Boxerwood Nature Center
& Woodland Garden

A Virginia Center For Environmental Education Excellence

Open daily for self tours from Dawn to Dusk 963 Ross Road, Lexington VA

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BOXERWOOD NEWSLEAF        Spring 2015


Paul Leonard, President 
Lenna Ojure, Vice President 
Joe DiNardo, Treasurer
Fran Elrod, Secretary 
Marissa Charley 
Jim Kvach
Peter Gruner 
Susan Meister 
Doug Jones

Bruce Bytnar, Managing Director
Elise Sheffield, Education Director
Jess Sullivan, Early Education 
Hannah West, Program Educator
Faith Vosburgh, Horticulturist 
Ben Eland, Gardener & Educator

OUR MISSION: The Boxerwood Education Association is a non-profit organization whose mission is to educate and inspire people of all ages to become environmentally responsible stewards of the Earth.

Boxerwood on the Virginia Historic Registry

Bruce Bytnar, Managing Director

On March 24, 2015 the Munger Lodge at the Boxerwood Nature Center and Woodland Garden was placed on the Virginia Landmarks Register. Dr. Robert and Elizabeth Munger built what is now known as the Lodge as their home in 1951. This construction served as the inspiration for Dr. Munger's horticultural interest that became the Boxerwood Woodland Garden. The building is considered an irregular form of Modernist mid-century architecture, which is currently under represented on the Commonwealth's Historic Registry. The Mungers incorporated what for the time were unusual design elements such as passive solar placement of windows, in-floor radiant heat, and other features that resulted in a structure that blends with the environment rather than competing with it. These characteristics of design and reduced footprint resonate to this day via the environmental education and leadership of Boxerwood in our community.

An application has now been forwarded to the National Park Service for consideration of the Munger Lodge for the National Registry of Historic Places.  The Boxerwood Board of Trustees are in hopes that this recognition of the significance of the Munger Lodge will ignite new interest that would enable us to raise funds to help preserve this important resource.

In a separate effort, Boxerwood in the advanced stages of obtaining a Conservation Easement on its 15.43 acres that surround the Munger Lodge. Support from Rockbridge County and the Virginia Outdoors Foundation are moving us closer to this goal.

Both of these efforts are good news as they reflect the Boxerwood Education Association's intent to protect Boxerwood as a valuable resource for our schools and community for future generations.

Springtime at Boxerwood 

Elise Sheffield, Education Director

Spring brings birds and blooms back to Boxerwood, but also bunches of buses brimming with bubbling biophiles, also known as kids. School programs are the heart of Boxerwood's mission: by starting young, we aim to raise an  entire generation of earth citizens. Translated into action, that means dozens of those school buses, each bringing a classroom of students for hands-on learning. By design, programs for the youngest focus on sensory adventure in our beautiful garden. From wonder, we build understanding, helping students build the essential environmental literacy skills needed to be a protector of our planet.

 As kids grow, these efforts take place not just at Boxerwood but throughout Rockbridge. The garden, in other words, becomes a springboard for wider action. 

This spring, for example, we are helping students from the Buena Vista school division hike the Appalachian Trail, monitor the Maury River as it flows through town, and release school-raised trout. Lexington children are monitoring nest-box activity on a new bluebird trail and planning a restoration in Richardson Park. Rockbridge children are putting in two new vegetable gardens, planning a trout release day, monitoring Woods Creek, and in celebration of Arbor Day, preparing at the end of this month to take home tiny redbud seedlings for planting and care in their own backyards. 

There is even more than this going on, but you get the picture: whatever the season, Boxerwood is not just a place, it's an action. Thank you, supporters, for making it so.

Then a young student at Natural Bridge Elementary School, I can still remember watching glittery water being poured down the Chesapeake Bay watershed board and observing intently for spring peepers by the wetlands. These are just a few memories made when I first came to Boxerwood over ten years ago. It was here at Boxerwood, through field trips with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Shenandoah Governor's School to the Bay, and from my mother's lessons of eco-friendly living, that I became inspired to become a conservationist and dedicate my life's work to helping the planet.

 Blossoming at Boxerwood  Katrina Broughman

With a BA from Mary Baldwin College in English and Sociology (Class of 2013), my studies have consistently concentrated on the environment. Likewise, the educational philosophy behind my secondary English teaching license focuses on outdoor learning. As an environmental instructor at Boxerwood this year, I am able to share some of the same lessons with the next generation that were taught to me.

It is so exciting to learn and explore with the kids as there is  always something new to discover. To investigate decomposers, we carefully turn over logs in the hopes of finding worms, beetles, millipedes, and other organisms. For soil erosion, we locate bare patches around Boxerwood and plant grass "superhero" seeds to save the soil.  We run water chemistry tests with test tubes to make sure the water is clean.

My commitment to the environment has continued to strengthen thanks to the opportunities I've had to grow as a teacher here. While I am serving in the Peace Corps in Moldova as an English educator for the next two years, I will keep Boxerwood in my heart, hoping to apply many of the same lessons I cherished here, abroad.

It is truly such a blessing to have grown up in Rockbridge County. Like the spring flowers sprouting up all around us, I am grateful to have blossomed at Boxerwood.


 Spring Gardens

Faith Vosburgh, Horticulturist

   I think spring is finally here!  If you have some time, come walk around Boxerwood and enjoy the sights and scents of the season.  Most of the magnolias are blooming now.  The Star Magnolias (Magnolia stellata) are especially fragrant.  These are early bloomers as are the larger Loebner Magnolias (Magnolia x loebneri) and for the first time that I can remember, the blooms on both magnolias were not hit by a late frost. Because of the late cold weather in March, the bloom time was delayed. Of course, you allergy sufferers know that everything is blooming at once now.  Trees and shrubs are madly producing pollen in the frenzy that is spring.  As to flowering trees, the cherries are also blooming now, soon to be followed by the crabapples and our native dogwoods and then about three weeks later the Kousa dogwoods with their large star-shaped flowers.

 The Virginia Bluebells are up under the Great Oak, one of the prettiest spring ephemerals, labeled ephemeral because by mid-summer there will be no trace of them.  It is always a surprise to see them pop up in the spring.  The flowers start out pink and gradually turn to that delightful shade of sky blue.  Bumblebees adore them.  And while I am on the subject of bumblebees, Amanda Rose Newton will be returning to Rockbridge County to give a program on bumblebees at the Rockbridge Regional Library, April 23 at 7pm.

 Most of the year, the primary color here at Boxerwood is green, but for the next couple of months, there will be lots of pink, white and yellow.


Buzz on Bees 

Jess Sullivan, Early Childhood Education Coordinator

 We are planning on a busy spring season in the Early Education world. We are all very excited to be seeing a record number of preschoolers, kindergartners and first graders, the more the merrier! Here are some photo's of our first preschool program the "Buzz on Bees". Children learn about our VIP's (very important pollinators) the bees! They learn how they pollinate flowers, how a seed is formed, about a bees anatomy, how a hive works and all the workers different jobs, how bees communicate and they get to see inside a real hive and taste honey! All of this learning is done with the help of our friendly bee puppet Beeyonce. Other programs include  "Fetch a Pail of Water" for Kindergarden and "Lost in the Woods" for First Grade.

Boxerwood Summer Camps

Hannah West

This year we will be finding new ways to explore Boxerwood! Each day we will discover different hidden places.  We have lots to learn from all of our unique habitats!

 We'll explore underground worlds with a local geologist and forage through the woods as a pioneer.  We'll try to harness the power of the sun and find out why our wetland is so important.  We will make new friends, explore new places and work as a team answering some of nature's biggest questions. Each day of camp will feature small sized groups working on outdoor nature investigations and other projects that are age-appropriate, as well as enjoying supervised free play. 

Nature Explorers Camp is directed and supervised by Boxerwood's Education staff and summer counselors. For more information, call 540-463-2697 or contact:  Hannah West or Jess Sullivan