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by Jonah Holland, PR & Marketing Coordinator, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

With Dominion GardenFest of Lights in full swing, sometimes it’s hard to look ahead to the next season. But here at the Garden we are always planning the next big thing….and this year is no different.  In fact, it was earlier this fall  during HandsOn Day volunteers took to the Anderson Meadow (between the Conservatory & Sydnor Lake) and planted flowers that will bloom in the spring — just in time for our next big exhibition — Meadowmorphois, a sculpture by Patrick Dougherty, who will be the Garden’s artist in residence from May 2 – 22, 2011.

Planting the Anderson Meadow photo by Kate Semp

The Biase family & Assistant Executive Director Tom Brinda planting the Anderson Meadow photo by Kate Semp

Do you know about HandsOn Day? Its amazing!  Hundreds of volunteers descend on the city to do good! Here at the Garden, not only did  social media socialite Kate Semp help volunteering ….but she also did a bit of photography and snapped this wonderful photo of the  Biase Family — Nick, Fran,  and Annie,  who were also volunteering as part of the project.  Fran, Nick and Annie Biase are pictured here with Tom Brinda, the Garden’s Assistant Executive Director.  Fran Biase was kind enough to share some thoughts about the day:

We enjoyed participating in Hands On Richmond because it gave both Annie and us an opportunity to feel more connected to the Richmond community – Annie’s new home away from home. My sister lives in Richmond and had mentioned how beautiful Ginter Botanical Gardens are, so it was an easy decision to choose that location for our day of community service. It turned out to be a beautiful fall day and we enjoyed getting to know the other volunteers and the staff at the Gardens. We look forward to returning to Ginter in the spring with Annie to see the meadow garden that we helped to plant.

Fran didn’t mention that she, Nick and Annie did a lot of hard work that day! They helped plant many hundreds of wildflowers including Black-Eyed Susan, Rough-Stemmed Goldenrod, Gayfeather, Aster tataricus ‘Jin Dai’, Chrysopis villosa, Helianthus, Willow Leaf Sunflower and Missouri Cone Flower in the Anderson Meadow so that when spring come it will be a magnificent place to build a stickwork sculpture!

Personally, I’m thrilled that the Richmond Region is going to get to view the creation of such a treasure as this.  For these three weeks in May, visitors will witness the creation of  this monumental, site-specific sculpture made entirely of locally harvested woven tree limbs and sticks. Although you may not have heard of him yet, Dougherty is a world-famous, highly sought after sculptor who books his schedule many months  in advance.  In fact, he was recently featured in both People Magazine, and The New York Times!  For the past three decades, Dougherty has combined his love of nature with his skills as a carpenter, using  young tree saplings as his primary construction material.  Arriving at the site of each new installation with no preconceptions as to what he will create, Dougherty  draws on inspiration from the surrounding environment.  The resulting sculpture may remind visitors of a nest, cocoon, or even a fairy tale dwelling.  At the conclusion of his residency,   Dougherty will name his creation and leave the Garden with a distinctive architectural element that will remain in the Anderson Meadow for as long as it survives in the natural environment.

I wanted to take the time to thank the HandsOn Day volunteers who helped out in a variety of capacities all over Richmond, but especially the ones who helped plant something special that will grow and bloom into a magic background for some amazing creativity.  If you have a minute this video “Sortie de Cave” (Out of the Cellar) really captures the fun involved with creating such a sculpture. This “little movie” was filmed as a visual diary by Aurelie Froc, one of Patrick Dougherty’s team members for the Jardin des Arts in Chateaubourg, France,  installation. The music is by Henry Torgue and Serge Houppin.

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