Q&A with MBG Board President, Carol Carter
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On July 1, Carol Carter began her tenure as President of the Board of Directors. She shares her thoughts and dreams for the Garden below.

Q) Why did you get involved with McIntire Botanical Garden? 
I first heard about the Garden through my local garden club.  I was intrigued because I love visiting botanical gardens and worked as a volunteer at the Birmingham Botanical Garden in Alabama for 15 years.  Public gardens bring people together, spark friendships over plants, and provide opportunities to learn about everything from soil health to garden design to trees…you name it.  I got involved because I truly believe it will forever improve the Charlottesville community to have this wonderful garden space.  
Q) What do you hope to accomplish during your tenure as President?
I’m impatient and I dream big, so I hope to accomplish half of what I hope to accomplish!    I want to see the number of folks enjoying walks on the site continue to grow exponentially.  We have really seen numbers increasing as Covid-19 has made us all crave outdoor time. I want to see our wonderful volunteers continue to grow as we improve the site and our organization.  I want to see our education programs grow, especially our collaboration with Charlottesville HS.  I’m determined to see a bridge across the stream, stream remediation, an open gate, some seating areas and some parking space on site. I’d like to see our first garden feature designed and ready to build. I want to see the whole community jump on board to make this Garden grow. And … I’d really love to see our first million-dollar donation! 
Q) What should the community know about MBG?
I am so excited about the name change because it will reflect a new spirit in this public space. Most people don’t realize that Paul McIntire never owned the land where the Garden site is.  The City purchased the garden piece in the early 70’s.  So it is fitting that as we begin to use it as a public garden, we give it the energy of a new name.
Everyone should know that even though we can’t usually park in the Garden site yet, it is easy to park on Melbourne Road and walk in.  We will be posting a trailmap on our website so come in and check it out.
Q) What do you love most about gardening? 
I love the way even a small space changes every day.  Plants grow bigger, they bloom, blooms fade, a butterfly comes along, it is never static.  There is always something to learn and to observe. It is crazy, but I also love the frustrations of gardening.  It gives gardeners who are generally such happy people something to complain about.
Q) What is your favorite flower or shrub?
My favorite is generally the one I am learning about.  I particularly like native trees and shrubs these days. In the Garden site, the giant elderberry (Sambucus) is my current favorite because we saved it from near death due to strangulation by vines, and now the pollinators and birds are feasting on it. It is a magnificent specimen.  New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus) is another current favorite.
Q) When not working with the Garden, what do you do with your spare time?  
Spare time, what a concept!
Species Spotlight:  The Blackhaw Viburnum
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It’s almost that time of year.... leaf peeping season! The Garden will be an array of hues and textures, so make sure you stop by for a visit in the next two months. There are so many colorful candidates to choose from in the Garden, but one superstar tree stands out for its beautiful foliage, habitat value, and general versatility. Viburnum prunifolium, or ‘blackhaw viburnum,’ is a member of the Caprifoliaceae family whose native range stretches from Texas up through New York. Standing about 12 to 15 feet tall by 6 to 12 feet wide, blackhaws can be found scattered throughout woodland stretches, established as ornamental plants, or even utilized in hedges.
The blackhaw can be a multi-stemmed shrub or single-stemmed tree, and its habit is typically a dense, rounded form composed of many twigs. Its leaves are ovate with subtly serrated edges, transitioning from shiny dark green in the summer to a vibrant mix of purple and red in the fall. As if its foliage isn’t striking enough, this viburnum also boasts large clusters of fragrant white flowers in mid-spring, followed by elegant blue-black berries in the autumn months. The young grey stem matures to a plated, almost black bark. This feature, coupled with its general resemblance to the hawthorn, is why Viburnum prunifolium has been lovingly dubbed the ‘blackhaw.’
The blackhaw is capable of thriving in most conditions, including sun or shade, urban or rural sites, and damp or dry soil. If you want to achieve the best fall color, however, place your blackhaw in full sun. Be careful not to mix up this viburnum with others; people frequently mistake the nannyberry viburnum for the blackhaw viburnum, although the blackhaw far surpasses the nannyberry in both autumn vibrancy and crown density. The blackhaw has been popular since its introduction in the 18th century, when its root bark was used medicinally by Native Americans. It is a star member of its ecosystem and provides food and refuge to butterflies, bees, moths, squirrels, and chipmunks, amongst others.  Whatever might draw you to the Garden, be sure to keep an eye out for the blackhaw’s brilliant foliage this autumn as you revel in your walk through the mosaic of trees.
Volunteer Spotlight - Stefan Bechtel 
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What inspired you to volunteer with MBG?
Like a lot of people, my first exposure was driving on John Warner Parkway and seeing the “Future Home of McIntire Botanical Garden” sign.  I thought “What is that?”  I love getting my hands in the earth and being surrounded by nature and wanted to learn how I could get involved.
How did you get involved?
I learned more about the efforts through a friend on the Board.  I’ve also learned through life that giving back to the community is so important and believe this Garden will bring solace and quietness of heart that being in nature can give.  Its location makes it easy for citizens to access a special garden place without leaving the City.  So I became an enthusiastic volunteer!
What type of work have you done?
I’ve volunteered on various workdays over the past 18 months.  So far a lot of the work has been beating back the invasive plants on the site.   We’ve been roughing out trails for access through the site and applying mulch from the chippers to define them.  Even this grunt work lifts the spirits.  I’ve also joined an elite team – who I understand have been nicknamed the Garden Guardians – who periodically patrol the site for stray litter and maintain the sign area.
What is your favorite thing about volunteering for MBG?
I’ve enjoyed meeting people of like mind with a common dream.  To see how far this Garden has come this year and think about where it will be next spring and then five springs from now is inspiring.  I’m glad to be able to participate in this Garden’s evolution.
How do you balance full time work commitments and volunteering for the Garden?
I share the philosophy that as one gets older, one should spend more time working to give the community something.  I feel more compelled to devote more of my time to things that will benefit other people…including those in future generations.
Fall Gardening Tips
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Although the days are growing shorter, gardens and gardening continue through the fall. In fact, some gardeners consider the fall the best time to plant trees and shrubs because it gives the soil time to settle through the winter, allowing for spaces to develop for air and moisture penetration before the spring growing season begins.  Below are some tips to consider:
The fall is an ideal time to plant Spring flowering bulbs.
Through the late Summer and into Fall, examine plants for pests and disease and take any necessary action. Continue to weed planting beds and water throughout the growing season. Every 2 – 3 years, it’s a good idea to take soil tests in your planting beds and amend the soil as needed.
Article ImageThe Fall is also an ideal time to re-mulch planting beds before Winter’s chill to a height of 2 -3 inches maximum, and be sure to leave at least that much room round the base or the trunk of the plant so no moisture is trapped against it (which can cause rot).
Identify and appropriately remove invasive plant species from your planting beds and woodland areas. This is especially important to do before they go to seed or fruit.
Before the killing frost sets in, dig tender summer bulbs for storage. Prepare and pot any plants to be wintered-over indoors and plan for any protection against winter winds now and install in November.
If you have an irrigation system, winterize it during the first week of November and check outdoor lighting to make sure it is in proper working order.
Article ImageFor lawn maintenance, fall is a good time of year to test the soil and fertilize grass areas as suggested by soil test results. If you have pets, consider using a pet-friendly fertilizer to avoid injury or accidental poisoning. Over-seed bare grass areas after loosening the surface soil and mulch seeded area with clean straw or the equivalent and water as needed. Once the new growth reaches 3 inches in height, it can be mowed as long as the grass keeps growing. In this part of the country, the last mowing of the year is usually around the first week in November.
Clean drains and gutters of leaves. Remove leaves from lawn areas where you want grass to thrive and don’t allow leaves raked to stay in piles on the lawn because this will prevent proper aeration and deteriorate the lawn. But do leave some piles of leaves under shrubs or trees or in areas where bees and other vital insects can build nests and feed during the cold winter months.
Day of Caring 2020 
The United Way Day of Caring in the Charlottesville area was established in 1992 by the United Way of Greater Charlottesville to promote the spirit and value of volunteerism, increase the awareness of local human service agencies and schools, and demonstrate what people working together for the community’s good can accomplish. Local nonprofits were encouraged to submit projects for volunteers to complete.
As our participation in the 2020 Day of Caring, MBG invited volunteers to come to the Garden to help clear trails, lay mulch and build bird boxes that would house screech owls and blue birds. (If you’d like to build your own bird boxes, we’ve included directions below.)
We were thrilled to welcome the team from ArkWise Wealth who braved the steamy end of summer weather to pitch in and get their hands dirty. ArkWise Wealth, formerly known as Barrett & Johnson, are previous supporters of MBG and were sponsors of the Ian Robertson Legacy Lectureship. We are deeply grateful to their continued and HANDS-ON support.
Fast Facts about Nesting Boxes 
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  • 26 types of birds will nest in these boxes, including Screech Owls, Bluebirds and many others. Squirrels may also winter-over in these boxes, but NOT to the detriment of birds
  • Screech Owls are small Owls, standing 7-10” with a wingspan of 18-24”
  • Screech Owls mate for life and return to the same box every year; they have one hatch per year of 2-6 eggs
  • These Owls are most active at night
  • These Nesting Boxes are made of white pine, so that they WILL deteriorate over time, likely 4-5 years. The reason for this is to limit the amount of insects and disease that can be harbored in more permanent boxes, thus creating a healthier environment for the Owls and other birds
  • These boxes cost about $10.00 each to make.
DIY Nesting Box 
Article ImageWant to build a nesting box like those hanging in the Garden?  It’s very easy, and with materials in hand, in 1-2 hours, you can be ready to hang one in a nearby tree. 
1 1”x 8” x 12’ white pine board
15 15/8” wood screws
2 ¼” lag bolts to attach to the tree
Screw driver
Jig saw
The box has 6 pieces: 
(2) sides 7 ½”x12”
(1) top 7 ½“x10”
(1) bottom 6”x 55/8
(1) back 6”x18”
(1) front 6”x10 ¾”
Directions (check photo for proper alignment):
  • Attach the floor to the back using 2 screws. Leave about 2 -3 inches on the bottom of the back to allow for room to attach to the tree.
  • Add the two sides using 6 screws to attach to the back and the floor.
  • Insert the front between the two sides and attach using 4 screws.
  • Add the top using 3 screws.
  • Using the jig saw, cut an opening in the front of the box. Be creative making the hole in the front. Birds are NOT picky about construction quality, hole size etc. But aim for a opening about 2 1/2” in diameter.
  • We hung ours with two ¼” lag bolts, one at the top and one at the bottom.  Aim to place it 6-8 feet off the ground facing any direction except north west. 
Good luck, have FUN and post pictures of your finished products on our Facebook page.
Please consider making a gift today to McIntire Botanical Garden and join your neighbors in establishing this compelling new community resource that will benefit our region for generations to come!

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Address postal inquiries to:
Botanical Garden of the Piedmont
PO Box 6224
Charlottesville, VA 22906