N° 182 — January 17, 2024

Enjoy regular updates and insights from FONA, the U.S. National Arboretum, and our award-winning Washington Youth Garden.

In Memoriam: Dick Hammerschlag

We are saddened to share the news that Dick Hammerschlag, a long-time National Arboretum and FONA volunteer, passed away on December 28th, 2023.

Dick was a kind, thoughtful person who dedicated his life to plants and ecology. He shared this passion with others through his professional life as a biologist in the National Park Service’s Center for Urban Ecology and at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center before retiring in 2007.

Dick continued to share his knowledge and passion for ecology during retirement through volunteer service. Dick and his wife began volunteering at the National Arboretum in 2007. During his 16 years as an Arboretum volunteer, Dick contributed about 1,800 hours of his time in multiple collections. While Dick primarily worked in the Visitor Center aquatics pond and the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum, he also helped in the Introduction Garden and the Gotelli Conifer Collection. Dick also volunteered with FONA as a long-standing spring Garden Fair & Plant Sale committee member and helped remove invasive species during the restoration of Springhouse Run.

He will be missed dearly by all in the U.S. National Arboretum community.

Read Dick Hammerschlag’s Obituary >

Coffee in the Garden

Have you ever tried growing coffee in the mid-Atlantic? It can be done in your own backyard! Our Garden Team has been growing a coffee tree (Coffea arabica) in the Washington Youth Garden for the past four years. This is the second year this tree has fruited (see adjacent photo). the fruit, also known as coffee cherries, is processed to remove the outer shells and expose the coffee beans.

The Washington Youth Garden's coffee tree grows in the shade of a pawpaw tree from spring through fall before coming indoors for the winter. Garden Co-Manager Xavier Bure Quiano noted the trick for growing them in WYG has been a balance of nutrients from fertilizer and compost, a lot of water, and patience.

Growing coffee in WYG was a natural step for Xavier, since he also grows coffee and cocoa on a farm in Peru. In a past Digging In, Xavier shared how his experience farming in Peru informs his approach to farming in the Washington Youth Garden.

Watch Digging In: Connecting through Cocoa and Coffee >

5K Early Bird Prices Ending Soon

Lock in early bird prices for FONA's Flowering 5K before they increase! Run or walk past garden collections and soak in spring at the Arboretum during the race on Sunday, March 24th. We anticipate cherry blossoms, magnolias, and more will be blooming during this race.

Registration costs $40 until 11:59 PM on Sunday, January 21st (FONA members, use your discount code). Race t-shirts are guaranteed with Early Bird and Regular Registration. Registration is free for children ages 0 to 12. All roads are closed to cars during this race so you can safely participate in this event.

Register for the Flowering 5K >

Photo by Beth Haubach

Join FONA's Team

We are looking for people to join our growing team! We are currently accepting applications for the following full-time positions:

Volunteer Coordinator & Garden Educator >

This full-time permanent position will support FONA's volunteer efforts and youth programs at our Washington Youth Garden. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis, apply no later than February 1, 2024.

School Garden Support Educator >

This full-time year-long position will support the School Garden Support team's work in DC partner schools. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis, apply no later than February 5, 2024.

Plant Spotlight

In the monochrome of winter, Ilex ‘Sparkleberry’ brings color and cheer into the world with its abundant red berries. ‘Sparkleberry’ is an Arboretum introduction, a cross between the native Ilex verticillata (Winterberry) and the Japanese Ilex serrata, resulting in an ornamental plant that is tolerant of wet soil. If planted near its male counterpart ‘Apollo,’ its relatively large fruit will develop in the fall and will stay on the plant throughout the winter, providing food for birds and other small animals during a time where there isn’t much else to eat. Visit the Azalea Collections or the Introduction Garden this winter and enjoy the display of the hybrid winterberry.

Kamala Codrington-White, an ORISE fellow at the National Arboretum, shares plants of note at the Arboretum in this new recurring segment. Find these plants on your next trip to the Arboretum this fall. Photo by the U.S. National Arboretum.

Upcoming Events

Native Plant Sale

Saturday, March 23

Local native plant vendors

Save the date — details to come

37th Annual Lahr Native Plant Symposium

Saturday, March 23

Native plant symposium hosted by the National Arboretum

Save the date — details to come

Spring into School Gardening

Saturday, March 23

Free resources for educators, in WYG

Save the date — details to come

Flowering 5K

Sunday, March 24

Run or walk through collections in bloom

(Members use your discount code)

Details & Registration >

Garden Fair & Plant Sale

Saturday, April 27

Plants, vendors, and activities

Save the date — details to come

The Arboretum is open every day from 8 AM to 5 PM except December 25th.

Check Our Website for Full Details >

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Friends of the National Arboretum
3501 New York Ave NE
Washington, DC 20002
FONA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit membership organization with the mission to preserve and enhance a vibrant public space and support experiential programming that instills a love of plants, nature and the outdoors in all who visit, while promoting the overarching research and education mission of the U.S. National Arboretum.

Since its inception, FONA has helped support the Washington Youth Garden, Capitol Columns, Flowering Tree Walk, horticultural and research internships, restoration of Springhouse Run, and much more.

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