Dear Friends of the Arboretum

Happy 2018! After a fall of so many transitions, it feels refreshing to start anew.

We welcome two new staff members, Morgan Paixao, PR/Marketing Specialist, and Rich Wood, Landscape Manager. They both came onboard with us in November and December at the end of last year, and we are so glad to have two new members on our team! When you stop in next, do please introduce yourself and help us welcome them aboard.

Morgan Paixao, PR/Marketing Specialist

Morgan is a JMU Geography and Fine Arts graduate (‘11), who is quick with creative ideas and understands natural resource systems. She has worked with a local native landscaping company and is familiar with many of the native plants commonly used in landscape plantings in the Mid-Atlantic. Additionally, she has worked for JMU and understands the focus on an educational mission and working with students. She is also co-owner of Meridian Books and Games, a Harrisonburg downtown book and game shop. She has many good ideas to move the Arboretum forward in regards to marketing/PR strategies and tools.

Rich Wood, Landscape Manager

Rich has had a long career in park, trail and natural resource management, environmental educational programming, and conservation of public parks and preserves. He has recently moved here from Pennsylvania. He is excited about contributing to the Arboretum’s mission and has a love of birds, native plants, outdoor photography and writing.

If you’ve not visited the Arboretum since last fall, please stop by and try out our new steps and railing leading to the pond! You’ll find it a much improved experience now allowing those with challenges negotiating steps to manage the drop to the pond with ease.

In case you missed the last airing of PBS’s Virginia Homegrown in October, you will enjoy seeing our beloved Arboretum and our floating gardens that were highlighted in their end-of-season episode. Our segment starts at minute 28:

As the forest, her creatures, and the gardens settle in a for a long winter’s nap, I invite you to come for a brisk walk and take in a “forest bath.” Envelop yourself in the stillness of the season.

Jan Sievers Mahon

Interested in Volunteering?

The Edith J. Carrier Arboretum, like any garden, is a work in progress and there is always something going on. Our volunteers are an important part of the crew that keep the Arboretum beautiful and growing, and there are plenty of opportunities to get involved. JMU students and organizations often volunteer here to fulfill course or service requirements, but other community members are also welcome.

When Jean Gerber moved back to Singer's Glen in 2015, she remembered the Arboretum and came to visit. She had always grown flowers and vegetables and loved being outdoors, and was looking for an opportunity to learn more. She joined a group of volunteers who were working in the herb garden on Tuesday mornings, and enjoys the camaraderie of working with like-minded individuals. Since then, she's logged over 300 volunteer hours and particularly enjoys learning to identify trees, helping in the greenhouse and nursery, and caring for plants destined for our annual plant sales.

Mark Briehl of Elkton signed up after reading an article in the paper about the stream restoration project, and learned that volunteers were needed to replant the stream margins. He has enjoyed gardening and landscaping in his own yard for 20 years, and saw this as an opportunity to learn more about plants and get more exercise. Mark came to a couple of volunteer workdays in the fall of 2015 and soon became a regular. He's also part of the Tuesday morning crew who now work throughout the Arboretum, and he has completed over 200 hours.

"It's the variety of work, the congeniality, and the opportunity to learn something new from both the staff and fellow volunteers that keeps me coming back," Mark says.

Whether you are an avid gardener, want to learn, or just like being outdoors, consider volunteering at the Arboretum. Visit our website to sign up, or call 540-568-3194.

Growing Ginger and Turmeric in Your Kitchen

Turmeric, Curcuma longa, and ginger, Zingiber officinale, are two powerhouse plant rhizomes (underground stems) that offer such a multitude of health benefits that it’s no wonder that immigrants to the U.S. from Asia and India brought along their ginger and turmeric roots with them. We’ve all experienced the sharp and spicy tang of ginger in sodas, candies, tea and waters, and as sushi condiments. And you’ve likely eaten turmeric (knowingly or not) in Asian dishes and Indian curries. Once you discover the myriad health benefits of both plants and the current ease of finding fresh roots in grocery stores, the reality of sprouting your own plants and growing them in your home becomes easily attainable. These fresh rhizomes or dried powders are most easily used in smoothies, teas, or in fresh waters to be consumed daily.

Ginger and turmeric are both ginger family members and tropical plants that like it warm, humid, and moist.

Medicinal benefits of plants:

  • anti-microbial (bacterial, viral and fungal)
  • effective against respiratory illnesses (flus, colds, etc.)
  • powerful cancer fighters (prostate, breast, skin, lung, cervical and colon)
  • powerful anti-inflammatories and pain killers (arthritis, gout, sore joints)

When you look at the additional benefits from each, ginger can lower cholesterol, reduces probability of stroke and heart disease, promote better digestion and metabolism of food, boost your immune system, reduce and reverse diabetes, help reduce symptoms of GERD and ulcers, and reduce gastrointestinal disorders, bloating and constipation. Turmeric is a natural liver detoxifier, aids in fat metabolism, promotes good skin health (wound healing, acne reduction, eczema, and psoriasis), and is a natural anti-histamine that helps fight allergies.

Ginger plants may be better suited to indoor growing because they are low-maintenance and can tolerate part-shade. Both plants take up to 10 months to mature, but can be harvested a little at a time at the edge of the pot while still growing after 3 to 4 months. Turmeric, once sprouted, likes full sun. The process for getting rhizomes started is the same for both roots:

  • Choose very fresh rhizomes and cut into sections with 2 to 3 buds or eyes, wash them well and soak them overnight in warm water.
  • Use containers that are small to start (4” pots or smaller). Try some clear clamshells (salad bar containers) to create a greenhouse effect, or even a small terrarium or glass jar that has a lid (and glass beads or gravel in base for drainage) that will keep the humidity high.
  • Fill the pot with rich, organic but well-draining potting soil.
  • Plant the eye buds facing up in the soil and cover with 1” to 2” of soil and water well.
  • If using a simple pot, cover it with a plastic bag to create the greenhouse effect and keep moisture in, or use a mister and spray daily. This is the slowest part of the process. Getting the buds to sprout may take 1 to 2 months.
  • Place the pot in a location where it stays warm (86 to 95 degrees is ideal) but shady. Keep moist but not soggy.
  • Once sprouted, move the turmeric plant to a sunny, but not dry, location. The ginger plant can stay put, if not too shady, or relocated to another part-shade location.
  • Continue to keep plants warm and moist throughout until the plants are actively growing. Don’t let them dry out.
  • Eventually, transplant them into larger, shallow and wide containers to allow for rhizome growth.

Enjoy fresh ginger and turmeric root at your fingertips all year long!

Turmeric growing in a pot (left) and ginger rhizomes with shoots and leaves (right).

Words from our Guest Book

We’re always thrilled when we have visitors from other states, and sometimes, even other countries! In 2017 we had visitors from afar as Canada, England and Germany!

“Wonderful! Thank you for having such a beautiful place!” — Manchester

“Beautiful way to spend the morning!” — Canada

“Love the birds!” — Georgia

“We keep coming back... wonderful!” — Pennsylvania

Upcoming Events

Valentine's Day Carriage Rides

Sunday, February 11, 1:00 - 4:00 pm

Wednesday, February 14, 4:00 - 7:00 pm

Give a "special someone" the memory of their lifetime! Create a celebration that goes beyond ordinary to exceptional. In a private luxurious vis-á-vis carriage, riders are drawn by beautiful horses with an experienced coachman. Call (540) 568 - 3194 to reserve.

Frances Litten Lecture: The Art of Growing Food

With Ellen Ecker Ogden

Tuesday, February 20, 7:00 - 8:30 pm

Festival Conference Center, Ballroom A

Ellen Ecker Ogden is an award-winning food and garden writer, and a kitchen garden designer who is known for her informative and fun-loving garden talks. Her kitchen garden designs combine artistic elements with classic garden design techniques that elevate a backyard vegetable garden into a European-inspired kitchen garden. Book and arboretum product sales after the lecture 8:30 - 9:00 pm. Free to the public, no registration needed. Free parking in JMU Festival lots.


Ellen Ecker Odgen Garden Design Workshop

Wednesday, February 21, 9:00 am - Noon

Frances Plecker Ed Center

Learn how to site the garden, or how to tweak what you already have for a garden. Take a look closer look at how to create a kitchen garden design that makes your garden more enjoyable. Plus, we’ll share ideas to learn from each other. Registration required.


Spring Children’s Art Workshop

Friday, February 23, Noon - 1:15 pm

Friday, March 16, 10:00 - 11:15 am

Friday, March 23, Noon - 1:15 pm

Friday, April 6, Noon - 1:15 pm

Frances Plecker Ed Center

Art instruction planned around a nature or botanical topic centered around "spring"; drawing, printmaking, sculpture, or photography followed by a short guided walk outdoors. Facilitated by JMU Art Education students. $10/child per class; $35/all four. Registration required.


Wings of Spring: Bird Migration Workshop

With Rich Wood

Wednesday, February 28, Noon - 1 pm

Frances Plecker Ed Center

Join us for one of the greatest shows on earth: the annual Spring Bird Migration! We’ll review the upcoming birding season, some of the highlight species seen this winter and some of the best spots to see these winged wonders at the Arboretum. Registration required.


Wonderwater Workshop

March, specific date TBA, Noon - 1 pm

Frances Plecker Ed Center

Take a peek into the microscopic world of aquatic bacteria! Be a child scientist for the day with JMU Biology professor Dr. Morgan Steffen, and collect and then examine water samples from the arboretum pond and stream. Elementary school age children will learn how to use a microscope to view and identify the bacteria that live in the water. Wear water friendly shoes or rain boots, and dress for the weather on the day of the workshop. This educational children's workshop is free. A parent or caregiver is welcome to attend with their child. Registration required.


The Nut School Workshop

With Bill Whipple

Friday, March 16, 1 - 4 pm

Frances Plecker Ed Center

Details TBA. Registration required


Wine & Cheese With Bill Whipple

Friday, March 16, 5 - 7 pm

Frances Plecker Ed Center

Hickory oil and acorn flour recipe ideas and tastings with presentation from Bill Whipple, orchardist and nut tree expert. Registration required.

(540) 568 - 3194

780 University Blvd, Harrisonburg, VA 22807

Visit us today! Grounds are open free to the public, dawn to dusk, 365 days a year.

The Frances Plecker Ed Center is open Monday - Friday 8:00 am - 4:00 pm.

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