Winter 2020

Dear Friends of the Arboretum,

Happy 2020 to everyone!

Winter-like weather has finally arrived and when you walk through the woods and gardens here the season of stillness, contemplation, and rest is very much present. It's a great season for quiet walks amongst the sleeping trees with nearby active and hibernating animals of the forest quietly present along with you.

Crawl Log feature in the Soil Builders Garden

Earlier in January Arboretum staff, some friends of the Arboretum, and our design team commenced with the design process for our Family Garden, At Home in the Woods. We recently collaborated with our first garden charrette of 2020. It is an exciting process to be able to embark on the next steps after having conceived of this garden many years ago. We will now be able to install all of the Little Legs Loop of the Family Garden, designed for young learners, and learners young-at-heart to explore and play in a well-designed outdoor woodland space. In addition to the garden, we plan to install bathrooms at the Pavilion and build an ADA (fully accessible) ramp from the upper parking lot down to the pond so that people of all abilities, who park in our Pavilion lot, can access and enjoy the pond area when visiting the Arboretum.

In 2020 the Arboretum has the good fortune of providing overflow parking in the R-5 Lot accessed above the two Arboretum entrances at the top of the hill. Though there are designated spaces there for Arboretum visitors, any of the spaces there are available for parking dawn to dusk if you are visiting the Arboretum. Look for signs along Univ. Blvd. directing you there, especially when both Arboretum lots are full. Look for the top corner Arboretum entrance trail that will lead you down the hill from the parking lot into the Arboretum.

Earth Day 2020 is April 22nd

This spring marks the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day on April 22nd. The worldwide focus across the planet is particularly crucial when so many of the earth’s ecosystems are threatened and undergoing significant decline. This year’s theme is climate action. There are a whole host of locally and regional activities and events, while national and international initiatives are underway as well. Here in the Arboretum we plan to focus on pollinators as our theme for both Earth Day celebrations and for the year. Get involved and come out to celebrate our Mother Earth! See article below.

Warm Regards,

Jan Sievers Mahon, Arboretum Director

Emerald Ash Borer VA Update

Emerald Ash Borer Tunnels

You’ve probably heard of or seen by now some of the drastic and significant impacts the Emerald Ash Borer is having on our state and region’s ash trees. All of Virginia’s native ash trees are currently on the list of Critically Endangered species, determined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. And the state of Virginia has been under quarantine since 2012 to help control the spread of this insect pest. Though beautiful with its sparkling, iridescent-green body the larvae of this wood borer from Asia can devastate and kill stands of ash trees in a matter of a few years. Did you know that many cities and towns in VA are losing 5-10% of their tree canopy due to the ash trees being bored in to by this invasive beetle? Here in Harrisonburg the city has removed 350 ash trees from public places in the past two years; while working hard to save 36 ash trees that have a chance, with treatment, for long-term survival ('Ashes to Ashes' by Kyle Kirby, The Citizen). Here in the Arboretum we are treating one large specimen green Ash. Most of the ash trees here are small trees and saplings.

What you may not know is that if you have large ash trees in your yard and meet the minimum requirements (12” diameter minimum tree size, 70% live crown rating with larger trees receiving priority), the Virginia Dept. of Forestry may be able to cost-share (up to 50%), the charge for treating your tree with insecticide injections to save it. The VDOF’s budgets are cut 33% this year, so it will screen applicants on a first-come, first serve basis. The new application form isn’t yet available on their website (coming in March with a springtime deadline). See the 2019 link below to find out more.

14th Annual Frances Litten Botanical Lecture

The Mycobiome of the Garden | Author, Eugenia Bone

Tuesday, February 25th | Reception 6 - 7 PM | Lecture 7 - 8:30 PM

Festival Conference & Student Center Ballroom | Free and Open to the Public

Join us for our 14th Annual Frances Litten Botanical Lecture! This year our reception and book signing will be open to the public. Eugenia Bone's book, Mycophilia, Revelations from the Weird World of Mushrooms will be available for purchase and signing. Light refreshments provided.

Most gardeners know about fungi for their destructive roles as plant pathogens or as edibles, but many more species are key to the well-being of gardens. The Mycobiome of the Garden is an illustrated talk that focuses on the helpful fungi. This talk describes the roles fungi play in plant life and why they are so important to plant and soil microbiomes, and subsequently, our food supply.

Eugenia Bone is a nationally known nature and food writer and author. Her work has appeared in many magazines and newspapers, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Saveur, Food & Wine, and Gourmet. Eugenia is the author of six books including Mycophilia: Revelations from the Weird World of Mushrooms, which was on Amazon’s best science books of 2011 list and nominated for a Council on Botanical and Horticultural Libraries award. Eugenia is featured in the documentary Fantastic Fungi (2019) directed by Louie Schwartzberg, and a contributor to the companion book.

Earth Day Turns 50!

USPS Earth Day Forever Stamp ('Forever' will not be crossed out on physical stamps.)

Every day is Earth Day here in the Arboretum! Truly, this woodland sanctuary that provides evolving habitats, sustains healthy tree canopies, and harbors shelter for an island of creatures (who may not have anywhere else to live at this point), has been problem-solving the increased pressures pushing against it as it continually provides for a forest of life. This small forest ecosystem is home to much seen, and unseen life.

The Arboretum’s mission from the human perspective is to educate others about the natural world and inspire outdoor engagement in this woodland sanctuary. Nature’s mission is to provide life via the many ecosystem services that are provided through intelligent collaborations unfolding throughout each season. Whether you come to the Arboretum for discovery, or to find a place of respite, please know that those of us who protect and steward this property care deeply about the environment, here and beyond. We believe that we can implement sustainable change through our actions, individually, organizationally, and through community initiatives.

First Earth Day April 22nd, 1970

Earth Day began on April 22nd, 1970. This year individuals, communities, and organizations are mobilizing and partnering around the world to celebrate Earth Day’s 50th Anniversary. The mission to raise awareness and inspire involvement with local and planet-wide initiatives is vital in 2020 and in moving forward into the future. This juncture in the history of the planet is a crucial crossroads of human misadventure and the natural world calling us on us to take action, and wake-up to the state of the earth and her increasingly pivotal needs. The global environmental issues facing the human race, all of earth’s species, and the planet’s ecosystems require many more of us to be willing to change our habits and practices with regard in how we choose to live on this earth and wisely utilize her resources.

The umbrella Earth Day organization has many campaigns underway. See which initiative calls to you below and consider getting involved with it locally. Both the valley and central VA have Arboretum Day Committees who meet regularly with plans in progress.


  • EARTHRISE, an intergenerational global movement for climate action that will mobilize around the world on April 22, 2020. 50 years ago, millions took to the streets for the first-ever Earth Day and fought successfully for the future of our planet. In 2020, let’s do it again. This global call for climate action needs everyone. Host a mobilization in your city and register today.
  • The Great Global Cleanup, a worldwide campaign to remove billions of pieces of trash from neighborhoods, beaches, rivers, lakes, trails, and parks — reducing waste and plastic pollution, improving habitats, and preventing harm to wildlife and humans.
  • Earth Challenge, the largest-ever global citizen science initiative, which will arm everyday individuals with the tools they need to report on the health and wellbeing of the environment, from their drinking water, to their air quality, to the species around them. Become a citizen scientist through this arm of Earthday.org.
  • Foodprints for the Future, a collaboration with individuals, communities, and partners across all sectors to address one of the largest contributors to climate change facing us today: our food system
  • Artists for the Earth, a global campaign bringing artists from around the world in every discipline, using the power of their art to express our common humanity. Artists for the Earth is a global campaign to connect with arts organizations and artists everywhere in order to engage the public with the critical issues of the environment. Art has the power to reach people personally, establishing a deeper understanding and emotional connection with what is happening to our planet. By supporting the community that art creates, Artists for the Earth will help build consensus, the will to effect change and the inspiration to act to protect the Earth.
  • Find an Earth Day event near you (scroll down a bit to see the awesome Global map) – this is where all of your events will show up as well.
  • Shared Shenandoah Valley Earth Day Calendar. Look for Arboretum events here.
  • Arboretum Wildflower Walk (4/22) 10 AM - 11 AM  - Discover the spring wildflowers of the Arboretum with director, Jan Sievers Mahon.


Lovely, lively, peaceful, wonderful... Walk is wonderful in autumn and winter absolute peace. ~ Aamir

Beautiful park, a real gem for Harrisonburg. ~ Greg

My favorite walk in the woods! Beautifully maintained. A great place to walk the dog, take photos, see wildlife, and get some exercise. ~ Laura

Arboretum Weddings

We had an absolutely gorgeous year of weddings in 2019! From ceremonies by the pond to full receptions on the terrace. Each of our brides and grooms were an absolute joy to work with. Take a look at some of the beauty that was captured here over the course of the wedding season!

Interested in learning more about hosting a wedding at the Arboretum? Check out our weddings page on the website!

Katie Lea Photography
Tylar Brooke Photography
Carley Rehberg Photography

Submit To Our Photo Contest!

December winner, Alicia Wilmes capturing our Chinese Paper Bush by the Frances Plecker Education Center!

To submit to our monthly photo contest, message us on Facebook with your entries. Photos must be high resolution and taken within the current month, up to 3 submissions



Wondercraft: Valentine's Day Edition

Saturday, February 8 | 10 AM - 11:30 AM

Recommended Ages (5 - 10) | Free, Advanced Registration Required

Children explore creativity in the forest with JMU Art Education Students! We'll create nature inspired valentines and art that can be gifted to a special someone! This creativity-focused, educational children's workshop is free! A parent or caregiver is welcome to attend with their child. Meet at the Frances Plecker Education Center.


Spring Lecture Series:

Coordinating Plants For Your Garden

Wednesdays (2/12, 3/25, 4/15) | 12 – 1 PM

$12/Lecture or $35 for series

$35 Lecture Series Package – Includes a new membership or renewal of existing!

February 12th | Woodland Wildflower Gardens | Jan Sievers Mahon, Arboretum Director

March 25th | Bird Gardens | Rich Wood, Landscape Manager

April 15th | Pollinator Gardens | Dr. Amy Goodall, Associate Professor, Geographic Science

Have you been curious about the many plant species the Arboretum offers at our annual sales? And how they can all come together cohesively in your garden? Join us for a special lecture series February – April focusing on woodland wildflower, bird, and pollinator gardens! Attendees will be given informational plant lists and a 20% off coupon valid for either of our spring plant sales.


Frances Litten Botanical Lecture

The Mycobiome of the Garden | Author, Eugenia Bone

Tuesday, February 25th | Festival Conference & Student Center Ballroom | Free Event

Reception + Book Signing (Open to the public) | 6 PM - 7 PM

Lecture | 7 - 8:30 PM

Join us for our 14th Annual Frances Litten Botanical Lecture! This year our reception and book signing will be open to the public. Light refreshments provided. Most gardeners know about fungi for their destructive roles as plant pathogens, but many more species are key to the well-being of gardens. The Mycobiome of the Garden, is an illustrated talk that focuses on the helpful fungi. The talk describes the roles fungi play in plant life and why they are so important to plant and soil microbiomes, and subsequently, our food supply.


Winter Tree ID Walk

**A Member-Only Event**

Thursday, March 5th | 2 PM - 3:30 PM | Free, advanced registration required

Take a walk through the peaceful winter woods with Arboretum Director, Jan Sievers Mahon to learn techniques in identifying tree species at this time of the year! Open to Friends of the Arboretum members. Meet at the Frances Plecker Education Center.


Greener Than Grass: A Sustainable Landscaping Workshop

Presented by Sustainability Matters

Saturday, March 21 | 9 AM - 12 PM | $30/Registration

Turf grass is America's #1 "crop"...yet has no ecological value whatsoever. Learn to landscape more sustainably, replacing your grass with no-mow alternatives that offer food and beauty to pollinators, wildlife, you, and your family. Light refreshments will be provided. Advanced registration required, meet at the Frances Plecker Education Center.