Newsletter of the Foundation of the State Arboretum                 Spring 2018
Watch for Your Garden Fair Preview Night Invitation Soon
FOSA members will receive an invitation, April 9, to join us for Garden Fair Preview Night Friday, May 11, from 5-7:30 p.m. 

Members enjoy first pick of Garden Fair plants at Preview Night, as well as music, refreshments, and free admission to Garden Fair all weekend long.

Preview Night admission is $28 per person in advance, or $38 after May 6 or at the door.  Reserve your Preview Night admission online anytime

For assistance call 540-837-1758 Ext. 224 Mon-Friday, 1-5 p.m. 

Spring Gardening Season Begins
The 2018 gardening season kicks off at the Arboretum beginning March 28. Shake off winter by joining us in the gardens!

No experience is necessary, and we'll provide tools. Come meet new friends, learn new skills, and put your expertise to work. You'll see why we say "We grow more than just plants!"

Join us in the gardens 9 a.m.-Noon. Here's the schedule:

Herb Garden, Tuesdays starting April 3
Native Plant Trail, Wednesdays starting March 28
Perennial Garden, Thursdays starting April 5

All dates are weather-dependent, so be sure to call to confirm that we're on schedule. 

For more information and to sign up as a volunteer, contact Koy Mislowsky, Volunteer Coordinator, at 540-837-1758 Ext. 246 or

Celebrate Arbor Day at Blandy April 27
Blandy's Remarkable Trees, FOSA Annual Meeting

FOSA's Arbor Day, Friday, April 27, celebrates our remarkable trees and our members. We've planned a full afternoon of special workshops and discussions, including FOSA's Annual Meeting. Bring family and friends and join us for hands-on workshops, a tree planting demonstration, a panel discussion, a brief business meeting, and a social hour.

Our first FOSA Member Spotlight will shine on guitarist and vocalist Bryan Stutzman from 6-7 p.m. during our social hour in the courtyard.

Workshops begin at 2 p.m. Can't be here that early? Don't worry, check the full schedule below and join us when you can. With sessions led by staff, FOSA board members, arborists, horticulturists, and other plant professionals, this will be a full afternoon of fun and learning.

Free to members and children under 12; nonmembers $15.
Register Online Reservations Required-Space is Limited. Workshops are outside, so dress for the weather.

Come join fellow treehuggers in a celebration of Blandy's remarkable trees! Watch for details on our website and Facebook page.

2-2:45  Native Trees for Your Backyard
3-3:45  Spring Pruning for Homeowners
4-4:45  Tree Planting in the Rain Garden
5-5:15  FOSA Annual Meeting & Outlook
5:15-6 Remarkable Trees Panel:  Jeff Kirwan, Virginia Tech,
co-author of  Remarkable Trees of Virginia; 
Cathy Mayes, The American Chestnut Foundation; 
Andy Jackson, Oak Spring Garden Foundation
6-7:00  Social hour with light refreshments and entertainment by Bryan Stutzman. Bring a picnic supper!
Be Good to Your Mother...
Bring Mom to Garden Fair!

Mother's Day Plant Sale is Always a Family Event

Virginia's best garden party returns for its 29th season as Garden Fair marks Mother's Day Weekend, May 12 & 13, from 9 to 4:30 both days.

Garden Fair is the Foundation of the State Arboretum's largest and most important annual fundraiser. Nearly 100 vendors will offer native plants, small trees, herbs, annuals, perennials, berry bushes, boxwood, and much more. Fine items for home and garden and several food booths will also be among the vendor lineup. 

FOSA members will  receive an email invitation to Preview Night, Friday, May 11, from 5-7:30 p.m.  (See details at left.)

Garden Fair proceeds support programs and events all year long. It's a great way to support your Arboretum and find some new additions for your garden and landscape.

Admission is $15 per carload, but you can save $5 by paying online in advance through the Foundation's  secure online payment site. Click on special event parking.
Early Birds Save $5
Click on Special Event Parking
Kids Become Scientists at Blandy Summer Camp
Summer Nature Camps are Just Around the Corner

By Steve Carroll
Director of Public Programs
You may feel like summer is a wishful winter fantasy, but registration for summer camp is already under way. Space is limited, so don't delay!
$110 FOSA members
$130 nonmembers

More than one child or camp:
$100 FOSA members
$120 nonmembers

Register by mail, with a credit card online at
our-foundation/ online_payments

For assistance call 
540-837-1758 Ext. 224
M-F 1-5 p.m.
Registration and prepayment required to hold space; no refunds after June 4.

Scholarships Available
Call 540-837-1758 Ext. 287 to inquire.

Once again, we will offer three amazing weeks of science activities, nature  
exploration, games, crafts, and an opportunity to learn from group leaders, undergraduate researchers, and university scientists! Our first two camps, for rising 2nd-4th graders, cater to our younger scientists. Our third camp, for rising 5th-8th graders, is more investigative.

Wildlife Detectives
June 25-27, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Rising 2nd-4th grade
In this three-day camp we will use all our senses as we search for mammals, birds, insects, and more. We'll discover where and how our animal residents live and spend their days using clues ranging from tracks in the mud to calls from the treetops. Get out your magnifying glass, tune up your senses, and prepare to unravel nature's mysteries.

Phenomenal Plants & Their Animals
July 9-13, 9 a.m.-Noon
Rising 2nd-4th grade
We are surrounded by plants that range in size from our tiniest mosses to towering trees. These are used by animals (including us!) for food, shelter, building materials, and more. We will explore the plant world in search of the many animals that eat, live in, and hide in them. Come explore with us!

July 16-20, 9 a.m.-Noon
Rising 5th-8th grade
Did you know Blandy is an ecological field research station? This means we have scientists in residence conducting field-based research. Join us this week to carry out your very own research project! Student scientists work in pairs under the guidance of our staff to identify a question, design a field experiment, and collect and analyze data. On Friday, our young scientists present their results to campers, Blandy staff, and family members.

Blandy's Summer Nature Camps offer a unique opportunity for kids to have fun while working side-by-side with teachers, university students, and scientists in a remarkable and beautiful setting.

See us on Facebook (search Blandy Summer and Winter Nature Camp) for photos, descriptions, and updates. Visit under "Programs & Events" for details and a link to the registration page. Space is limited, so register early. For camp details and information on scholarships call 540-837-1758 Ext. 287.
From Invasive Plants to Native Wildflowers
Spring Programs Include Favorites Plus a Few Surprises
Spring at Blandy has lots to offer: calling frogs, flowering trees, spring wildflowers, and lots more, and we build on this excitement in our ever-expanding series of public programs. We will offer long-time favorites such as full moon walks, guided walking meditation, and our annual trillium field trip. We'll also host workshops featuring plants we love (wildflower identification, air plant terrarium) and those we don't (invasive plant workshop); and programs new for us (Arbor Day celebration, City Nature Challenge).
We will also co-host the fourth Shenandoah Valley Science Café May 1 with the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum and Handley Regional Library. Science Cafes are informal, fun evenings involving a presentation, food and drink, and door prizes. Join us at Brewbaker's Restaurant, on Winchester's Loudoun Street pedestrian mall, to hear from Eric Kershner (Chief, Branch of Conservation, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service), who will present "Bird Conservation: Past, Present, Future."
Check out the spring schedule below and sign up now, several of our programs have limited space. For details, see the Spring programs brochure.
Spring Programs
Invasive Plant Identification and Management, Thursday, March 29, 1-5 p.m.
Full Moon Walk, Saturday, March 31, 7:30-8:30 p.m.
Make 'n Take Air Plant Terrarium, Saturday, April 7, 10-11:30 a.m.
Walking Tour of the Arboretum, Thursday, April 12, 1-2:30 p.m.
Wildflower Identification Workshop, Tuesday, April 17, Thursday, April 19, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
Remarkable Trees of Blandy: An Arbor Day Celebration, Friday, April 27, 2-7 p.m.
City Nature Challenge, Sunday, April 29, 1-3 p.m.
Science Café: Bird Conservation, Tuesday, May 1, 7-8:30 p.m.
Trillium Field Trip, Thursday, May 3 12:30-4 p.m.
Walking Tour of the Arboretum, Thursday, May 17, 1-2:30 p.m.
Mindfulness in Nature: Guided Walking Meditation, Monday, May 21, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Blandy Book Club, fourth Thursday of the month, 1-2 p.m.
Blandy Photo Club, first Tuesday of the month, 7 p.m.
Blandy Sketch Group, first Thursday of the month, 1 p.m.
See something you don't want to miss? Register now to guarantee your seat!

Chris Schmidt
A New Era Begins
Chris Schmidt Named New Arborist

Blandy's new arborist is a familiar face: Chris Schmidt was named to the position Jan. 22 after an extensive search and interviews with a series of candidates. Chris steps into the position left open after the 2017 retirement of Blandy's longest-serving employee, Bob Arnold.
As arborist, Chris will coordinate the care of the Arboretum's woody plant collection, including general collections care and maintenance, propagation, planting, and record-keeping. She will oversee a three-person crew that includes two landscape specialists and a grounds coordinator who maintain the overall appearance of the Arboretum.
"It is with great, great pleasure that I step into the arborist's position at Blandy," she said. "I am eager to move forward on the work Bob Arnold began."
Chris started working at Blandy in 2013 as an arboretum specialist. Prior to that, she was assistant retail manager for Fort Valley Nursery in Woodstock. She also held positions at the Winchester Agriculture Experiment Station and the Virginia Truck and Ornamentals Research Station in Virginia Beach, and taught plant identification at Tidewater Community College in Chesapeake.
"My primary goal is to continue the renovation and rejuvenation of the collections throughout the arboretum," she continued. "I will be responsible for the health of the plantings and I will need to be watchful of any changes, especially among the historical trees and shrubs. My long-term objective is to ensure that visitors to Blandy are made aware of the truly beautiful landscape and the unique and extensive plant collection we are so fortunate to have here. I am thrilled to have been given this wonderful opportunity."
Chris holds a masters degree in plant pathology from Virginia Tech, and earned her bachelor's degree in biology from St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY. She lives in Woodstock.

Stone Cottage Will Provide Housing, Meeting Space
Renovations Under Way to Update Kitchen, Bathrooms 
By David Carr
Director, Blandy Experimental Farm
The retirement of Bob Arnold late last year created vacancies in both the Arborist position and the Stone Cottage where Bob had lived for well over twenty years. Because he lived on site, Bob was able to respond to many urgent situations at Blandy, ranging from downed trees to snow removal. We will certainly miss having someone at the ready for these kinds of emergencies, but we decided that the cottage could serve other important needs as our programs continue to grow.

The Stone Cottage is located just east of the Quarters, about 150 yards down Dogwood Lane. The cottage is largely obscured by a high boxwood hedge and dense, tall evergreens, giving it an air of mystery. The building comes from two different eras. About half of the cottage is constructed from local limestone and dates to the mid-19th century. Based on old records, it may have served as a stable on the Tuleyries property. At some point in the early 20th century, the stable was converted into a dwelling. This included the construction of the brick section of the house that today includes the kitchen and dining room. In addition to those rooms, the floorplan of the Stone Cottage currently includes a living room, a small library, a large den, two upstairs bedrooms, and one and a half baths.

The Stone Cottage has had a number of long-term residents since 1927 when the University began programs at Blandy. When Blandy's first Director, Dr. Orland E. White, arrived, the Stone Cottage was occupied by the farm manager, Harry Antrim, and his family. Dr. Walter Flory and his family lived year-round in the house during his time as Vice Director in the 1950s and early 1960s. The Stone Cottage saw some renovations in the early 1970s before Tom Ewert and his family moved in during his time as manager of Blandy. Blandy's current Building Superintendent, Dennis Heflin, lived in the Stone Cottage before Bob Arnold moved in.

The new plan for the Stone Cottage is to create space for visiting researchers in the summer and multipurpose space for Blandy and FOSA activities the rest of the year. Even with last year's addition of two new cottages in Blandy's Research Village, we need more housing to meet demand. We can easily create a third bedroom in the house, to comfortably sleep as many as eight students. Our challenge will be eventually adding a second full bath. Meeting space has also become a premium at Blandy, and from September through April, a large dining room table, a living room, and a fully equipped kitchen will create new possibilities.

The first phase of the renovation will be complete in May. This will include refinishing the floors, a fresh coat of interior paint, new kitchen appliances, counter tops, and floor, new bathroom fixtures and floors, new furniture, and an internet connection. A second phase of renovation will include a new heating and cooling system and the addition of a second full bathroom. Completion of phase II will depend on the availability of funds.
A Pollinator with a Purpose
The Unusual Story of the Native Yucca and Its Moth

Photo: Ali Eminov
Yucca filamentosa
By T'ai Roulston
Two native Virginia plants are easily mistaken for escapees from a desert terrarium: the eastern prickly pear cactus, Opuntia humifusa, and Adam's needle, Yucca filamentosa. Both are drought-tolerant perennials whose protruding spines can pierce toes and bike tires. They declare themselves plants not to be messed with and remind one of any missteps made on that recent trip to Arizona, Utah or southern California. While our cactus is flat and unassuming, the yucca stands prominent in the landscape. In winter, it appears as a dense clump of evergreen swords stabbing out from an unseen stem. You will not take this castle, they seem to say. Look closely among the leaves and you will see long white fibers thick as twine; they lay twisted, barely attached, fluttering when the breeze comes. No, they are not the remains of a lost boy scout's undergarments that came unspooled as he fought his way from the yucca's clutches; they are fibers of the leaves themselves, slow to break down even as the leaf itself decays. These fibers are the 'filaments' of Yucca filamentosa, among the toughest of North American plant fibers; twisted together, they often formed the cords that bound Native American baskets.

Despite its prickliness, the yucca is a cherished cultivated plant. While the wild form is common in cultivation, you'll find foliage variants typical of plants bred for foliage: yellow-striped, yellow-margined and blue-tinted leaves. Such variation may be de rigueur for plant nurseries and foliage gardeners, but it is the floral display that makes the biggest impact visually. A flower stem emerges from the leaf cluster in late spring and grows to a height of 5-8 feet before bursting forth with hundreds of large white pendant flowers in early summer. It is quite a sight: If the spine-tipped leaves are the swords defending the castle, the flowers are the banners declaring open house. And what goes on in that house is quite remarkable.

Photo: James Madison University
Yucca moth

It is easy to overlook the remarkable story of yucca pollination. The flowers are not abuzz with bees. A quick glance reveals relatively little, ecologically speaking, but the yucca is one of very few cases of intentional pollination of plants by insects. Pollination of most plants is incidental to insects' drinking nectar or collecting pollen, moving to another flower, and accidentally leaving 
behind  pollen from the previous flower. The behavior of the insect is geared toward food, not toward pollination. 

But the yucca is different. Yucca filamentosa in our region has a single pollinator, the yucca moth Tegeticula yuccasella. The female yucca moth goes to the flower in order to lay eggs in the ovary. Her offspring develop by feeding on the developing seeds, and thus the yucca moth would seem to be parasitic on the flower. The more yucca moths, the fewer seeds, right? Actually, no. The flower produces more seeds than the yucca moth larvae can eat, and the only way that the seeds develop in the flower at all is if the yucca moth adult pollinates the flower. And so, the female yucca moth gathers pollen into a giant ball, flies into a yucca flower, oviposits into the ovary, and then actively pollinates the flower by pushing a mound of pollen onto the stigma. That pollen then grows down the stigma, fertilizes the ovules and causes seeds to form. 

What if the moth doesn't put enough pollen onto the stigma? The plant will abscise the flower, killing the moth larvae. What if the moth only puts pollen from the same plant onto the stigma ('self' pollen)? The plant will likely abscise that flower also. Thus, the quality of pollination is enforced by the plant, even though the moth seems to be the active participant. Does the moth farm the plant or does the plant control the moth? When the two participants are completely dependent of each other it is hard to tell. But you don't need an answer to appreciate it. When summer comes around and the giant yucca flower stalks burst with blooms, take a peak in the flower. You won't see a gloriously colored giant butterfly, but you may see a little drab moth with a cool story.