N° 185 — February 7, 2024

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

From the Field: American Holly

How well do you know the American holly (Ilex opaca)? The National Arboretum has one of the largest and oldest collections of American holly cultivars found anywhere. Many of these trees are found in the Holly and Magnolia Collection.

American holly populations were seriously threatened during the late 19th and early 20th centuries due to a high demand for living holiday decorations. Read a past article from Arbor Friends to learn more about the National Arboretum's role in conserving American holly and cultivating it for landscape use.

Read American Holly: An Overlooked National Treasure >

Plant Spotlight

True to its name, the holly ‘Sunny Foster’ grows bright yellow leaves in full sun conditions, providing an ever-present golden splash to the garden. Ilex x attenuata ‘Sunny Foster’ is a naturally-occurring hybrid of two holly species native to the southern United States (I. cassine and I. opaca) that grows slowly but can get to about 30 feet tall. ‘Sunny Foster’ was a variegated sport of Ilex x attenuata ‘Foster No.2,’ a plant common in the trade for its conical shape, red fruit and attractive gray bark.

Yellow-leaved ‘Sunny Foster’ was introduced by the National Arboretum in 1982 after 18 years of cultivation and evaluation. Use it as an accent or specimen plant in a sunny spot in your yard. Find ‘Sunny Foster’ at the eastern end of the National Herb Garden or in the Holly and Magnolia Collections.

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.

Giving Flowers a Second Life

Kaifa Anderson-Hall gives flowers donated from events across DC a second life. Her nonprofit, Plants and Blooms Reimagined, organizes horticultural therapy activities for vulnerable communities in DC. These flowers become a tool for reflection and connection between internal growth and growth in the natural world.

Kaifa grew up visiting the Washington Youth Garden as a student, and later became the Program Director of WYG. Learn more about her work in a recent article from Hill Rag.

Read Plants and Blooms >

Photo via Hill Rag

Spring Flowers

Snowdrops (Galanthus spp.) are starting to pop up around the Arboretum, which means other spring flowers are not far behind. These plants get their names from the white flowers that hang like pendants from vibrant green stems.

Snowdrops are perennials, and grow from small bulbs underground. There are about 20 species of Galanthus, and are native to the woods and alpine grasslands of southern Europe and Asia.

Learn More About Snowdrops >

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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