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By Janet Woody, Librarian, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

More precisely, Catesby prints are visiting. Mark Catesby was a British naturalist who lived from 1682 (or 3) to 1749.  He came to Virginia in 1712 and stayed with his sister in Williamsburg.  He was sent by friends to collect botanical specimens and return them to London, where colonial plants were in great demand. Catesby returned to London in 1719 and delivered shells, bird skins and eggs, acorns, plants, and drawings that he made on his travels. His friends were so impressed by his attention to packing and shipping plants and other specimens that they recommended him to the Royal Society for a return mission. Other friends were impressed with his drawings and encouraged him to go back to the colonies to create a ‘Natural History’ of the new world.  He painted from life usually and the detail and accuracy of his work is remarkable. Catesby worked in watercolor and gouache. He may not have set out to paint birds and animals but we can imagine that he soon became enthralled with them and added many to his plant illustrations. He was not overly concerned with proportional representation and this made for some interesting combinations. For example, his bison is humorously dwarfed by the ‘Pseudo Acacia’ it stands under (print RL26090). This tree is now known as Robinia pseudoacacia or black locust.

Catesby bison and tree.

Catesby’s bison and pseudoacacia.

On his return to England after the second trip (1722-26), Catesby learned to etch his own plates so that his original drawings could be reproduced. The original watercolors were purchased by George III in 1768 and are owned by the Royal Library at Windsor Castle. To celebrate the 60th anniversary of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II and the 300th anniversary of Catesby’s arrival in Virginia, they are for the first time being reproduced for publication. Addison Publications of London offered us facsimiles for display during the time our garden is hosting the Council on Botanical and Horticultural Libraries annual meeting, April 29 – May 3. I had the pleasure and challenge of selecting 15 facsimiles for display; all were selected based on their representation of Virginia plants, animals, birds, insects, and reptiles. I like to imagine how our woods and fields looked to Catesby during his explorations and I’m very impressed that he could keep his papers and drawing supplies dry during his wanderings. He must have been very clever and determined to succeed.

The dates of the Catesby exhibit are April 24 – June 1, 2014. Library hours are 10 am to 4 pm weekdays, 1 to 4 pm weekends. The exhibit is free with Garden admission. Call 804-262-9887 x240 for more information.

Bibliographic details: the last 20 sets of this facsimile edition are being issued in four leather-bound volumes. Each set includes Catesby’s extensive description of the environment and its inhabitants. Indices are included that list Catesby’s Latin and English names alongside up-to-date scientific nomenclature and common names. More information on the four volume set is available at Addison Publications Ltd.

 by Jonah Holland, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Public Relations & Marketing Coordinator 

photo of the Lewis Ginter Spring Plant Sale.

I bet you know about Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden’s Spring Plant Sale (May 1-3, 2014), and I bet you know about Maymont’s Herbs Galore (coming up this weekend), but did you know that Hermitage Technical Center has a Spring Plant Sale too!?

Plant-lovers unite! Let’s give a warm welcome to the new kid on the block. The kids the Hermitage Technical Center have been working hard growing beautiful plants for your garden. Their Spring Plant Sale is Tuesday, May 6, 9 a.m.-7 p.m.,  Wednesday, May 7, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Thursday, May 8, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. For more details visit Henrico County Public Schools’ press release.

Oh, and if you want to learn more about the Garden’s Spring Plant Sale, stay tuned! Later this week we’ll post the entire list of vendors and what’s new at this year’s Spring Plant Sale.


by Georgine Muc, Project Coordinator, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

How does one join in on an ancient conversation? Settling down with a candle, a crude wooden writing device, and the mystifying smell of melting beeswax, is how my journey begins. Like many endeavors, it is good to pause before you decide on that first stroke that commits you to travel in a specific direction. When creating pysanky, if you cradle the egg before you begin, many believe the egg will guide you as you draw.

Georgine Muc's Pysanky Eggs

Georgine Muc’s Pysanky Eggs

Tradition dictates that we clear our minds of any negative thoughts and refrain from gossip as we “write” on the egg.

The process begins, tiny chunks of wax are lifted with our tool, the kistka. The kistka is exposed to the heat of the candle, but only briefly to prevent the tool from overheating and dropping an unwanted wax blob across carefully placed lines. If the tool becomes cold the flow of the wax stops and our sweet smelling writing implement turns into a unwanted scratching device, threatening to pull off the delicate lines already accomplished. If we find our equilibrium in this meditative endeavor, we achieve a rhythm between heating and drawing. On a curved surface, a straight line is not a successful line. It is the relationship between the lines we must strive to maintain.

Fortunately, there are unexpected gifts in the midst of the challenges: many times a “mistake” becomes a launching point for the next design.

We heat, we draw, we guide the egg into its first jar of dye. Every line drawn appears black, with the lines drawn at the very start revealed as white at the end of the process. The black lines encapsulate the egg’s current color, concealing and protecting the underlying pigments. The entire egg will become darker as you dip into colors, moving from light colors to dark. With the time the egg sits in a glass jar measured in terms of hue and not minutes, this is our time to pause and connect with all the pysanky makers of the past.

When we feel the egg is complete, we carefully utilize the heat of the candle to melt and remove the beeswax in small sections to prevent from scorching the outside shell. Our patience is rewarded as the vibrant colors emerge.

So pause yourself, cradle your egg, clear your mind, and light your candle.

Georgine Mucs’s Pysanky eggs will be on display in the Lora Robins Library  now through May 11th.

Text & photos by Brian Vick, Community Kitchen Garden Coordinator, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

March 17: Winged (or Flaming) Euonymus branches stand ready to support sugar snap peas.

We started our formal schedule of Saturday and Monday morning volunteer sessions in the Community Kitchen Garden on April 12, and we’ve had a wild ride on the Central Virginia weather roller coaster (snow, heat, then frost).

At this point we’ve planted red potatoes, lettuce, sugar snap peas, leeks, red onions, Swiss chard, turnips and beets, and we’ve done a ton of work preparing beds and pathways. So far this season we’ve had assistance  from 45 volunteers! (six HandsOn Greater Richmond registrants, four Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden volunteers (Catherine Doucette, Sara Buczkowski, Nack Pring and Gary Pantaleo), longtime Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden seasonal gardener Lisa Shiffert and her son Wylie, three Starbucks partners led by Heidi Schlaudt, and 30 Bank of America volunteers. Look for a future blog post on Bank of America visit.

April 10: Sugar snap peas are up!

April 10: Sugar snap peas are up!

We’ve also already made one delivery of fresh produce to FeedMore! But we didn’t grow it… it was fourteen pounds of fresh broccoli raab donated from the garden of Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden Member Vincent Pustizzi.

Broccoli raab donated to FeedMore's Community Kitchen by LGBG member Vincent Pustizzi.

Broccoli raab donated to FeedMore’s Community Kitchen by Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden Member Vincent Pustizzi.

Text & photos by Brian Vick, Community Kitchen Garden Coordinator, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

eastern redbud buds

“Cauliflorous” or “cauliflory” is the term describing the production of flowers on the trunk and branches of woody plants, as opposed to the ends of the twigs. In this case, we’re looking at the ubiquitous eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis) – which happens to be a legume (member of the bean family: Fabaceae). Native Americans consumed redbud flowers raw or boiled, and ate roasted seeds. That’s the green seed pods, not the mature seed pods. The flowers contain anthocyanins. Images abound on the web picturing beautiful salads garnished with redbud blooms, and the blooms visible through the translucent rice wrappers of  spring rolls. How appropriate… spring = redbud blooms = spring rolls.

florescent inflorescence

Florescent flowers!

eastern redbed tree blooms

The joy of watching a butterfly up close. Photo by Scott Elmquist

The joy of watching a butterfly up close. Photo by Scott Elmquist

Can you believe Butterflies LIVE! starts in just 2 short weeks? We can’t wait! And guess what? We receive our first chrysalids today too!  Stay tuned for more info on what’s new this year in the exhibit.

By Nicki, Youth Programs Developer, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

daniel alonso  shrinky dink

Check out Daniel Alonso’s Shrinky Dink portrait at the HandsOn Greater Richmond Power of Good art show!  The art show celebrates local volunteers and portraits were done by Tiffany Glass Ferreira‘s Shrinky Dink Selfie Campaign. We are so proud of Daniel and all that he has done for the Children’s Garden! Of course the Children’s Garden loves crafty artforms like Shrinky Dinks! To see more Shrinky Dink portraits visit HandsOnRVA’s Facebook album: Power of Good.


by Megan Compton, Education Assistant,  Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden  
Mother's Day enjoying the flowers with the kids.

Mother's Day 2008 during the concert in the Auditorium.

Mother’s Day 2008 during the concert in the auditorium.

Our first Mother’s Day Celebration at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden was actually before I even became a mom. My best friend’s father leads Glennroy and Company and we came to hear him play the Mother’s Day concert down at Bloemendaal House. It was a beautiful spring day and we relaxed and enjoyed  listening to the music.

Mother's Day 2009

Mother’s Day 2009

When my daughter was born, it seemed natural to bring my family to the Garden for my first Mother’s Day as a mom.  We arranged to meet my best friend, whose daughter is just 4 months older than mine.  That day turned out to be a rainy one and the concert was held in the Education and Library Complex auditorium. Despite the torrential downpour, we had a wonderful time and decided to make Mother’s Day at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden a yearly tradition.


2010 Mother’s Day – Exploring Grace Arents Garden

Every year since, our families have met at the Garden for the Mother’s Day Concert.  The girls love coming to hear “Pop Pop’s Band”  and they spend hours dancing to tunes like “Kansas City” and “Under the Boardwalk.”  Watching them grow up and change each year has been fascinating: from those early years where just the excitement of feeling the texture of the grass was thrilling,  to smelling the peonies as they got a bit older,  and now having deep, big-kid conversations about life.

2011 mothers day 2 girls looking at peonies

Mother’s Day 2011 – Smelling the Peonies in Grace Arents Garden

The photos we have captured each year against such a beautiful backdrop of the Garden tell the story of the girls’ growing friendship and have provided us with such wonderful memories.

2012 Mothers Day Dancing under the tent at Bloemendaal

2012 Mothers Day – Dancing under the tent at Bloemendaal

I am looking forward to spending May 11th at the Garden this year with our families!  We’ll purchase lunch from Meriwether Godsey down under the tent at Bloemendaal.  They have options for the kids as well, and beverages to celebrate mom.   We will eat a lovely lunch while listening to the smooth tunes of Glennroy and Company.  The girls will have a great time dancing, exploring and visiting – what a perfect play-date!  We have new additions to our families and it will be so special to continue this Mother’s Day tradition with them too.

2013 Mother's Day - Having fun listening to the music!

2013 Mother’s Day – Having fun listening to the music!

By Nicki, Youth Programs Developer, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Kylie planting

This weekend Kylie helped plant a wonderful purple kale variety in the Youth Volunteer Display Garden. Kylie is in the Service Learning Program. We will harvest the kale in a couple of months so check in with us to see what recipes we come up with using purple kale!

This weekend we celebrated Global Youth Service Day by planting kale and lettuce transplants that we started in the Children’s Garden greenhouse earlier this year.  Our Service Learning Program volunteers  helped us plant the vegetables  in our newly established Youth Volunteer Display Garden. This garden consists of hollow log containers and straw bales and is located in the Children’s Garden near the Sand Play area.

The young volunteers chose straw bale container gardens because they work well for areas where planting may difficult, like around a tree with a massive root system. They also chose log planters as another resourceful way to reuse trees that have come down at the Garden.  The soil we use in raised-beds comes from the Children’s Garden compost bins  made from scraps from the Garden Café.  And in a full circle, the straw bales and logs will eventually decompose  we will use it as compost for a new Youth Display Garden for next year.

The Youth Volunteer Display Garden was designed and  planted, and is maintained by our dedicated youth volunteers and is a collaborative effort from all of the various youth programs the Garden offers.  In addition to the transplants, we also planted seeds and bulbs, along with a variety of native flowers, as well as fruits and vegetable that will come later in the year. We designed the garden with the intention of having a four-season (year-round) garden. This week we will add lemon balm and we will harvest it in late October in honor of Food Day.


By Beth Monroe, Public Relations and Marketing Director, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Dog Tooth Violet Erythronium 'Kondo'

Dog Tooth Violet Erythronium ‘Kondo’

Tulips tend to be the rock stars of the Garden. Colorful and showy, they stand out and we adore them. Tulips are in bloom now at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden and people are busy photographing them like paparazzi stalking the latest celebrity.

I was one of those people today, until Garden horticulturist George Cowart asked if I wanted to see something really special. He pointed out flowers I had walked past and never noticed in the Flagler Garden. These beauties were indescribably delicate, dancing in the morning sun like fairy flowers.

Spring ephemeral Epimedium Grandiflorum Album

Epimedium grandiflorum ‘Album’

I had heard of spring ephemerals before, but had never really searched for them in the Garden. They’re called ephemerals because their flowers and leaves do not last long; they’re designed to take advantage of early spring sunlight reaching the forest floor before a thick canopy of leaves develops overhead. Once George began pointing them out, I noticed ephemerals in many places.

Bishops Hat Epimedium myrianthum

Bishops Hat Epimedium myrianthum

If you’re visiting over the next couple of day to see the tulips, I’d encourage you to also look for these spring ephemerals in the Flagler Garden’s Woodland Walk. You may have to search a bit, but it is well worth the effort.

Bishops Hat Epimedium grandiflorum Rose Queen

Bishops Hat Epimedium grandiflorum ‘Rose Queen’


Trillium catesbaei

Trillium catesbaei


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