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We’re Changing Our Name  
 
The name McIntire Botanical Garden was chosen nearly a decade ago, reflecting the Garden’s location in McIntire Park. Since that time, many in our community have voiced their concerns that the name has the potential to cause some visitors to feel less welcome. This is clearly at odds with our vision -- to be a place of inclusion and healing.
 
As a result, the Board of Directors have voted to begin the process to change the name.
“McIntire Botanical Garden is a name that is tied to Charlottesville’s past,” said Jill Trischman-Marks, Executive Director. “Selecting a new name will focus us on the future, while clarifying our own identity within the City. This is an exciting opportunity to engage with all communities we hope to serve, and to invite them to help determine our new name.”
 
Everyone – of all ages –  is invited to suggest names. “Whether you join us to watch birds, study native flora, chase butterflies, or relax in a calming, restorative environment, the Garden has a place for you, and we need your help in coming up with a new name,” added Trischman-Marks.
 
In moving forward with the process, the Board also voted not to name the Garden after any one individual, family or corporation.  It is our hope that a new name will:
  • Offer clarity as to the geographic location of the Garden
  • Reflect our diverse community culture
  • Work with the existing turtlehead logo
Submissions will be accepted through our Facebook page, by email at new_name@mcintirebotanicalgarden.org or postcards sent to our office.  A short list of names will be submitted to the Board of Directors toward the end of summer, and a final selection will be made at that time. 
 
 
MBG 1: Garlic Mustard 0
 
While much of Virginia was closed due to the pandemic, the invasive plants in the Garden felt empowered to expand their territory, much like the swans in the canals of Venice. Undeterred, an industrious group of volunteers joined socially distant forces in May to pull weeds and battle the invasive garlic mustard.
 
Garlic mustard is a very invasive weed. The roots exude a chemical that inhibits other plants from growing, and it can grow in full sun or full shade, making it a threat to a wide variety of our native plants and habitats. Each plant can produce up to 5,000 seeds which remain viable in the soil for five years or more, so it was important to take action.
 
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The number of volunteers willing to help outweighed the available spaces, limited by social distancing measures, but the garlic mustard didn’t stand a chance. Estimates are our volunteers – buoyed by glorious weather – pulled some 1,200 2nd year plants. 
 
For more information about battling the Garlic Mustard,
 
 
MBG Announces New Board Leadership
 
At our recent Board meeting, the Directors elected Carol Carter to the position of President, and Diego Anderson to the position of Vice President. Both positions are for two-year terms and will take effect as of July 1, 2020. Current Board President Joan Swanberg will remain on the Board as Immediate Past President.
 
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Carol Carter first moved to Charlottesville to attend the University of Virginia. She graduated from the School of Nursing and then from the Darden Graduate School of Business. She is active in promoting conservation through the Albemarle Garden Club and Virginia Conservation Network.
 
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Diego Anderson has lived in the Charlottesville area for more than 20 years. He has an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from South Carolina State, a master’s in administration from Central Michigan University, and completed a master’s in the management of information technology from the University of Virginia, McIntire School of Commerce. Diego brings a strong business and operational background to the Board, having worked for several publicly and privately held organizations.
 
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On behalf of the Board, Staff and all Volunteers, we would like to extend our deepest gratitude to Joan Swanberg for her leadership over the past year. Under Joan’s guidance, we hired our first Executive Director, established formal offices and broke all previous fundraising records. Joan has been a tireless advocate for the Garden and has been quick to provide her enthusiasm and energy to a number of committees, community events and capital efforts. We are grateful to have her continued support.
 
 
Nature Connection - A Vital Mental Health Resource during the COVID-19 Crisis
by Carolyn Schuyler
 
Nature is currently receiving a surge of media attention as an antidote to the emotional challenges 
of the current COVID-19 crisis. It is good news in a time of alarming headlines. The rich sensory experiences nature provides are proven to help in the recovery from stress. A 2020 literature review of studies determined that just 120 minutes of nature exposure a week contributes to improved wellbeing. Wilderness immersions are not required to receive the benefits. Research has found that nearby nature in schoolyards and neighborhoods promotes emotional resilience.  Even window views of trees and green landscapes buffer against the ill-effects of stress.
 
As the pandemic has triggered a historic rise in mental health problems, now more than ever we need restorative green spaces to invite play and nature connection. A University of Pennsylvania study found that “greening” urban lots reduces rates of depression in urban neighborhoods.  Adding benches, inviting signage and small gardens can transform small underused urban areas into destinations for “green microbreaks” to boost mood and reduce mental fatigue. Working to improve green areas is a timely public health project given the relative ease of maintaining social distance outdoors.
 
With extended school closures and play equipment off-limits due to COVID-19 risk, it is particularly important to create neighborhood play areas that give children outlets for creativity and exploration. Providing a collection of rocks painted to look like animals or piles of branches for fort building is a start to welcoming children and families into green areas. Rotating signage suggesting running games or encouraging a scavenger hunt may encourage new engagement with open lawns. The time and minimal expense needed to create special outdoor play spaces is worth the investment not only for the joy they provide. Nature play creates a foundation for academic success by fostering stronger attentional focus, increased creativity, and emotional self-regulation.
 
Over the last two decades, play has steadily declined as childhood has moved indoors and in front of screens. COVID-19 has exacerbated this trend with worsening consequences for children’s wellbeing. In an effort to protect time for play in childhood, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child has long declared play an international human right. Every community must assess whether children’s right to play is adequately protected through access to quality neighborhood play spaces and allocation of time for child-directed play. Given the disparities in access to play spaces and green areas in our community, counteractive efforts are critically important in helping all children to thrive.
 
Locally, several organizations are working to create and maintain restorative natural spaces, outdoor play areas, and greenways that are the building blocks for public health. The efforts of the Piedmont Environmental Council, Albemarle County and Charlottesville Parks and Recreation departments, Ivy Creek Natural Area, Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center, Tree Stewards, The Grove, McIntire Botanical Garden and Wildrock are essential in this time of rising mental health needs.
 
Nature connection has always helped people find solace, inspiration and joy in hard times. COVID-19 has helped us to see how much we need our community green spaces and the organizations that promote and protect them. In the pandemic recovery and rebuilding period ahead, green spaces must be fully appreciated as critical social determinants of health.
 
Reprinted with permission. Carolyn Schuyler, LCSW, is founder and executive director of Wildrock, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting nature play for health and happiness. 
 
 
MBG Board Member Q&A
 
Linda S. Seaman has made Charlottesville her home since 1974. Active in community life, she served three terms on the Charlottesville School Board from 1986 to 1995. Her career involved education programming for the Virginia Museum of Natural History UVA Branch and serving as executive director of the Charlottesville Area School Business Alliance. Linda first joined the MBG Board in 2008, but left after a few years. She rejoined the Board in 2016 and has been a dedicated and passionate supporter since. Linda retires from the Board at the end of her term, June 30. We are deeply grateful for her wisdom, guidance and heart.
 
Q) Why did you get involved with McIntire Botanical Garden? 
Long before the Master Planning of McIntire Park, there was talk of a botanical garden in Charlottesville. This idea appealed to me as a wonderful addition to the City’s Park system that would bring all people together to enjoy the native plants of the Piedmont in a beautiful and accessible place. With the increasing population density of this area, natural landscapes become very important for the overall health and enjoyment of our community’s residents.
 
Q) What do you consider to be the highlight of your years with the Garden?
The progress the McIntire Botanical Garden organization has made has involved many, many dedicated people who have shared the dream of a special garden for our community. Milestones of note include getting a schematic design for the garden, hiring an executive director and establishing an office. Even greater challenges lie ahead, that is the direction we should be looking.
 
Q) What should the community know about MBG?
McIntire Park is a large park belonging to the people of Charlottesville. McIntire Botanical Garden will be located in a portion of this park. Community members should become acquainted with this wonderful resource, learn of opportunities to make it even more useful, and know that contributions are very welcome! The Garden will be a community asset that will attract visitors and enhance our economy.
 
Q) What do you love most about gardening? 
Gardens and gardening are peaceful and restorative places and activities. They provide the opportunity to learn about the interconnectedness of this amazing environment.
 
Q) What is your favorite flower or shrub? 
When I am not near the one I love, I love the one I am near.
 
Q) What will you do with all of your spare time now? 
While continuing my interest in the progress of the Garden, I will be involved in other community activities. The Charlottesville community provides so many opportunities for service. My special interests involve education and workforce development.
 
"Linda Seaman has generously given to the McIntire Botanical Garden her deep knowledge of our town, her brainpower, and her sense of humor. Because of her drive, the Board of Directors has achieved a full organization, new fundraising heights, and growing community support.  Thanks, Linda!"      Virginia Daugherty
 
Species Spotlight: The Black Gum  
by Charlotte Devine 
 
Aren’t we all looking for the perfect tree? One that grows almost anywhere, provides ecological value, and is beautiful to boot? Black gum, Nyssa sylvatica, might be the very tree we’ve all been searching for...and we happen to have a few right here in the Garden. Extending in range from Ontario to Mexico, the black gum is a versatile, resilient tree with incredible ecosystem contributions. Also called “black tupelo” and “pepperidge,” the black gum typically reaches between 60 and 80 feet tall and up to 35 feet wide. Its shiny elliptical leaves are leather-like and stand out against the tree’s gray bark, which is likened to alligator skin due to its irregular grooves. Black gum is a slow grower, gaining about one to two feet in height each year, but it can live on for centuries. The oldest known specimen today is almost 700 years old. As if that isn’t enough, black gum really stands out in terms of its fall foliage. The dense canopy changes from deep green to a striking mosaic of gold, orange, scarlet, and purple come autumn.
 
In addition to its stunning appearance, black gum flourishes in a wide range of conditions. The species grows in most soil types as long as they are slightly acidic with at least partial sun. It can be found in both soggy lowlands and dry highlands, although it generally prefers moist soil. Black gum also tolerates fire, deer, drought, salt, and temporary flooding, making it a pretty tough tree. It is not threatened seriously by any pests, although forest tent caterpillars (Malacosoma disstria) and Tupelo leaf miner (Antispila nyssaefolia) and may cause minor damage until identified. However, should serious damage occur to the tree, its stump will produce sprouts to restore growth.
 
Perhaps the most redeeming feature of the black gum is its habitat worth. Natural crooks in the tree provide areas for animals like bats and tree frogs to nest. Its dark blue fruits feed foxes, turkeys, birds, and bears in the fall, and both beavers and deer nibble on the sprouts and twigs. Black gum flower nectar attracts bees, and they in turn produce a tasty, mild honey for harvest. The pretty light wood of the black gum is also used in production of goods ranging from paper pulp and docks to veneers and gunstocks. You might see the black gum scattered throughout the Appalachian Mountains amongst groves of oaks, dogwoods, black cherries and hickories. Take a trip outside for a meditative stroll and enjoy the black gum’s shade as summer begins.
 
Charlotte received a M.A. in Environmental Sciences from the University of Virginia in 2018. We welcome her contribution to our newsletter.
 
 
Students Weigh in on MBG Planning 
 
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You already know the work of MBG’s Education Committee – our butterfly, bird and tree walks are not only fun, but also reinforce how effective the Garden can be as a resource for community learning. Recently we tapped into the collective creativity of students from Charlottesville High School, as well as participants in Cornell University’s Public Garden Management program to invite them to study and contribute to the strategic planning for MBG.
 
During winter break, Andy Josselyn, a teacher at CHS reached out to ask how his students could be involved in the design and construction of the Garden. At the same time, a professor from the school of Integrative Plant Sciences at Cornell University made a similar request. The collaboration would help develop integrated, multi-disciplinary educational programs at the Garden geared toward families and children.
 
While the arrival of COVID-19 would spell an end to in-person classes and meetings, the collaboration continued thanks to the wonders of Zoom meetings and remote surveys. The Cornell Students broke into two groups focused on educational outreach and fundraising opportunities and programs that would appeal to children and teenagers.
 
An impressive amount of research, creative thinking and brainstorming took place among all student participants, which resulted in their making presentations about findings to the MBG Board of Directors. While some ideas will take longer to implement, others offered immediate potential, and we are examining ways to implement them. Stay tuned for more!
 
 
Help Wanted
 
Looking for opportunities to put your skills to work for the Garden? We are looking for a few candidates (paid and volunteer) to pitch in and help build our Garden. Check out our website for more details and to apply.
 
Director of Development (Full-time, salaried) … Reporting to the Executive Director, the DoD will be responsible for conceptualizing and leading a capital campaign to raise philanthropic support for MBG. The DoD will be a strong partner with the ED in defining campaign priorities, managing an annual giving program and a portfolio of major gift prospects, and other fundraising efforts. For more information, click here.
 
Grant writer (volunteer) ... Our Development Committee is looking for a volunteer to help prepare grant templates and track reporting deadlines as we seek grants to help build the Garden.  
 
Office Assistant for Executive Director (volunteer) ... This is a great opportunity to work closely with our Executive Director on a variety of organizational tasks.  Involves work from home with occasional check-ins at the MBG office.
 
Event Coordinator (volunteer) … We will get back to holding events and need some help with organizing our fundraising and community events.  Energy, a personal computer and good organizational skills required.
 
Social Media Coordinator (volunteer) ... Our Facebook and Instagram accounts are one of our most popular channels for keeping in touch with our community. Our marketing committee is looking for a creative volunteer to help design content as well as track results. Creativity and knowledge of social media required. A great opportunity to add to a college resume!
 
 
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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McIntire Botanical Garden
200 Garrett Street, Suite H
Charlottesville, VA 22902