an illustrated talk by award-winning author, Jennifer Ackerman, who will speak about her latest book, The Genius of Birds. Ms. Ackerman traveled the world in an effort to understand intelligence in birds. Audience members can expect both to be entertained and to leave with a renewed appreciation for these feathered dinosaurs with "bird brains."  Cost for this program is $20 for FOSA members and $25 for nonmembers.

Both programs will be followed by book signings and refreshments, and books are available for purchase by calling 540-837-1758 Ext. 224 M-F, 1-5 p.m. These can be picked up ahead of time or at the door.   Register online at or by calling the phone number above. Reservations are required as space is limited.
She's Tops with Us!
Tressa Reuling is FOSA Volunteer of the Year
Congratulations to Tressa Reuling, FOSA's Volunteer of the Year!  Tressa has been a volunteer since 2008.  She has served on the Board, volunteered as a Shopkeeper in Our Shop and has been the buyer for Our Shop for the past three years. Tressa has served on many event committees where she has been instrumental in planning the galas, the cocktail parties, and the croquet event.  
Education Update
Blandy's Ed Team Shares Bird Seed Ornament Recipe
Thank you, FOSA members, for your support to environmental education throughout the year!

This recent comment from a visiting school's principal makes us proud of our preK-12 education service:
"The Blandy trip is one of the most raved about and highly anticipated trips of the year for our school.  Our teachers love going there and the level of teaching expertise and hands on learning is unlike any we have experienced in other settings. Happy Holidays to you and yours!"

Enjoy the winter weather and sneak a little ornithology into your festive spirits with this easy Bird Seed Ornaments activity.

Public Garden Pot Recycling at Blandy Comes to an End
For several years the Arboretum has accepted and recycled used garden pots from the public at Garden Fair and ArborFest, our two largest public events. Unfortunately, that policy will be ending due to the high volume of plastic garden refuse that was also left at the Arboretum.
Although the State Arboretum will no longer receive the public's garden pots for recycling, Winchester City Public Works accepts plastics with the recycling codes 1-7.  If you have any questions regarding the recycling of plastic garden pots in Winchester, Frederick County, or Clarke County, please contact the Winchester City Recycling Coordinator, Michael Neese, at 540-667-1815 extension 1452. 

We apologize for any inconvenience and encourage everyone to recycle through their local jurisdictions.

Regional Partnership Provides Financial Assistance
Grant Funds Help Landowners Fight Invasive Plants

The Blue Ridge Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISM), in conjunction with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), has funding available to assist landowners with the removal of invasive plants through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).  The dollar amount available to an eligible landowner depends on many factors but could be as high as $22,000 spread over a three-year period.

A presentation at Blandy Dec. 15 introduced local residents to the program, which covers a 10-county area.
Owners of nonindustrial private forestland and agricultural producers are eligible to apply for this program.  The land in question must be in the 10-county area served by the Blue Ridge PRISM (Albemarle, Augusta, Clarke, Greene, Madison, Nelson, Page, Rappahannock, Rockingham, and Warren counties) and be managed by the applicant.  Your local NRCS District Conservationist (see below) can walk you through other eligibility criteria that rarely apply and answer any questions you may have.
Each landowner accepted into the program will sign a 3-year Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) contract with the NRCS. A $643,915 pool of funds has been reserved in the RCPP program solely for work on invasive plants within this 10-county area.  

Each application must include treating at least one of the following 10 high priority invasive species: ailanthus (tree-of-heaven), autumn olive, Chinese privet, garlic mustard, Japanese honeysuckle, Japanese stiltgrass, kudzu, mile-a-minute vine, multiflora rose, or oriental bittersweet.  Other species on the Invasive Plant Species List published by the VA Department of Conservation and Recreation's Natural Heritage Division may also be included in the application.  
The program has begun, and the first contracts are expected to be signed with landowners in the December to February time frame.  However, there are important steps that you can take now in order to submit an application.  

First you must establish farm records with USDA's Farm Service Agency and verify compliance with the provisions of the Agricultural Act of 2014 or "Farm Bill."  Landowners who have already done this say this process is relatively easy. Then you will work with your local NRCS District Conservationist and possibly your local Virginia Department of Forestry Area Forester to develop a conservation plan that outlines the specific species that will be treated and where the treatment areas are on your property.    

If you want to have your contract signed over the winter in order to be ready to treat invasive plants when they first emerge in the Spring, then taking these steps now is important.  In many cases it will be helpful to develop the conservation plan before the plants go dormant later this year. Your NRCS District Conservationist will walk you through all the required steps.

Nelson, Albemarle
Kory Kirkland
Louisa Service Center
Charlie Ivins
Service Center
Greene, Madison, Rappahannock
Rex Rexrode
Service Center
Rockingham, Page
Cory Guilliams
Harrisonburg Service Center
Warren, Clarke

Brian Brezinski
Service Center

As part of this program the PRISM and the NRCS will make available to landowners a partial list of potential contractors who provide services related to invasive plant removal and restoration of native species. If you are qualified to do this work, have relevant experience and references, are properly certified, and would like to be added to the list, please forward your information to The PRISM will  offer a contractor training session on identifying and treating invasive plants between now and the end of the year.
The Blue Ridge PRISM is a collaboration of private landowners, conservation organizations, federal agencies, state agencies, local government entities, and companies involved with treating invasive plants.  Their mission is to reduce the impact of nonnative invasive plants in our 2.8 million acre, 10-county region. The Blue Ridge PRISM is a project of the Shenandoah National Park Trust, which is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and the fiscal sponsor of the Blue Ridge PRISM.
Membership is free and participation is open to the public. For more information, please visit To be added to our mailing list or to request additional information, please email  
Looking Back at Blandy
Remembering Blandy's Cook, Estelle Wallace

By Thom Flory
Note: Thom Flory is the son of the late Walter S. Flory Jr., 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 Arboretum in 1955.

Estelle "Esther" Wallace was the wonderful cook during the summer for the Blandy Quarters' Dining Room, a position she held from at least the late 1940s until the mid-1960s. During the remainder of the year, Esther provided household help to various families. She was at our house two days a week (except for summers) until we got an automatic washer and dryer in the early 1950s, and one day a week after that. My sister still uses Esther's recipe for (in our opinions) "the best rolls in the world."
Estelle Wallace and graduate student Mac Stiff, 1949.
Esther was a dignified black woman, and to me as a child she was a wonderful person. As an adult in the 21st Century, I have even more respect for Esther. Esther threaded the difficult line between dignity and survival, raising her nine (I think) children while helping other families raise their children. Esther was soft spoken, and would never consider correcting her employers. I was an adult before learning that her name was "Estelle," not Esther, but she never corrected us. I respect that her name is Estelle, but in my memories she will always be Esther.
The Blandy Quarters was rather quiet during the fall and winter. Only a few senior graduate students who had completed their course work and were finishing their dissertations were at Blandy during that period. However, during the summers the Quarters was a busy place with the Director (Dr. White until 1955, then Dr. Ralph Singleton) moving from Charlottesville along with a number of graduate students. During this busy period, the Quarters had collective dining for lunch and dinner with delicious meals cooked by Esther. Everyone who lived in the Quarters participated.
Most vegetables came from a one-acre garden located beyond the south-east corner of the Great Lawn. There was a hay storage barn just beyond the Great Lawn (it burned down about 1960 from spontaneous combustion of damp hay; there is still an old cracked cistern in the vicinity). Next to the barn was a tractor shed. The garden beyond was just south of what is now Wilkins Lane. This garden was shared between the Quarters Mess and my family. There was a large communal potato patch and four long rows of strawberries that we all gorged on during their short season, but the rest of the vegetables belonged to and were tended by either my family or the students. 

Esther did not have gardening responsibilities. New potatoes were pulled and enjoyed in the late summer, but in the fall retired work horse "Old Joe" was hitched and plowed up LOTS of potatoes (preparing the patch in the spring and fall potato plowing were his only jobs during the years that I can remember). The plowed potatoes were collected by my family and the students and transported to raised bins in the cellar of the old apple packing shed (now the Parkfield Learning Center). They were dusted with lime and would (mostly) last a year in the cool confines of the cellar. 

Working the field with "Old Joe."
By the time I was 7 or 8, one of my jobs was to take the empty five-gallon potato bucket from under my mother's kitchen counter to the packing shed, pry open the hinged hatch to the stairs under the floor (not easy at age 7), go down into the dank cellar, fill the bucket with potatoes (culling out rotten ones to be trashed), struggle back up the stairs (pretty much step by step in the early years), close the hatch and successfully return the filled potato bucket. I was proud of my contribution to dinner. By the next summer before new potatoes came in, the students and I would be rooting through a lot of smelly potatoes, but Esther and separately my mother turned the remains into terrific mashed potatoes. 

There were two Jersey milk cows kept in a field between the house now lived in by Building Superintendent Dennis Heflin and his family and the Route 50 woods; the milk from these cows was shared by people who lived at Blandy. My family got the morning milk from one cow with LOTS of cream, delivered warm from the cow before breakfast. The Quarters Mess also got plenty of milk and cream. Homemade butter and ice cream were wonderful! After 1955 there was an astounding bounty of corn from Dr. Singleton's hybridization experiments. I didn't eat corn for years after leaving the farm, because compared to the absolutely fresh (never more than 30 minutes from stalk to the table) nothing could compare.  Blandy was for the most part a no hunting area, but the groundhogs caused considerable damage to the Arboretum and were often dispatched. Sometimes these ended up in the Quarters Mess, but not even Esther could make them taste very good.
Fifteen minutes before meal time Esther would walk to the pole near the stone stairs at the south end of the original Quarters (now the old East wing) where a large bell was mounted. She would toll the bell so that people would know that good eats were on the way. Sometimes if I was hanging around she would let me ring the bell -- a thrill for a little kid. A second ringing of the bell meant that food was going on the table. I don't think Esther had any trouble getting people to show up in a timely manner for her great meals. On some special occasions my family was invited to join as guests.
I was always up for a "road trip" and often rode along as Esther was driven home from our house in the fall, winter and spring. In my earliest memories she lived in a house between White Post and Double Tollgate, close by the south side of the road. Before the 1950s this road was a quite hilly, not very good road, but in the early 1950s the portion of the road from Berryville to Double Tollgate was upgraded. This was when the White Post "by-pass" was built, rather than the main road making a 90 degree turn at THE White Post. The house that Esther lived in was demolished by progress on the road and Esther moved to the North-East side of the old Double Tollgate intersection. Recently my older sister Kathryn recalled that when she started driving Esther, despite repeated invitations to sit in the front seat, she always rode in the back. I kidded my sister that Esther wanted a chauffeur, but in reality Esther felt that custom required her to sit in the back by herself.
When my sister married in 1960, she wanted Esther to be there. Esther politely declined feeling that it would be inappropriate for her to be a guest. Eventually a compromise (such as it was) was reached; Esther attended the wedding sitting in the balcony of the church, and attended the reception as a server.
I lost track of Esther after my family moved from Blandy to North Carolina in 1963, but I never forgot her. I do genealogy research and recently set out to find what I could about Esther. Despite conflicting information for Estelle on the internet, I am convinced that she is the daughter of Giles Lavender & Ann Pierson, who were married in White Post 12 Sep 1869. Giles and Ann are listed as her parents on Estelle's 1923 marriage license.
In the 1920 Census Estelle Lavender was in Greenway District, Clarke County, a servant in the home of Joseph H. & Katie C. Funkhauser, and has two sons, Giles Lavender and Charles Lavender. Estelle had a daughter Louise about 1922 (my assumption, based on the 1930 Census). Estelle married Haywood Wallace 12 May 1923 in Berryville. Haywood is the son of Peter Wallace (Sept. 1850 - 16 Jan. 1928) & Sarah Jane Johnson (5 Jan. 1864 - 24 April 1971). Estelle has twin boys James and Joseph 16 Dec 1924, daughter Jane about 1927 and daughter Catherine in 1929. In 1930 Estelle, age 30, was in the Greenway District, Clarke County, Census, with her husband Haywood, a farm laborer, 36, (in actuality perhaps 29), and seven children: Giles 13, Charles 11, Louise 7, James 5, Joseph 5, Janie 2 and Catherine 7 months; all are listed with the surname Wallace. Both parents and children of school age are listed as able to read and write (but based on other records, I question whether this was true for Haywood). While I can find a 1940 Census for son Giles Lavender in Winchester, I have not found a 1940 Census record for Estelle or for Haywood, but I think Estelle had two more children after 1930.
Estelle M. Wallace (29 Dec. 1900 - 26 June 1985) is buried in Orrick Cemetery, located at 1301 S. Braddock Street in Winchester. Virginia did not issue birth certificates until 1912, so I don't know if the 29 Dec. 1900 date is accurate, but it is close (not exactly matching) to all other records for her. I have had the privilege of paying my respects at her grave site. She is flanked by one of her twin sons, James H. (Haywood) Wallace (16 Dec. 1924 - 30 Aug. 2006), almost at the north fence a few rows into the cemetery. Oldest son Giles Lavender (c.1917 - Aug. 1974) is buried on the south side of the Orrick Cemetery. Also buried in Orrick at a location I have yet to find is Wolford Wallace (18 Nov. 1934 - 15 Oct. 1996), who might also be a son. 
Esther was such a sweet person, and dearly loved by us kids. She lives on in my memory.