Brandon Oaks Blog

Posted on Thursday, May 12, 2011 - 11:22pm by Georgene Bramlage

Kousa dogwoods, sometimes called Japanese flowering dogwoods, enhance Brandon Oaks' May and June landscape with crowns of star-shaped milky white "flowers."  Their presence makes an evening walk a visual pleasaure. Mature trees blend with maple and holly trees on the north-facing slope between the cottages and the B3 entrance, the one with the brick-red awning; smaller trees grow in beds next to the B3 awning and a young tree is near the main entrance at the Old Zion replica near our main entrance.

Kousa Dogwood at Brandon Oaks on Norrth-facing Slope

What appear as showy flower petals are really four pointed bracts – modified leaves – that surround compact clusters of small yellow-green flowers.  These flower structures emerge in May shortly after leaves appear, but bracts peak in beauty during June, and gradually pink-up as they age and drop. 

Watch the Kousa dogwoods during autumn and winter. Fall leaf-colors are vivid reds, yellows, and purples. Pink-red to deep red globose fruits, ½" to 1" diameter and resembling raspberries, appear in late August through October.   They hang on trees long enough to resemble decorations on a Christmas tree.  Our winter resident birds may dig seeds out of the fleshy fruit once it ages.

The bark on the upright Kousa tree is especially noticeable in winter with its attractive irregular patches of gray, brown, tan, and olive-green.  Horizontally arranged slender stems stand out against snow, as do the flower and leaf  buds.  It is easy to tell the two apart  since flower buds are longer and larger than the leaf buds.

The main advantage Kousa dogwoods have over their native American cousins, the flowering dogwoods, is  resistance to the fungus that causes dogwood anthracnose.  This disease, introduced into the United States from unknown sources in the mid-1970s, infects, weakens and kills a great many of native dogwoods in U. S. forests and landscape plantings.

Posted on Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - 11:53am by Georgene Bramlage

​Brandon Oaks residents have several opportunities to develop and increase their awareness of different art forms.  Among these options are:

  • viewing art work hung by members of The League of Roanoke Artists (LRA) in the corridor by the Main Dining Room,
  • participating in watercolor and jewelry making are classes taught by Brandon Oaks Activities Director Betsy Jenkins, and
  • seeing their work hung in the annual exhibition sponsored by the Virginia Association of Non-Profit Homes for the Aging (VANHA) in the VA Senate General Assembly Building, Richmond.

VANHA Art Exhibit - 2011 and Water Color Class

Betsy Jenkins says that Brandon Oaks was one of the first communities to participate in the VANHA Art Show when it started about a dozen years ago.  Many of the paintings taken to Richmond by Betsy this year were painted during her popular and ongoing Brandon Oaks watercolor painting class.  Six Brandon Oaks residents participated this year, with paintings by Charles Boggs, Jackie Carmack, Mary Dress, Betty Pence, and Janet Whitaker and photos by Georgene Bramlage (see photos in right-hand column).  Georgene’s photo of a grandchild received Honorable Mention in the photography category.

Two hundred Commonwealth residents from 24 VANHA retirement communities presented more than 300 works of art, on display during the end of January through February, and local judges from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) selected 38 for special recognition.  First through third place ribbons were awarded in four categories: Paintings & Drawings, Prints & Collage, Photography, and Crafts.  Twenty-five Honorable Mentions were also awarded.  All participating artists received certificates of participation from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

The LRA Exhibits

Martha Lalka, daughter of resident Lottie Tice, is LRA Gallery Coordinator for Brandon Oaks and provides a changing display of  art work for the enjoyment of and possible purchase by Brandon Oaks residents and visitors.  The LRA was formed in 1958 and draws its members from amateur and professional artists, and community members who support the arts.

On Saturday, June 11, from 1 to 4 p.m., the LRA will hold a special art exhibition, open to the public, with entertainment and music at Brandon Oaks.  There will also be a special exhibit area for works by the six Brandon Oaks residents who exhibited in Richmond.  For other special LRA events, see their website.