an autumn walk through the state arboretum of virginia

Friday, October 23:  Today, I drive out to the State Arboretum of Virginia to take a walk and soak in the fall color. The arboretum sits on the northern corner of the Shenandoah Valley and is home to stands of oaks and maples, pines, a ginkgo grove, rolling meadowland, mountain vistas and many wetland plants and animals.  Also known as the Orland E. White Arboretum, it was established in 1927 and was designated the State Arboretum of Virginia in 1986.

The arboretum is part of Blandy Experimental Farm, a 700-acre research center for the University of Virginia.  Graham H. Blandy bequeathed this property to the University upon his death in 1926.

The last time I came to the Arboretum, it was springtime: the state arboretum of virginia.  The sights in autumn are a lot different from those in spring.  After parking, I head to the Quarters Building to pick up some brochures.

Quarters Building
Quarters Building

I stroll along Dogwood Lane between parallel stone walls and festive trees.

Dogwood Lane
Dogwood Lane

From here, I venture off into the woodland.

the Woodland
the Woodland
Fall leaves
Fall leaves
more fall color
more fall color
bursting with orange!
bursting with orange!
the orange tree from a distance
the orange tree from a distance

Continuing past the stone wall bordering one meadow, I walk through another meadow toward the Hewlett Lewis Pavilion, where I see a small ephemeral pond.

After walking around the meadow, I head over to Lake Arnold, another ephemeral pond.  Blandy’s ponds are seasonal, and often go dry in the summer. Because this cycle usually centers around abundant springtime moisture, ephemeral ponds are sometimes called vernal pools from the Latin word for spring.

By definition, all ephemeral ponds dry up at times but when full of water, they are also full of life. Often one can see dragonflies, tadpoles, frogs, toads, salamanders, turtles or snakes. Aquatic plants also thrive here.  Since ephemeral ponds don’t hold water year round, they don’t support fish populations. Thus, they provide safe habitat for insect and amphibian eggs that might otherwise become fish food.

Today, Lake Arnold is totally dry, much different from when I was here in spring.

Lake Arnold (Ephemeral Pond)
Lake Arnold (Ephemeral Pond)
Lake Arnold (Ephemeral Pond)
Lake Arnold (Ephemeral Pond)

I make my way to the Bridle Trail, where cornfields stretch out to my left.

Trees around Lake Arnold (Ephemeral Pond)
Trees along the Bridle Trail
walking
walking
back to the stone fence
back to the stone fence
canopy of leaves
canopy of leaves

Lake Georgette, another ephemeral pool, is also dried up today.

another Lake Georgette (Ephemeral Pond)
Lake Georgette (Ephemeral Pond)
view over Lake Georgette
view over Lake Georgette
another meadow
another meadow

Finally, I make my way back to the Quarters Building, where I find this pretty little garden.

flower garden near the Quarters Building
flower garden near the Quarters Building
flower garden near the Quarters Building
flower garden near the Quarters Building
flower garden near the Quarters Building
flower garden near the Quarters Building
flower garden near the Quarters Building
flower garden near the Quarters Building

I get in my car for the drive back, and stop to take a picture of this pretty grove before leaving the arboretum.

a burst of color on the way out
a burst of color on the way out

I drove out here on Interstate 66, but for the drive back, I take the more leisurely and scenic route 50 that goes through a number of small charming towns, including Paris, Upperville, and Middleburg.   I also pass through Aldie, Gilberts Corner, Arcola and South Riding, until eventually, I’m back in Fairfax and its suburban sprawl.

 

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