Feed on

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

boys with santa photo by Scott Elmquist

Children can visit with Santa during “Santa sightings” on Merry Mondays at Dominion GardenFest of Lights through December 22, 2014.

Dominion GardenFest of Lights is a wonderful family event. If you are a parent, you know any family event can be made even better with a few tips or tricks. So that’s why we’ve put together these 8 tips for visiting GardenFest with kids.  If you have your own tips, be sure to add them in the comments for others!

1. A great way to prepare kids for a visit is to show them photos of  some of the lights before they come so they know what to look forward to.

boy with smore

Gooey s’mores by the bonfire! photo by Scott Elmquist

tweens having fun at GardenFest

Even older kids love Dominion GardenFest of Lights. Great place to take your big brother. Photo by Patricia Cancro

Also, this will give them a chance to get excited.  You can see some great photos of past year’s GardenFest on our slideshow. For photos of this year’s show, you can follow along on our social media channels including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and our blog.  To see other visitor’s photos you can search the #GardenFest hashtag on Instagram or Twitter.

2. Did you know that your children can visit with Santa at the Garden? Why go to the mall when you can see Santa at the in the Conservatory?  Merry Mondays means “Santa sightings” in the Conservatory (Mondays, 6 – 8 p.m. through Dec. 22). We welcome parents to take photos and kids can even take a moment to share their Christmas list with him.  Plus, enjoy storytime fireside with Garden Keeper & visits from Butterfly Fairy in the  Library Reading Room too. Also, don’t forget to see the doll house display.

Girl with doll house

If it’s a cold night be sure to take a break in the Library warm up by the fire in the reading room. There will be a doll house display and even one doll house kids can play with. Photo by Patricia Cancro.

3 boys smores 800

Roasting marshmallows over the bonfire. Photo by Scott Elmquist

3. If you are bringing small children you may want to bring a stroller because there’s a bit of walking involved. We also have a limited number of Baby Jogger strollers available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Girl with lights. photo by p cancro

The Children’s Garden is always fun! Photo by Patricia Cancro

4. Since much of the show is outdoors, it’s also a good idea to dress children according to the weather. Layers are always a good choice! If it’s cold, hats and mittens are great at keeping the heat in.  If you forget yours, our Bling Shop in the Children’s Garden always has extra, and it’s a fun place to explore. The Bling Shop is open Nov. 28-29, 5-9:30 p.m. and December 1-3, 5-6, 12-23, 26-31 from 5-9:30 p.m. You’ll also find these same items in our Garden Shop, which is open nightly, ’til 10 p.m.  If it’s snowing or icy out, be sure to check LewisGinter.org or Facebook for weather-related updates and cancellations.

5. Come early! You can come as early as 4:30 p.m., twilight is a magical time at the Garden and a great time to snap photos of the lights before the darkest part of the night.  Train displays in the Conservatory and Kelly Education Center open at 4 p.m. Visitation tends to peak between 5:30 – 8:30 p.m., so by arriving early (4:30 p.m.) or later (after 8:30 p.m.), you’ll avoid the crowds and parking will be easier too.  Please remember we are closed Dec. 24 & 25.) GardenFest of Lights runs til Jan. 12.  Tip: The number of visitors increases as we get closer to Dec. 25, especially once local schools get out. As you’d imagine, visitation is usually greater on the weekends and is also highly weather dependent.


Gooey s’mores by the bonfire. Photo by Patricia Cancro

6.  There is a kid-friendly menu in the Garden Cafe plus kids eat free on Monday nights (one free kid’s meal (under 12 years old) with a minimum adult purchase of $9.) Check out the other Garden Cafe’ specials too!  The Robins Tea House has a great children’s menu (5-8 p.m.) plus light bites and desert . Both spaces are beautiful, newly renovated in 2014!   What a great way to make this a memorable night for your children. Enjoy fresh-baked cookies and a vanilla milkshake, a flourless chocolate torte, cappuccino crème brulee, pumpkin beignets tossed in cinnamon sugar, or hazelnut butter cake topped with a sea salt caramel sauce.  Sound tempting? You may want to check out the full dinner menu.  Extra Tip: reservations are helpful, but not required. Call (804) 262-9887 x399)

Kids playing with trains.

Kids playing with the interactive train exhibit in the Kelly Education Center.

7. Children especially enjoy the train displays — we have two! — one in the Kelly Education Center and one in the Conservatory. The one in the Kelly Education Center is interactive (we see kids spend hours here). The one in the North Wing of the Conservatory  is exquisitely  handcrafted by our staff:  a snow-dusted city in miniature

features historic Richmond landmarks—such as Old City Hall, c. 1894; The Jefferson hotel and Lakeside Wheel Club, c. 1895; and Main Street Station, c. 1901—while late-19th-century trolley cars and G gauge toy trains travel to and fro.

8. Don’t miss the Children’s Garden. Some of our most lively and crazy lights are located here.  This is also where you’ll find the  bonfire  (think s’mores!) and the wheelchair-accessible Tree House your whole family  can “climb”.  The view from the top of the Tree House is one the kids will not forget! Sparkling lights for as far as the eye can see. Plus, hot drinks, cookies, s’mores and more are available for purchase from Espresso-A-Go-Go in the Children’s Garden. Extra tip: NEW this year, the “kid favorite” maze has moved to the Anderson Meadow across Lake Sydnor. It’s bigger than ever this year!


Conservatory during Dominion GardenFest of Lights. One of the most magical times is early – right before sunset.

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

volunteers taking a break

Volunteers taking a break at the end of the season’s last harvest earlier this week.

Community Kitchen Garden Horticulturist Laura Schumm just sent the end-of-the-year update on our Community Kitchen Garden benefiting FeedMore. The timing is perfect, because it reminds me of all the wonderful things I am thankful for today on this day of Thanksgiving.

Last week six volunteers from the community signed up to work in the the Garden via HandsonRVA.org.  With their help, we harvested the last of the vegetables for this season, a total of 179 lbs. — including 63 lbs. of cabbage, 41 lbs. of broccoli, and 75 lbs of cauliflower.  We are hoping these make some nice additions to Thanksgiving meals of those in need.  This fresh, locally grown produce will contribute to 716 meals, and  brings our total annual harvest this year to 6,379 lbs.  of fresh vegetables donated.

harvesting cabbage

Harvesting cabbage

The number one thing I’m thankful for today is our volunteers. We would not be a Garden today if it weren’t for  volunteers like Mary Mitchell & Betsy Saunders, early supporters of the Garden — before it even existed. And still today  the Garden could not exist without volunteers. Right now we have over 500 volunteers who help support the Garden with their love and care. Our army of volunteers do a huge range of things for us — everything from weeding and working in horticulture, to greeting guests, to leading tours of the Garden as Garden Guides,  to helping run our Splendor Under Glass fundraising gala,  to the “Ginter Geezers”  crafting items we need and take on woodworking projects. You’ll find volunteers inside the Butterflies LIVE! exhibit, hanging lights for Dominion GardenFest of Lights, and participating in weekly gardening crews.  We have Children’s Garden volunteers who support Green Adventures summer camp, and  volunteer photographers. We even have a crew of Youth Volunteers.

loading veggies in the cart

HandsonRVA volunteers loading cauliflower into a buggy to be transported to the food bank. Did you know you can eat cauliflower & broccoli greens? They are wonderful and super nutritious too.

And  I didn’t even yet mention the scores of volunteers who work in the Community Kitchen Garden through our partnering organizations. Organizations like HandsonRVA, Henrico County Public Schools, Faison School for Autism, Virginia Commonwealth University Service-Learning, Blue Sky Fund, there are so many more it’s hard to list them all!   We are incredibly grateful for our corporate volunteer partners too. Staff from CarMax Foundation, Bank of America Foundation, Capital One, Dominion, and MeadWestvaco Foundation have supported the Garden or the Community Kitchen Garden with their volunteer efforts this year.

We are grateful for you and how you help us serve the Richmond community. Thank you!


Hardworking volunteers at the end of the day.

veggies in crates

The day’s haul — ready for the food bank.


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

Bikes and conservatory sarah hauster

Bikes and blooms in front of the Conservatory. Photo by Sarah Hauser.

We’ve been telling you how excited we are about this year’s Dominion GardenFest of Lights for weeks now. Finally, opening day — GardenFest Illumination is nearly here. On Friday, Nov. 28, 2014, the day after Thanksgiving, we’ll illuminate the Garden kicking off the season with a trick bike show by Mike Steidley. Plus, guests will be able to power this 100+ strand, 9-foot tall unicorn by simply riding a bike.  But night after night, it’s the lights that draw people in in the dark of winter, and bring holiday cheer and create new family traditions.
There’s no doubt this year’s show,  A Legacy in Lights: 120 Years from Bicycle Club to Botanical Garden, is a show stopper.   The photos can’t really capture the light show, but they give you an idea of what it’s like.  These photos are from one of my favorite local photographers, Sarah Hauser, of the Virginia Tourism Corporation. Sarah visited GardenFest earlier this week for a media preview and really captured how much work and thought went into the design and crafting of the show.

What are you most excited to see this year?

Tulip magnolia and shooting stars! by  sarah hauser

Tulip magnolia and shooting stars! Photo by Sarah Hauser.

Ginkgo bikes sarah hauser

Bikes in the ginkgo tree in Grace Arents Garden. Photo by Sarah Hauser.

 Sarah Hauser Moon Conservatory

Conservatory by moonlight. Photo by Sarah Hauser.

Bike sculpture at night sarah hauser

Local artist John Meola crafted this pyramid-shaped sculpture out of recycled bikes. Remind you of a holiday tree? Photo by Sarah Hauser.


By Nicki, Youth Programs Developer, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Sorting cans

Faison student, Jack, sorting recyclables.

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden has had an established recycling program for years, but one area we needed help with was our Children’s Garden recycling.  Hundreds of school groups come each year to the Garden on field trips, and many bring cans and other items that can be recycled. Lots of them!  Through a collaborative program with Faison School for Autism all of these items are sorted and recycled, and Faison students are gaining real work experience.

nicki and recycling bin

Nicki showing the sorting card that the students use to help know which recycling bin to sort items into.

Students are in charge of our Children’s Garden recycling through the Garden’s Vocational Program, a program designed for youth in transition, gaining skills for life after high school. Students in the Vocational Program work on career skills and vocational training in a variety of work fields including food service, clerical, and other areas as needed. One of the areas we continue to grow in is being a certified Virginia Green attraction and our strive to be consciences of the environment we cherish so much. Recycling is another effort we make to be a more sustainable garden.

Not only is the new recycling addition helping our environment, it’s also helping our younger volunteers gain work skills. Through managing the recycling, volunteers from Faison are gaining meaningful experience and working on a variety of educational goals. Adam Wright, Faison support staff,  explains that through the Vocational Program, “Students work on individualized Education Plans (IEP) goals that include Community Based Instruction and pre-vocational training in order to increase student contact with community resources and facilitate independent engagement in a variety of enriching activities.” While managing the recycling, volunteers work on fine and gross motor skills, sorting, sequenced and multi-step tasks, reading, communication, and community engagement.

Thank you Faison school students for all of your hard work.

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

bike plane sculpture in the Rose Garden

Photo by Senior Horticulturist and GardenFest Coordinator Shannon Smith

Local artist John Meola crafted this pyramid-shaped sculpture out of recycled bikes and bike parts in the Rose Garden. In fact, he’s just putting the final touches on it now. The airplane on top is a pedal-powered bike too. I can’t wait to see it lit at night for Dominion GardenFest of Lights!

Gourdgeous Gourds!

by Lynn Kirk, Public Relations Writer, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden,  reprinted with permission from the Richmond Times-Dispatch

metallic gourds

Metallic paints transform ornamental gourds into eye-catching holiday decor.

The beauty and variety of gourds entice buyers to Steve Gallmeyer’s gourd and pumpkin stand in eastern Henrico.

The beauty and variety of gourds entice buyers to Steve Gallmeyer’s gourd and pumpkin stand in eastern Henrico.

Quirky, captivating and motley colored, the hard-shelled gourd (Lagenaria) is no longer limited as Thanksgiving décor. During December, ornamental gourds add distinctive flair to traditional holiday décor.
“They’re pretty if sprayed metallic silver, gold or copper blends and placed in crystal bowls or used as tree ornaments,” said Richmonder Lu Cavallaro, who serves as president of the Thomas Jefferson Garden Club. “There’s a big market for ornamental gourds each season because they make such beautiful, magical designs.”
Ornamental gourds claim the spotlight through yet another rising trend — as artistic focal points in modern centerpieces and floral designs.
Cavallaro, who trained as a master gardener, became intrigued with gourds more than 20 years ago. Since 2007, she has lectured about the topic at garden clubs across the region, encouraging gardeners and designers to experiment with the endless possibilities of design.

gourd arrangment

A dried gourd arrangement, such as this one by Lu Cavallaro, exudes an organic feel and serves as a conversation piece for year-round display.

“Gourds have a life of their own,” Cavallaro said. “They’re fascinating and different, and the variety is amazing.”
Gourds’ common names typically describe their natural shape at maturity — the snake, bottle, apple and swan gourds. Growers also master techniques that contort gourds even beyond nature’s imaginative ways.
The flexible, though fragile, young vines and fruits can be trained to bend, weave and loop as they grow. They also can be gently tied to trellises in unusual patterns or gingerly wound around braided ropes to create wavy-patterned growth.
“It takes a lot of love and time to manipulate the different shapes, but the more undulating the gourds are, the more fascinating they are,” Cavallaro said.
Artistic floral designers position dried gourds alongside traditional plant material. Structural elements, like driftwood or small branches of willow and Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick, add drama.
“Winning blue ribbons validates that gourds can take an arrangement from simplicity to magnificent,” Cavallaro said.
When Cavallaro started her journey with gourds, she initially was disappointed that they lasted only one season. Through research, she discovered how to properly dry them. “Hard-shelled gourds can last forever,” she said. “I have boxes of gourds that are 15 years old.”


The beauty and variety of gourds entice buyers to Steve Gallmeyer’s gourd and pumpkin stand in eastern Henrico.

Total drying time ranges from one to eight months, depending on the curing method and the gourd’s size. Some growers leave gourds in the field to dry over winter; others pick them after the vines have died and dry them atop outdoor trellises and pallets.
Weather, fungus and wildlife can take a toll, so indoor curing is another option.
One note of caution: Mold doesn’t necessarily indicate the gourd has rotted. Gourds have high water content, so as water exits the outer skin during the drying process, it creates moist conditions ideal for mold. Constant air circulation and storage in a low-humidity area can help reduce mold growth.

Richmonder Lu Cavallaro

Richmonder Lu Cavallaro’s award-winning gourd arrangements are inspired by the contorted shapes she discovers.

Before use, gourds should be soaked in soapy water, the mold briskly scraped off with a stainless-steel scrubber and the shell thoroughly rinsed and dried. If the inner seed membrane is removed, the seeds can be sorted out, cleaned and saved for planting.

Editor’s Note: This article first published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, in November 2014.

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

The boathouse and Lakeside Lake.

The boathouse and Lakeside Lake.

Shannon Smith is a woman with a vision.  As senior horticulturist and GardenFest coordinator at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, she gets to creatively envision how our 40 acre botanical garden will look with half a million LED lights, embodying a new theme. Each year, Dominion GardenFest of Lights is different. And each year, Smith, along with her GardenFest team, work more than a year in advance to dream what the next GardenFest of Lights will look like.  Then, they make it happen. It is a labor of love, and involves thousands of hours from many staff and volunteers.

With the Garden’s deep ties to the start of cycling in Richmond and with the World Road Cycling ChampionshipsRichmond 2015, arriving in September — cycling, and the Garden’s history were a natural fit. A Legacy in Lights: 120 Years from Bicycle Club to Botanical Garden  bridges the two in a rather fabulous way, plus helps celebrate the Garden’s 30th anniversary this year.   Many don’t know that the Garden’s historic Bloemendaal House was once the social hub for cycling in Richmond.  Ginter also had ties to many buildings in Richmond. He built the Jefferson Hotel, gave land for the building of the Union Theological Seminary, created Ginter Park, even paved Brook Road with his own funds.

“We knew we wanted to do a historic Richmond landmark theme for this year’s North Wing train display,” Shannon Smith explains.  “We tried to pick Richmond landmarks that had a tie to [the man] Lewis Ginter in some way. For example, the Commonwealth Club, it’s not a recognizable building for most people, but it is one of our great historic landmarks. It was Lewis Ginter’s membership at the Commonwealth Club and the friends he made there that made the Lakeside Wheel Club a reality. They wanted a place to ride their bikes.”

And so, the Commonwealth Club, along with the Jefferson Hotel, St. John’s Church, Hollywood Cemetery, and many other historic Richmond landmarks with ties to Lewis Ginter (or not) create the centerpiece of the display in the Conservatory this year. One of the most interesting pieces is a replica of the Lakeside Park Menagerie/Zoo, from 1896-1897, including a bear pit, monkey house and lion’s cage. Did you know that the cage for the bear pit still exists?!  Each landmark was crafted by hand from dried botanicals grown here at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.  And each building is a piece of art created by our talented horticulturists, volunteers, and other Garden staff who have a creative flair. Enjoy the photos, reading about the connection each piece has to Lewis Ginter, what botanicals each work of art is made from, and who made it. Then, come visit these beauties in person, because the photos just can’t do them justice.  The display runs November 28, 2014 – January 12, 2015 (closed December 24-25).

Commonwealth Club, 1891

Commonwealth Club, 1891


Commonwealth Club, 1891

Address: 401 W Franklin St, Richmond, VA 23220

Architect: John Merven Carrère & Thomas Hastings

The design is an early example of the Colonial Revival. The facade is unusually massed: the entrance pavilion is flanked by identical wings, but the roof and a large circular bay are asymmetrical. This free composition is more directly related to the earlier Shingle Style than to the later, tamer Colonial Revival. The materials and colors of the club–red brick, red-orange terracotta and brownstone, relate it to the Romanesque Style of the 1880’s. The Commonwealth Club is still in operation as a private club.  It is a landmark building on the 400 block of Franklin Street, itself a Virginia Landmark District.  Source:  Virginia Landmarks Register

Lewis Ginter’s connection: The Commonwealth Club was designed by the same architectural firm (Carrère & Hastings) that later built one of Lewis Ginter’s crowning achievements – The Jefferson Hotel. Lewis Ginter was a member of the Commonwealth Club and the Westmoreland Club.  His association with these gentlemen’s social clubs eventually led to the establishment of the Lakeside Wheel Club.

Model built by: Patrick O’Hagan, gardener

Primary Materials: Brick walls – Canna australius (Canna) leaves

Roof shingles – Chasmanthium latifolium (Northern Sea Oats)

Windows – Lunaria annnua (Silver Dollar)

Window lintels – Pine cone scales, various

Foundation, Building corners, Window sills, Front door trim, Plaque trim – Chrysalidocarpus lutescans Areca palm leaves

Front door – Heuchera ‘Plum Pudding’ (Coral Bells) leaves

Front door knobs, Front peak ornament – Quercus acorn cap

Side porch pillars & railings – dried poppy

Large front pillars – bamboo

Jefferson Hotel, 1895

Jefferson Hotel, 1895

Jefferson Hotel, 1895

Address: 101 W Franklin Street, Richmond, VA 23220

Architect: John Merven Carrère & Thomas Hastings

The Jefferson Hotel, completed in 1895, is a massive yet graceful structure of buff brick and stone. Typical of the work of Carrere and Hastings, it is an effective blend of many architectural forms and styles, although the exterior is composed chiefly of Italian and Spanish Renaissance elements. The four towers rising from the main block with its imposing entrances, loggia, varied window forms, and wealth of rich architectural ornament make the structure an important Richmond landmark, Although gutted by fire in 1901, the exterior, for the most part, survives as originally designed. Source:  Virginia Historic Landmarks Register

Lewis Ginter’s connection: Lewis Ginter’s determined vision to build a first-class hotel in the city of Richmond led to the creation of one of its most famous landmarks.  He worked with the architects to bring to life a grand hotel based on his experiences visiting the world’s great capitals.  He was the primary financer, principal owner, and supervised the construction of the hotel, which opened in 1895 with a glittering reception. The hotel today is a 5-star-rated attraction.

Model built by: Laurel Matthew, Garden horticulturist

Materials: External walls: bark from River Birch, Betula nigra

Brickwork: leaves from Maidenhair Tree, Ginkgo biloba

Window sills: Rough  horsetail, Equisetum hyemale

Window panes: seed pods from money plant, Lunaria annua

Roof tiles: seed heads from Golden Sea Oats, Uniola paniculata

Trim and detail work: leaves from Fan Palm, Washingtonia sp.

Spire detail: seed pods from Poppy, Papaver somniferum 


 St. John’s Church, 1741

St. John’s Church, 1741 — Did you know St. John’s Church didn’t have a steeple in 1741?

St. John’s Church, 1741

Address: 2401 E Broad St, Richmond, VA 23223

Architect: Unknown

St. John’s Church was the first church built in the city of Richmond and was completed in 1741. The graveyard is the site of the first public cemetery in Richmond. Many persons who made contributions to the history of Richmond and Virginia are buried here, such as: George Wythe, signer of the Declaration of Independence and teacher of law to Thomas Jefferson, Chief Justice John Marshall, and Henry Clay; John Page and James Wood, Governors of Virginia; Elizabeth Arnold Poe, mother of Edgar Allan Poe; and Dr. James McClurg, a Virginia delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1787.

St. John’s Church became famous when over 100 Virginia colonial leaders, including Patrick Henry, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Richard Henry Lee, and Peyton Randolph met here in March of 1775 for the Second Virginia Convention. Patrick Henry’s famous “Give me Liberty or Give me Death” speech was delivered on 23 March 1775 inside the church. Henry’s timely resolutions passed by a narrow margin and the American Revolution began the following month when shots were fired at Lexington and Concord. The church is an active ministry.  Recreations of Patrick Henry’s famous speech are held during the summer months. Source: St. John’s Church Foundation

Model built by: Lesley Madigan, Gardener

Primary Materials: Doors – Ipomoea purpurea, morning glory flower

Siding –  Chrysalidocarpus lutescans, Areca palm  leaves

Window frames – Washingtonia Robusta, Mexican Fan Palm

Trim around door and top of roof – Bamboo leaves

Windows- Luneria Annua – money plant

Church doors- Colocasia ‘Blue Hawaiian’ – elephant ears

Sign – Ipomoea purpurea , morning glory flowers

Main Street Station, 1901, foreground, Virginia War Memorial Carillion, 1932, in back.

Main Street Station, 1901, foreground, Virginia War Memorial Carillion, 1932, in back.

Main Street Station, 1901

Address: 1520 E Main Street, Richmond, VA

Architect: Henry W. Wilson, John McArthur Harris & Howard S. Richards

Main Street Station marked the crossroads for the then major north-south railroad, the Seaboard Air Line, and one of the principal east-west lines, the Chesapeake and Ohio. The design of the building was by the Philadelphia firm of Wilson, Harris and Richards. From the day it was opened, the station was regarded as one of Richmond’s most renowned buildings, as well as a prestigious ornament for the city. Architecturally, Main Street Station ranks as an excellent example of the influence of the French Ecole des Beaux Arts on American building. Source: Virginia Historic Landmarks Register

Lewis Ginter’s connection:  In 1873 Ginter become a major shareholder and director of the Richmond Locomotive & Machine Works.  Though he died in 1897, Ginter was an early adopter and developer of mass transportation, including the City of Richmond’s first trolley system.

Model built by: Debbie Guckert, Garden volunteer

Primary Materials: Walls: Betula Nigra  (River Birch) bark, Cortaderia selloana (Pampas grass – painted)

Transoms and Clock face:  Lunaria annua (Money Plant) seed pods

Clock hands: Abelmoschus (Musk Mallow) seed pods

Doors: Magnolia grandiflora ‘D.D. Blancher’ leaves—front side

Roof Shingles: Magnolia grandiflora ‘D.D. Blancher’—back side

Other ornamentation:  various seed pods and acorn caps

Virginia War Memorial Carillion, 1932

Address: 1300 Blanton Avenue, Richmond, VA 23221

Architect: Ralph Adams Cram and Frank Ferguson

Reflecting the patriotic fervor of the time, the Virginia War Memorial Carillon is the sole structure erected by the Commonwealth of Virginia to memorialize the “patriotism and valor of the soldiers, sailors, marines, and women from Virginia” who served in World War I. The concept, design and commission of the memorial were highly influenced by public opinion, and resulting political acts. Although a commission to study a design and site for the memorial was formed as early as 1922, political maneuvering and public campaigns altered the initial design and delayed its dedication until 1932. The building exhibits one of the firm’s most opulent examples of the Georgian style, which was chosen expressly because the “Commonwealth of Virginia is the Great Southern exponent of that noble Colonial architecture which has such distinction and essential American quality.” Source:  Virginia Historic Landmarks Register.

Model built by: Laura Lee Folman, Children’s Education Assistant

Primary Materials: Carillion Body: Pine Lumber Shavings and Redwood Shavings

Edging: Cortaderia selloana (Pampas Grass)

Tower Bell: Allium seed head

Base at Doorway: Bambusa oldhamii (Giant Bamboo)

Stone Carving: Uniola paniculata (Sea Oats)

Details: Tsuga Canadensis (Eastern Hemlock) cones

Nandian domestica (Heavenly Bamboo) berries

Quercus alba (White Oak) acorn caps

Lagerstroemia (Crape myrtle)

Nelumbo lutea (Yellow Lotus) seed pod

Pinus ponderosa (Ponderosa Pine) cone scales

Lilium formosanum (Formosa Lily)

Xerochrysum bracteatum (Straw Flower)

Papaver oreophilum (Poppy)

Cryptomeria seed cones

Hollywood cemetery

Hollywood Cemetery

Hollywood Cemetery, 1849

Address: 412 South Cherry Street, Richmond, VA 23220

Architect: John Notman

Originally named Mount Vernon Cemetery, Hollywood was first planned in 1847 when a group of Richmond business leaders formed a stock company to develop a “rural decorated cemetery” for their city . The charter was not approved until 1856 because so much friction has been engendered by adjoining property owners and others who feared adverse effects from the burying ground. By 1860 Hollywood Cemetery was secure in the Richmond scene and was fast becoming the principal and most fashionable burying spot of the city

The fascinating array of 19th century tombstones and memorials are an added feature of the Cemetery. Hollywood has been the scene of many interments of famous Virginians including President James Monroe. Source: The Virginia Historic Landmarks Register

Lewis Ginter’s connection: Hollywood Cemetery is the final resting place of Lewis Ginter. Ginter’s elegant and elaborate mausoleum contains three stained glass windows by the firm of Louis Comfort Tiffany .  His niece Grace Arent’s modest marker lies directly in front of her uncle Lewis’s tomb.

Model built by: Leah Purdy, Garden horticulturist

Primary Materials: Pyramid Walls: Polished stone

Grave Stones: Pinus ponderosa (Ponderosa Pine) cone scales

Child’s Grave: Hydrangea flowers

Top of Lewis Ginter’s Mausoleum: Nelumbo lutea (Yellow Lotus) seed pod


The Lakeside Wheel Club

The Lakeside Wheel Club – a reproduction of Richmond’s cycling center the late 1800s. This is the same building as Bloemendaal House — now two stories tall.

Lakeside Wheel Club, 1895

Address: LGBG Campus (1800 Lakeside Avenue, Richmond, VA 23228

Architect: W. H. Wood

Lewis Ginter’s connection:  Members of the Commonwealth Club and Westmoreland Club approached fellow member and businessman Lewis Ginter to provide a destination outside the city where “wheelmen,” or bicycle enthusiasts, could rendezvous after a good ride.  Ginter built a clubhouse on the nine acres he owned beside a lake north of town, which opened in 1895.  Lewis Ginter died in 1897.  By 1901 the bicycle craze had cooled.  Ginter’s niece Grace Arents purchased the clubhouse and 9 acres from her uncle’s estate.  The building then served as The Lakeside Sanatorium for Babies.  Later, with a second floor added and a reconfigured interior, the renamed Bloemendaal Farm served as home to Grace Arents until her death in 1926.

Model built by: George Cowart, Garden horticulturist

Materials: Roof:  Magnolia grandiflora ‘D.D. Blancher’ leaves

Siding: Washingtonia robusta (Skyduster Palm) leaves

Porch Floor: Chrysalidocarpus lutescens (Areca Palm) leaves

Chimney: Berberis thunbergii var. Atropurpurea ‘Crimpson Velvet’ (Barberry)

Window Frame: Andropogon virginicus (Broom sedge)

Window glass: Lunaria annua (Money Plant) seed pods

Porch railings and trim: Cortaderia selloana (Pampas Grass)

Ginter House, 1892

Ginter House, 1892 (Currently the VCU Provost’s Office)

Ginter House,   1892

Address: 901 W Franklin St, VA 23284

Architect: H. H. Richardson and Harvey L. Page

Built in the Romanesque Revival style, the Ginter House reflects the Victorian affinity for the natural world, but has a more masculine feel than typical period style.  Standing at the intersection of Franklin and Shafer Streets, the Ginter House effectively has two façades.  The home is three and a half stories tall and the façade is brick and brownstone with a complex gable Spanish tile roof.  The interior is decorated with art glass windows and elaborate woodwork.  Much of the décor is in the Arts and Crafts Style.  The residence cost approximately $125,000 to build, which was said to be the most expensive residence ever built in Richmond at that time.

On February 9, 1892, upon the home’s completion, Lewis Ginter threw an elaborate reception for 500 of Richmond’s most notable and well-to-do citizens.

Lewis Ginter’s connection: This mansion was built as Lewis Ginter’s primary residence.  When he died in 1897 the house was left to his niece, Grace Arents, who sold the house in 1920. In the mid-1920’s it was occupied by the Richmond Public Library and today it is owned by Virginia Commonwealth University.

Model built by: Laura Flournoy, Visitors Center Associate

Lakeside Park Menagerie/Zoo, 1896-1897: ear Pit and Lion’s Cage

Lakeside Park Menagerie/Zoo, 1896-1897: Bear Pit and Lion’s Cage

Lakeside Park Menagerie/Zoo, 1896-1897: Monkey House, Bear Pit and Lion’s Cage

Address: Lakeside Park (now Jefferson-Lakeside Country Club 1700 Lakeside Avenue, Richmond)

Lewis Ginter’s connection: Lewis Ginter financed the construction of Lakeside Park, which opened to the public on March 15, 1896.  The park included a fishing lake, a man-made island, a boathouse with rowboats and a Naphtha Launch (an early motor boat), bicycle track, café, billiards, bowling alley, hedge maze and dance hall. As one of the special features of the park, an agent of Lewis Ginter, Anton H. Theirman, traveled the globe and collected a large “menagerie” of animals.

At its height, the menagerie included crocodiles, bears, lions, wildcats, a spotted leopard, white cougars, ocelots, badgers, coyotes, wolves, eagles, a 40-foot-tall Monkey House containing over 12 monkeys, and “tame” raccoons (including one named “Jefferson” who was free to play with the guests).

In March, 1909, the animals of Lakeside Park’s Zoo were sold to other gardens around the country including the Smithsonian Institution for their zoological garden.

Models built by: Megan Compton, Adult Education Assistant

Primary Materials: Lion’s Cage –

Columns: Crepe Myrtle Bark – Lagostromia Indica, mixed pinus – pine cone scales and tips

Floor: Betula nigra – River Birch Bark

Cage Bars: Varnished Andropogon virginicus –  Broom sedge

Monkey House – Roof line: Mixed pinus – pine cone scales and tips

Monkey House

Monkey House

Columns: Varnished Andropogon virginicus –  Broom sedge

Floor: Milled Redwood Shavings

Vines: Straw–covered wire roping

 Bear Pit – Walls: Crepe Myrtle Bark – Lagostromia Indica, mixed pinus – pine cone scales and tips, Betula nigra – River Birch Bark

Cage Bars: Varnished Andropogon virginicus –  Broom sedge

Posts: Cortaderia selloana – Pampas grass

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

The Conservatory, photo by Sarah Hauser

The Conservatory, photo by Sarah Hauser

Richmond is known for its tacky lights. We’re also known for our classy lights too. Here’s a roundup of the top illumination events in Richmond this holiday season. If you really love the holidays, you’ll want attend them all! Mark your calendar, these are just around the corner. And if you don’t get enough lights at the  illumination events, remember Dominion GardenFest of Lights continues nightly 5 p.m. – 10 p.m., November 28, 2014 through January 12, 2015 (closed Dec. 24 & 25) — perfect for a holiday lights double date, or a family night out with the kids.

 Mike Steidley, a 12-time National Champion

Mike Steidley, a 12-time national champion and professional trials, freeride, and stunt rider

Dominion GardenFest of Lights Illumination, Friday, November 28, 2014: Opening night, the GardenFest Illumination is always chock full of excitement and entertainment.  This year opening night features Mike Steidley, a 12-time national champion and professional trials, freeride, and stunt rider for an action packed mountain bike stunt show! Also, the GardenKeeper, Butterfly Fairy and historic characters from the Garden’s past will be here to entertain you. Doors open at 4 p.m., Illumination ceremony at 5:30 p.m.  The opening night is a popular event, so you may want to arrive early and enjoy the Garden and displays prior to the evening activities. Everyone is invited to assemble on the Terrace Lawn in front of the Rose Garden at 5 p.m. to enjoy the stunt show and help count down to the Illumination. At 5:30 p.m. The Garden Keeper, Butterfly Fairy and a representative from NBC12 will flip the giant light switch and the Garden will be illuminated. From 6 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. Mike Steidley will perform an encore mountain bike stunt show in the Rose Garden followed by an autograph signing. Then stroll the Garden and enjoy the bike-studded Dominion GardenFest of Lights on your own. Our theme this year is A Legacy in Lights: 120 Years from Bicycle Club to Botanical Garden.    

Also, how could I NOT mention that EnergyCycleRVA will have children and adult bikes in the Azalea Room, located in the Kelly Education Center, powering our unicorn light figure! You will be able to power this 100+ strand, 9-foot tall unicorn by simply riding a bike. Fun Fact:   The Children’s Maze, relocated to the Anderson Meadow, is now 50 percent larger for even more good times.  Fun Tip: A man-in-the-moon backdrop beckons you for a one-of-a-kind photo op!

jefferson holidayThe Jefferson Hotel Grand Illumination, Monday, December 1, 2014: Always a hit with kids, and a family tradition for many, the Jefferson Hotel hosts Richmond’s biggest holiday fans for the lighting of their holiday tree. Live music starts at 5:30 p.m. and the lighting of the tree is at at 6 p.m. Also, don’t miss the parade of characters from Richmond Ballet’s Nutcracker, sing-alongs, and complimentary refreshments (traditionally hot cider, hot chocolate and homemade cookies) in the Empire Room.  Note, decorations stay up ’til January 5, 2015, so if you miss the Grand Illumination, you still have plenty of time to see them.  Tip: Don’t miss Music at Midday featuring musical talent from  local high schools in the Jefferson’s Palm Court and Rotunda during lunch hour.  Fun Fact: Did you know that Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden’s own Visitor Services Associate, Mabel Brock, also performs at this event each year with her spirit group CHEER!?

The James Center 30th Annual Grand Illumination, Friday, December 5, 2014: Richmonders gather to see their city skyline illuminated at the James Center, between 9th-12th and Cary Streets. The music and activities line-up is yet to be announced, but be sure to get their early, they flip the switch right at 6 p.m., entertainment continues until 7 p.m.

James River Parade of Lights, Saturday, December 13, 2014: Each year, boaters decorate their vessels and take to the river at dusk in a dazzling spectacle of lights. The James River Parade of Lights, which is sponsored by the James River Advisory Council, is one of the region’s most cherished holiday events. Spectators line the shorelines at several official viewing sites to take in the parade and other festive entertainment. The parade begins in Richmond, just below the fall line, and the boats cruise through Henrico and Chesterfield counties to the Varina-Enon Bridge. Time of the Parade: Boats gather at 5:45 p.m. (6 p.m. countdown for illumination). The parade lasts until about 8:30 p.m. Viewing sites (free admission): Libby Hill Park and Dock Street in the City of Richmond, Osborne Park and Boat Landing in Henrico County, Henricus Historical Park and Dutch Gap Boat Landing in Chesterfield County.   Number of viewers expected: 6,000-8,000.

Fun Fact:  In 1989, Harvey Price, then the dock master at Kingsland Reach Marina in Henrico County, decided to decorate his boat and cruise the James. Many other boaters laughed at him, but when they saw how much fun Mr. Price was having and how much people along the river appreciated his efforts, they decided to join him. In 1992, the James River Advisory Council (then called the James River Task Force) approached the boaters with the idea that the parade could be a yearly holiday event, and the official James River Parade of Lights was born.

  For more Fun Facts visit the James River Parade of Lights Fact Sheet.



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

Justin Davey Trees volunteer time to help with bike installation in ginkgo

Davey Trees volunteered to help with the bike installation in our ginkgo tree.

The Davey Tree Expert Company, Inc.  volunteered their time to help us install bikes in our ginkgo tree in front of historic Bloemendaal House last week. The bikes are wrapped in lights and will be an exciting surprise for our Dominion GardenFest of Lights visitors. We couldn’t have done it without you Davey! Thank you. Here’s a photo from Justin Brown, GardenFest Coordinator,  who helped design this year’s Dominion GardenFest of Lights theme: A Legacy in Lights: 120 Years from Bicycle Club to Botanical Garden.  Davey Trees’ support of the Garden extends beyond climbing trees. This past October the Davey Tree Expert Company sponsored the “Every Tree Tells a Story” exhibition in Ginter Gallery II as well as the Gillette Forum.

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

The ginkgo wheel from the ground level.

The ginkgo wheel from the ground level.

We’ve been having fun at the Garden this week. Maybe a little too much fun!

There are bikes hanging in trees, bike sculptures on their way, bikes in garlands and on holiday trees. There’s even a miniature version of historic Richmond landmarks made out of botanicals in the train display in the Conservatory. (That’s a whole different blog post — stay tuned!)  You can add to that — a giant yellow bike wheel on the ground  made from leaves from the ginkgo tree. If it had to guess, I’d say it’s 50 yards across. It’s that big!

bike wheel  of leaves

The view of the ephemeral art from the roof of Bloemendaal House.

Earlier this year we wrote about how Director of Horticulture Grace Chapman had challenged the horticulture team here to ‘play’ in their gardens and create something magical, even if it was only temporary. Senior horticulturist Elizabeth Fogel  took it to heart and today took it to a whole new level incorporating yellow ginkgo leaves into bike wheel design. With all the bikes in the ginkgo tree it seems fitting! If you want to see it, come soon, it will be here as long as nature allows.

The ginkgo and historic Bloemendaal House.

Bikes in trees and bike wheels out of leaves!

Bloemendaal house and ginkgo

It’s really hard to capture the beauty of this art in a photo. Come see it and you’ll know what I’m talking about.


Our executive director Shane Tippett asked the Bloemendaal House roofers to take a photo for us. They were happy to help!

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