Winter 20'-21' EJC Arboretum

Dear Friends of the Arboretum,

This year we're starting things off a little different - instead of our Director, Jan Sievers Mahon, writing you, you are hearing from Morgan Paixao - the Arboretum's PR & Marketing Specialist. Normally, I do the behind-the-scenes work with the newsletter, so it's nice to say an official 'hello' and wish you all a happy and hopeful new year!

While our 2020 in-person programming was dramatically decreased due to COVID-19 precautions, we did see that throughout the year there was an increase in overall visitorship! It was wonderful to see you using the Arboretum for walks, meeting safely with friends and family, and joyfully observing the seasonal rhythms of the natural world. We know that in times of great stress and uncertainty, nature can provide an incredibly grounding space for stillness and reflection and so, it feels fitting to share our 2021 theme with you as:

We are looking forward to continuing to serve you, our community, both through the Arboretum's physical space, an increase in virtual educational offerings and additional outdoor (limited capacity) wellness programs throughout the spring semester.

Despite the chilly December temperatures, we had a great group of enthusiastic Festive Greens makers create natural door hangings for the season.

Over the past few months, the Arboretum staff, volunteers, and other members of our community participated in a series of workshops covering diversity and inclusion. In 2021 we will continue this work and invite those who are interested in becoming involved to please reach out. You can email myself, Morgan Paixao (paixaomf@jmu.edu) directly.

To learn more about the topics we've been discussing and gain a greater understanding of the broader conversation public gardens are engaging in, we encourage you to tune in on Wednesday, February 24th from 6 PM - 7:30 PM for a discussion with Carolyn Finney, author of 'Black Faces, White Spaces', collaboratively co-hosted by Cornell Botanic Gardens, Ithaca Children’s Garden The Learning Farm and USFWS.

"Christian Cooper. George Floyd. Removal of Confederate Statues. Renaming of institutions. Reparations. Systemic Racism. John Muir? What does "environment" have to do with it? How do we meet this moment?

Drawing from her book, her relationships “in the field”, her lived experience, and this moment of reckoning, Carolyn explores the complexities and contradictions of American history as it relates to green space, race, and the power to shape the places we live in our own image.

By engaging in “green” conversations with black people from around the country, Carolyn considers the power of resistance and resilience in the emergence of creative responses to environmental and social challenges in our cities and beyond."

Looking forward to what 2021 will bring,


Morgan Paixao, PR & Marketing Specialist

A New Guilty Pleasure?

Kristen Grimshaw | Education Coordinator

Admittedly, it feels a little escapist, but my current guilty pleasure is watching the Cornell FeederWatch Cam.

I get a flitter of excitement seeing the two-dimensional birds swing into the camera’s view. It’s intimate; it feels as though I am getting a closer look at these birds than I should be. It’s exhilarating! Yes, it would be more magical if I were experiencing these birds first hand, but it is a fun cheat-code to be able to tune into the happenings of these birds whenever I want. They have become acquaintances, and when I open up their live stream I feel like I am catching up with them as I would a close friend.

If you wanted to take this virtual bird gazing a step further, why not open up a bird ID field guide or your favorite bird ID app (we like the Merlin Bird ID app!) and try identifying some of the unfamiliar feathered friends that happen across the screen. One significant benefit to virtual bird watching is that you can pause and rewind the video stream, so if you see a new-to-you bird, you can pause the video to get a better look at your new friend, which might help you get a more accurate ID!

We hope you enjoy using the Cornell FeederWatch Cam as much as we do! We like to watch the birds at the Cornell feeders, but they also have live videos of feeder sites all across the world. It is a nice treat to start your morning, break up your workday, or just slow down from all the hustle and bustle. Happy birding!

Mark your calendar!

Frances Litten Botanical Lecture

A Virtual Learning Experience for 2021!

Monday (2/22) - Sunday (2/28)

This year we will be running the Frances Litten Botanical Lecture as a Virtual Learning Experience all about pollinators for the entire week of Feb. 22 - Feb. 28. Stay tuned for more information coming your way!

The Importance of Growing Habitats

We are big proponents of growing native plants here at the Arboretum, that's no surprise! The benefits they bring to our pollinators, birds, and other wildlife are unmatched by introduced species. However, we'd like to shed some light on the whole picture and the importance of not just adding a native plant here or there to your garden, but actually creating a cohesive habitat of native plants.

It all comes down to supporting the insects and animals that are attracted to native plants. Attraction alone is not sustainable, and thus, a garden needs the strength of a whole system to support the wildlife it is attracting.

How to Help

1. Do your research! Learn what different types of plants naturally live together in a given ecosystem. Do you have a sunny plot? Discovery the multitude of perennials and grasses that come together as a native meadow. Diversity is key to a garden or habitat's strength! Yes the showy blooms are beautiful, but the not so showy ones are just as important.

10 Things to Get You Started by Doug Tallamy

Native Plant Finder

2. Purchasing plants - The Arboretum provides native plants and cultivars throughout the growing season (April - Oct). In addition to our upcoming spring plant sales, we'll continue to offer online ordering as well. The Natural Garden is another great resource within the Harrisonburg area that provides a variety of native plants for purchase. If you don't live in the Shenandoah Valley area, check with local nurseries to see if they offer native plants. Big box stores like Lowes or Home Depot are least likely to sell native plants specific to your area.

3. Maintenance - Staying on top of weeding out invasive plants is very important. Invasive plants tend to be aggressive and will take over an area quickly if you aren't careful!

12 Essential Gardening Tools for the Beginner (Garden Design)

Become a part of the Homegrown National Park movement! A grassroots call-to-action for planting habitats and restoring biodiversity through native plants!

Kind Words

Excelente lugar para caminar explorar. ~ Isabela

This place is so gorgeous. My current relationship started here so this place is dear to my heart. 💜 anytime I'm in town (live in waynesboro) with friends I always ask them if they've been here & take them if they haven't. Perfect for a peaceful walk through the trails and to get out of the house and enjoy beautiful scenery. Highly recommend taking the time to stop here if you've never been 💓 ~ Hailey

Thank you - such a treasure to find & visit! ~ The Gardners

Gift Shop Goodies

Frances Plecker Education Center

Monday - Friday | 8 AM - 4 PM

Did you know we have a gift shop at the FPEC? Stop by the during the week to pick out a new houseplant, mug, shirt, and many other gifts we have available!


Frances Litten Botanical Lecture: A Virtual Learning Experience

Feb 22 - Feb 28

Details to Follow


Spring Garden Talk Series (Virtual)

Bird Gardens | Date TBD

Herb Gardens | Date TBD

Pollinator Gardens | Date TBD