Joseph J. O’Donnell’s “My Virginia: State Arboretum of Virginia”

walk-way     The Commonwealth of Virginia offers a variety of exciting and interesting places to visit. It also offers some historical, educational, and natural wonders to explore.

In some of my last articles I had introduced The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, Aldie Mill, and back trail hiking among some other interesting places to visit. One of the best hidden treasures is the State Arboretum of Virginia located near Boyce Virginia just off of Rte. 50 in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The location itself is beautiful with a panoramic view of the Shenandoah Valley a short distance away.

The Arboretum offers several walking trails if you are in a mood for a short hike and wildflower walks for your visual pleasure. The entrance from Rte. 50 leaves you off at a large brick structure which houses an old estate. Many weddings are also held here due to the pleasant surroundings that the site offers. There are also a number of ponds and gentle rolling hills giving a tranquil feeling to all the visitors.

The Arboretum also offers programs and group tours, and teachers and students are welcome to explore its natural surroundings. School programs are available during the academic year on a variety of topics such as flower studies, seed dispersal, and plant/animal habitats.

There is also a herb garden and greenhouse that offers a sensory experience. The Blandy Experimental Farm is also located on the site and is overseen by the University of Virginia. They offer Summer Nature Camps for young students. You can see more about this on their Facebook site at blandy,virginia.edu . The students can work with the university’s scientists in programs such as: Lost and Found: Natural Mysteries; Eagle Eyes & Dragonflies; and EcoExplorers.

We met a volunteer guide, William Spinard, Jr. who gave us much insight into the park’s beginning as well as some of the site’s outstanding trails. Upon our visit we also saw a number of photographers filming the gardens and bird nesting habitats that range throughout the park. There is also a small shop there where you can buy herbs and memorabilia run by Suzanne Busch.

We highly recommend a visit to the 712 acre Arboretum and Experimental Farm by all our readers. You can find more info on their website at www.blandy.virginia.edu or call (540) 837-1758.

JOD/TAEM

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