Dec 31st, 2015

2015: A Stellar Year!

Trying to encapsulate a year at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in a blog post is impossible. How can you capture this dynamic, multi-dimensional entity? Is it with beautiful photos of the blooms throughout the year? Or stories of the people who tend the Garden in so many ways? Perhaps it is through our visitors’ eyes and how the Garden has made a difference in their lives?

Sometimes you never know the Garden’s reach. I helped out in my son’s third grade class recently. One of his classmates remembered I work at the Garden and that she had seen me on their first-grade field trip there. “I just love the botanical garden,” she shared, smiling.

We all have our own personal perspective of the Garden. With this in mind, what follows is my 2015 overview, which by no means is a comprehensive one. It’s simply a few photos, some events I think were historically significant in the life of the Garden, and a few memories. Perhaps you have some you’d like to share as well.

January, February and Yes, Even Into March
Snow and ice, then more snow and ice. We were SO ready for spring in 2015!

Crocus in the snow

Crocus popping up through the snow


After 23 years of leading the Garden to new heights, President and CEO Frank Robinson (right) retired, passing the torch to Executive Director Shane Tippett.

Shane Tippett and Frank Robinson

Executive Director Shane Tippett (left) and retired President and CEO Frank Robinson (right)


Spring finally returned and so did the butterflies!

The Garden collaborated with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in celebration of the  Van Gogh, Manet, and Matisse: The Art of the Flower exhibit. The Garden installed picture frames so guests could view the gardens as art.


Frame looking at Conservatory

Framed view of the Conservatory

The ever-popular Butterflies LIVE! exhibit opened in mid-April (as it will in 2016)

Butterfly curator

Butterfly Curator Hilaire Ashworth teaches visitors about butterflies


The Garden hummed with activity: National Public Gardens Day, Mother’s Day, Spring Plant Sale, school group visits, classes, weddings and rentals and more.


Schoolchildren use cotton swabs to learn about pollination


Amina Abdulkadir, a participant in the Garden’s Green Adventures Summer Camp, represented the Garden at the White House as part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative.

The First Lady and Amina

Fourth-grader Amina Abdulkadir having lunch with First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House


More than 7,000 people came for CarMax Free Fourth of July at the Garden — making it one of the Garden’s most-visited days ever! (Mark your calendars for 2016)

Taking photos at July 4

Education Director Randee Humphrey takes a photo of a visiting family on CarMax Free Fourth of July


The Community Kitchen Garden kept growing with help from staff and volunteers. The fresh produce goes to FeedMore to help feed the hungry in Central Virginia. At year end, more than 7,000 pounds had been donated.

Community Kitchen Garden

Volunteers helping out in the Community Kitchen Garden


After three years of planning, Richmond2015 was upon us! The UCI Road World Championships came to Richmond and to the Garden. The Garden was the starting venue for the team time trials. This was fitting, given the Garden’s early history as a bicycle club in the late 1800s. Visitors from around the world came to visit.

Sherry Giese and cyclist

Past Meets Present: a cycling team member appears fascinated with volunteer Sherry Giese’s vintage bicycle and costume

UCI Visitors

Colorful international guests during the UCI Road World Championships


The Garden didn’t stop to take a breather after the UCI bicycle races; it was full-speed ahead into more events throughout the fall.

Latin Ballet

Performers with the Latin Ballet of Virginia invite guests, many of them children, to dance in the Cochrane Rose Garden


What makes gardens so special? Perhaps the ephemeral nature of fleeting blooms and falling leaves. Guests enjoyed discovering our region’s brand “RVA” (for Richmond, Virginia) spelled out in Ginkgo leaves.

Ginkgo tree leaves RVA

RVA spelled out in Ginkgo leaves in the Grace Arents Garden


Dominion GardenFest of Lights wowed record crowds with its “H2Whoa!” theme, helped along by unusually balmy temperatures. Haven’t had a chance to visit yet? The show runs till January 11!

Dominion GardenFest of Lights

Dominion GardenFest of Lights (photo by Tom Saunders)

There’s so much more to mention — the incredible dedication of staff, volunteers and supporters; relationships with great partner organizations; and community initiatives, including Beautiful RVA and the Richmond Garden Trail. The Garden is looking forward to many great things in 2016.

On this, the last day of 2015, I was walking down the Main Garden Path and met two ladies smiling and laughing. “We’re having so much fun!” they exclaimed.

And that’s my New Year’s wish for you — that you’ll come visit the Garden and have fun in 2016.

About Beth Monroe

Beth Monroe is public relations and marketing director at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. She feels honored to be part of a team connecting people and plants to improve our community.

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