Friends of the Arboretum August 2019 Newsletter

Chair’s Corner

Summer’s End at the Arboretum

Alas, summer is winding down and the kids are already back at school. But as the temperatures moderate to something more pleasant, now is a perfect time to come out to the Arb! Walk the trails, delight in the gardens still in full bloom, and enjoy these upcoming events you won’t want to miss (click on the title links for more details): 

Results from the Annual Field Trial and the Midwest FlowerFest 
Back in June, we told you about the Arboretum’s annual field trial, which is a comparison planting of standard and new annual flower varieties to see how they perform in our variable Kansas weather. The field trial flower beds and containers are located to the south and west of the Train Garden area, and the results are really interesting for those gardeners among us! This summer has been typical of our weather, which offers visitors the chance to see how these flowers perform. 

Karen Kerkhoff, Arboretum Supervisor, tells us that as her staff membershave planted, maintained and watched these varieties grow, they’ve especially enjoyed the Zinnia ‘Magellan’ series (Mary), Gaillardia ‘Heat It Up Yellow’ (Anne) and Vinca ‘Soiree Kawaii’ series (Karen).  Karen says, “You may see this small vinca in the Train Garden next year and I’m certain Anne will find a place for the gaillardia. The Magellan zinnias have been planted in the gardens in the past. Unfortunately, the deer have enjoyed the begonias and budworms have enjoyed the flowers on Angelonia and Calibrachoa.” 

The plantings will officially remain in place through Labor Day, so make a trip out to see which varieties you like. If you hang around an extra few minutes, you’ll see which varieties the butterflies, moths and bees are visiting. Make a note to yourself if you want to add these to your garden next year.   

Plans are underway for the 2020 Annual Field Trial.   

Terra Luna – September 19-21, 2019We are SO excited about bringing this nighttime experience of light and sound to the Arboretum! Some of you may be familiar with Quixotic, or they may be completely new to you, but this is an event you should not miss. It’s an acrobatic fusion of art and nature in a way you’ve never encountered. The performance is appropriate for all ages, but there is no discount for child admission. Choose the night you’d like to attend and be sure to purchase your tickets ahead of time, as there will be no FOTA discount at the door. Tickets are $20 for FOTA members (use code SAVE2) and $25 for non-members and can be purchased by clicking here. Terra Luna is brought to the Arboretum through the generosity of Waterfront Wealth as well as a partnership between Friends of the Arboretum and Quixotic. 

Whirlwind: Art in Motion – ending September 30, 2019
We’re coming to the end of this 18-month exhibit of kinetic art, so be sure to visit the sculptures at least one more time before they leave! You can pick up a map from the greeter’s desk in the visitor center so you don’t miss any of the artwork – it’s a great way to tour all the corners of the gardens. And if you’d like to take the exhibit home with you, we have full color beautiful art catalogs available for purchase in the Arboretum gift shop for $12 each. 

Botanical Brewfest – October 12, 2019
This festive fall tradition is back for its 6th year! If you enjoy tasting a variety of beers and food along with fun and games (and you’re over 21), this is your event! Tickets are $55 for FOTA members (use code BREW19) and $60 for non-members and can be purchased by clicking here

Interested in volunteering for these events? 

If you’d like to volunteer for Terra Luna, you can do so by logging into Volgistics or by contacting Kim at or Cindy at If you’d like to volunteer for Botanical Brewfest, you can do so by clicking here

See you at the Arb!

Sonya Wright
Chair, Friends of the Arboretum

Volunteer Spotlight: 
Mary’s Tuesday Morning Garden Crew

The Arboretum offers a wide variety of volunteer opportunities. Some volunteers enjoy being around people, some don’t; some enjoy working with children, others prefer to work with their peers; some choose to work indoors, others outdoors. Our volunteer pool is as varied as the jobs they perform. We have ex-educators, physicians, teachers, insurance professionals – and the list goes on. And although their backgrounds are diverse, the common denominator is their love and appreciation of nature. 

I know when I think of a Botanical Garden, I think of lush landscapes, trees and flowers. The group of volunteers highlighted this month are Mary Devine’s Tuesday morning gardeners – Linda Stoker, Debby Schreier, Joshua Gorman, Gay Kennedy, Colleen Wagner, Sarah Dwyer and Fernando Borrell. They weed, water, deadhead and plant; they work carefully and methodically to preserve the beauty of our Botanical Gardens. 

Linda Stoker has been gardening with Mary for the last 4 years. Linda says her team is GREAT and she “loves being responsible for certain areas and seeing them grow and change with the seasons!” She is also an active volunteer at her church and leads a bookclub. Linda just found out that she was accepted into the Johnson County Master Gardener program!  Congratulations Linda!

Debby Schreier has been gardening with Mary for 7 years. She taught for 40 years prior to coming to the Arboretum and says she loves retirement. Her other volunteer activities include  GED tutoring and coaching tennis for Special Olympics. She also enjoys yoga and playing tennis. Debby states, “Besides the gardening, I enjoy the people that love working at the Arboretum. It’s great to see the gardens grow and improve.” 

Joshua Gorman started volunteering in March. He earned a degree in horticulture with a minor in soil science from Oregon State University. His degree focussed on viticulture and enology and he worked as a viticulturist at a vineyard management company in McMinnville, OR from 2011-2017. In his free time, he enjoys caring for his many plants, often times having to give them as gifts (advice from his wife) when they become too plentiful. He is an avid gardener who, as he puts it, “tries to learn from my mistakes of the previous seasons.” 

Colleen Wagner is another relatively new volunteer, joining us in January. Not only does she garden, but is also involved in many of our special events like Wine Tasting on the Terrace, the spring plant sale and Stems. She enjoys drawing and painting and also has the credentials of Master Gardener

Gay Kennedy started volunteering at the Arboretum last October. She’s helped with Luminary and is a dependable member on Mary’s crew. She worked at the Yankton Town & Country Garden Club, caring for Historical Capital, planting, weeding and developing work schedules. Did I mention she likes to weed?  She has certainly come to the right place!

Sarah Dwyer is a teacher who started gardening to “step outside the classroom and learn gardening skills.” We enjoyed having her help this summer and look forward to seeing her and her class in September when they come for a field trip!

Fernando Borrell is a high schooler that also helped this summer, regularly gardening on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Although we are less likely to see him during the weekdays, we do look forward to his help at our special events. 

We are so appreciative of this knowledgeable, dedicated group of volunteers. Mary summarizes them by saying, “All in my group work really hard from weeding to clearing branches/brush in Marder Woodland Garden. They even sometimes roam into Lisa’s or Dianna’s areas too!” Thank you for all you do to make the Arboretum a better place. We are grateful for your service.