Arboretum continues nature education

The Garden Fair at Blandy Experimental Farm in Boyce will celebrate Mother’s Day weekend and usher in a host of programs at Blandy on its 30th year as the State Arboretum of Virginia.

Steven Carroll, director of public programs at Blandy, said visitors can expect to shop plants and gardening supplies from more than 80 vendors at the Garden Fair from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Children and families can participate in activities from 12 to 2 p.m., and admission will be $15 per car.

Late spring and summer programs will continue in Blandy’s tradition of nature education for ages “K through gray.” Carroll said the Firefly Festival in June, All About Dragonflies session in July and butterfly events in August will feature organisms of interest to the entire family.

Other educational sessions coming up this spring and summer will focus on the importance of bees, therapeutic herbs and plants, photography, writing and mosquito-borne diseases. Children rising to second through eighth grades can register to participate in three different summer nature camp sessions in June and July.

In honor of Blandy’s 30th year as a state arboretum, new and renewed memberships will be 30 percent off at the Garden Fair, ArborFest in October and at a special program in September.

On Sept. 18, author Kathryn Aalto will be giving a presentation for families on her book, “The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh,” which explores the real-life basis for the famous Hundred Acre Wood. Carroll said Blandy staff members are working on setting up a weekend full of events centered on the afternoon talk.

“We’re talking about having self-guided tours and backpacks that families can get from us and do a Winnie the Pooh experience using our property,” he said. “Probably on Sunday, we’ll do honey tastings…maybe build some little structures that simulate pieces from the stores – we’re still kind of putting that together. That weekend, we’ll try to do some things based around the books.”

Bob Lee, now president of the Foundation of the State Arboretum of Virginia, was part of the push to give Blandy its title in the ’80s. Friends of Blandy formed in 1984 and became the foundation after the arboretum was named in 1986.

“Thirty years ago, when I asked Delegate Andy Guest, a good friend of mine, to introduce a resolution or legislation to designate the Orland E. White Arboretum as the State Arboretum of Virginia, Andy Guest said, ‘Bob, I think I might do that, but first you’ve got to tell me what an ‘arboretum’ is,'” he said.

Lee said Guest was an intelligent Yale grad, but had simply never been introduced to the terminology before.

“Andy did sponsor the designation before the General Assembly; I think it passed unanimously,” he said. “Now, 30 years later, we’re very active and vital – (a) one of a kind facility for the Commonwealth of Virginia that attracts a tremendous number of gardeners, birders and other folks interested in the flora and fauna of Virginia.”



Where: Blandy Experimental Farm, 400 Blandy Farm Lane, Boyce.

• When: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

• What: The event includes arboretum tours, mini workshops, A bird walk and children’s activities.

• Admission: $15 per car or $12 online. Information: 540-837-1758 or www.blandy.virginia.edu.

• Information:  http://blandy.virginia.edu/public-programs

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com