N° 188 — March 6, 2024

Enjoy regular updates and insights from FONA, the U.S. National Arboretum, and our award-winning Washington Youth Garden.

Spring Blooms

Early-blooming cherry trees are just starting to flower at the National Arboretum! The Arboretum has a wide variety of flowering cherry trees, many of which are rare. Different kinds of cherry trees bloom at different times, so there will be trees in different stages of bloom and leaf from now through late April. Each visit to the Arboretum this spring should reward you with a new cherry tree in peak bloom!

The Arboretum has a three-mile self-guided flowering cherry tour so you can easily find and learn about the trees. This year's tour features 40 trees, and there are pink signs marking the tour's stops. For the first time in many years, the tour includes trees growing along the side of Mt. Hamilton. These are some of the rarest flowering cherry trees in the Arboretum's collection.

You can pick up a cherry tour brochure at the Visitor Center (or download it here). Please note that many people visit the Arboretum on the weekends during the spring.

Download the Cherry Tour Brochure >

A Fond Farewell

Last month, we bid Christin Riddick a fond farewell as he left the FONA team to begin a new role at Dreaming Out Loud. Christin spent the past four years growing FONA's youth education programs, particularly the Green Ambassador Program and SPROUT field trip program. He has a deep passion for connecting people to food and sharing about the unique cultures that surround them. His energy and creativity will be missed on our team, but we wish him the best of luck in his new role!

Christin, far left, with the 2023 Green Ambassador Farm Crew cohort.

Call for Garden Fair Vendors

Apply today to be a vendor at our Garden Fair & Plant Sale on April 27th, or at our other seasonal festivals! The Garden Fair brings over 10,000 visitors to the Arboretum for this annual spring event. We have a limited number of booths available and spaces fill quickly.

Vendor Application >

Join FONA's Team

Join the FONA team! We are hiring for the following positions:

Membership Manager >

This full-time permanent position will lead FONA's membership program and grow our fundraising efforts. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis, and is expected to start in March 2024.

Event Coordinator >


This part-time seasonal position will implement FONA's venue rental program and community events. The position requires mostly weekend work with the occasional weekday shift. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis, and is expected to start in April 2024.

Top photo by Matthew Rakola

Emilia's Garden Tips

It's not too early to prepare for spring gardening. In our latest School Garden Gateway newsletter, Garden Manager Emilia Kawashima shared tips for buying seeds, gathering supplies, and starting seeds inside.

Read Emilia's Garden Tips >

School Garden Gateway contains seasonal resources for school and home gardens, picked by our School Garden Support program team.

Sign Up to Receive the Newsletter >

Rooting DC This Weekend

Stop by Rooting DC this Saturday, March 9th from 9 AM to 4 PM at Anacostia High School. This free, day-long urban gardening forum provides education about urban agriculture, food systems, health, and the environment. Participants can workshops, panel discussions, demonstrations, and an Information Fair. Plus, stop by FONA's table and say hello to our team! Registration is required for this free event.

Register for Rooting DC >

Cornelian cherries in spring (above, Cornus officinalis; below, Cornus mas). Photos by the U.S. National Arboretum.

Plant Spotlight

One of the first splashes of spring color at the U.S. National Arboretum comes from

cornelian cherries, Cornus mas and Cornus officinalis. The Cornus mas trees were collected from Ukraine, North Macedonia, and Russia, while the Cornus officinalis are from Japan, South Korea, and China. Their bright yellow flowers appear in clusters on their graceful branches, and contrast nicely with their flaky gray-brown bark. Look forward to their colorful fall foliage and nutritious summer fruits, which have traditionally been eaten raw, made into jam or pickles, juiced or fermented in drinks, or used medicinally. Visit the Dogwood Collection to compare the two species this spring.

Kamala Codrington-White, an ORISE fellow at the National Arboretum, shares plants of note at the Arboretum in this recurring segment. Find these plants on your next trip to the Arboretum.

Upcoming Events

Native Plant Sale

March 23, 8 AM - 1 PM

Local native plant vendors, hosted by FONA

Details & Registration >

37th Annual Lahr Native Plant Symposium

March 23, 9 AM - 4 PM

Native plant symposium hosted by USNA

(Members use your discount code)

Details & Registration >

Spring into School Gardening

March 23, 11 AM - 12:30 PM

Free resources for educators, in WYG

Save the date — details to come

Flowering 5K

March 24, 9 AM

Race registration sold out, volunteers needed

Sign Up to Volunteer >

Volunteer Open House

April 6, 10 AM - 12 PM

Learn about FONA's volunteer opportunities

Details & Registration >

Youth Poetry Slam in the Garden

April 6, 2 PM - 4 PM

Youth poetry competition in WYG

Details & Registration >

Garden Fair & Plant Sale

Saturday, April 27, 9 AM - 4 PM

Plants, vendors, workshop, free activities

Details & Registration >

Bonsai Basics: Chrysanthemum Bonsai

May 4 - November 2, 5 classes

Hands-on workshop hosted by USNA

(Members use your discount code)

Details & Registration >

The Arboretum is open every day from 8 AM to 5 PM except December 25th.

Check Our Website for Full Details >

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Friends of the National Arboretum
3501 New York Ave NE
Washington, DC 20002
FONA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit membership organization with the mission to preserve and enhance a vibrant public space and support experiential programming that instills a love of plants, nature and the outdoors in all who visit, while promoting the overarching research and education mission of the U.S. National Arboretum.

Since its inception, FONA has helped support the Washington Youth Garden, Capitol Columns, Flowering Tree Walk, horticultural and research internships, restoration of Springhouse Run, and much more.

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