by Amy Clark, Assistant Education Registrar & Membership Assistant, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
The first year I worked at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, I had no idea what to expect of this “GardenFest” everyone was busy preparing for; there is no What to Expect When You’re Expecting: GardenFest guide! I’d never even attended as a visitor! Suddenly, before Thanksgiving, each building began transforming into a wonderland of botanical decorations and ribbons. Trees were up lit and wrapped with lights, fluorescent flowers were planted, over-sized butterflies hovered, and a luminous peacock displayed its plumage. My new job was located at the North Pole of Richmond!
Dominion GardenFest of Lights is a sensational event, with a lot of extraordinary displays. But for me the most memorable has always been the smallest in size. The village of miniature botanical houses in the North Wing of the Conservatory completely captivated me from first sight (some images from years past). I had so many questions: What are these materials? Who organized this display? Who made these homes? My imagination made up a southern, botanical Santa Clause shouting,
Now gingko leaves! Now gourd tree houses! Now lotus leaf roofs and sea oats!
On pinecones! On floral picks! On, on pussy willow and recycled-glass-mulch-moats!
To the North Wing of the Conservatory! All the way to the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away y’all!
After asking many volunteers and staff about the display, I discovered displays and themes change each year and that they’re created by horticulture staff and volunteers. Each year the display is new and different, making their debut the highlight for me. As an employee, I even have the opportunity to sneak in before Illumination events to pick my favorites.
Calling me detail-oriented is like saying Lewis Ginter celebrates the holidays; it’s an understatement! So last year, when I in-passing dropped that it’s my “GardenFest dream” to make a botanical house for the village, I was actually encouraged by my supervisors to create one!
This year, my fifth GardenFest, I’ve been asked to help horticulturist Shannon Smith teach classes on making botanical fairy houses. We’re going to use materials collected from the Garden, glitter, and hot glue to create whimsical displays so you can start your own village!
Saturday, November 12, 9 am – 12 pm – FULL – register for the next session
Saturday, November 12, 1:30 – 4:30 pm – NEW SESSION
Adults and their accompanying children (children 5 years old and up; no more than two children per accompanying adult, please) create one house together. Some hot glue gun use will be required. We ask you to bring some materials from home; a base for your house and floral materials are provided. $56 / $45
Saturday, December 10, 9 am – 12 pm
Adults are welcomed in this workshop. Come prepared for mess. Hot glue guns will be in use. We ask you to bring some materials from home; a base for your house and floral materials are provided. $56 / $45
Classes are filling up, so register early and I’ll see you there!