Feed on

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

Rachel Robbins, butterfly whisperer, rounding up butterflies with her hands!

Rachel Robbins, butterfly whisperer, rounding up butterflies with her hands!

One of the most common questions we get is what do we do with the butterflies after the Butterflies LIVE! exhibit ends. Monday we had a “butterfly round-up” in the Conservatory as we chased down butterflies in butterfly nets & got them ready for their trip to Tucson Botanical Garden’s Butterfly Magic exhibit. First we used a bit of water to coax them to where we could reach them with nets, then we collected them in butterfly carriers. Finally  we pack them in boxes in a Styrofoam cooler with ice packs so that they slow down and go into a sleep-like state for the trip. Then we ship them overnight.

Annie Raup, Lead Butterfly Curator said they spent from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. rounding up the butterflies.  In total, we sent 194 butterflies and 36 chrysalides to Tucson. Stay tuned, we hope to post photos of those butterflies in their new home soon!

Rachel Robbins & butterfly

Rachel’s got the net ready, but this one (top of frame) got away.

The team with their nets.

Rounding up butterflies is not as easy as it looks.

Alex with a butterfly

Can you tell Alex Studd-Sojka loves her job as butterfly curator?

Butterfly curators working to round up the butterflies.

Butterfly curators Rachel Robbins & Annie Raup rounding-up the butterflies.

I made a 10-second Instagram / YouTube video of the process too. Check it out!

by Kate Pyle, PR & Marketing Intern, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Cornus angustata 'Elsbry' Empress of China™ Dogwood

Cornus angustata ‘Elsbry’ Empress of China™ Dogwood

Did you know that fall is a great time to plant bulbs, trees, shrubs, and perennials? I’ll be honest with you, I did not. The most experience I have with gardening is the little avocado tree (or Persea americana) I planted from the pit of an avocado after I made guacamole. As the new PR & Marketing Intern at the Garden I am excited about the opportunities to learn more about my studies as well as plants.

The Garden staff is busy at work; donations from Southern Living Plants Collection  are being planted throughout the property, as well as bulbs, native grasses, and shrubs. Planting in the fall is very beneficial, not only to the plant itself but to the environment. Roots act as natural water filters and, as they absorb rain water, they help decrease pollutants. Storm water can carry pollutants to streams, rivers, and even the Chesapeake Bay. The cooler temperatures in the fall, along with increased rainfall, make for great conditions for roots to develop, giving the plant a better chance at survival come the heat and humidity of summer months. For some fall planting tips, check out Southern Living’s Fall Planting Guide.

Carex oshimensis 'Everillo'

Carex oshimensis ‘Everillo’

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) partnered with the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, the Central Virginia Nursery and Landscape Association, the Green Industry Council and the James River Association to support this important initiative and encourage Virginians to add plants to their home and community landscapes this month.   Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe endorsed this early this month when he declared October is “Fall is for planting” month.

Take a look at just a few of these beautiful Southern Living plants. You’ll find them throughout the Garden, along Lake Sydnor, in the new triangular bed above the Lotus Bridge, and in Flagler Garden. Please note that these images are not from Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, but have been sourced from Southern Living Plants Collection because ours are not yet in bloom. Visit us come spring to see these beauties in action!

Azalea Solar Flare™ Sunbow®

Azalea Solar Flare™ Sunbow®

Azalea Solar Glow™ Sunbow®

Azalea Solar Glow™ Sunbow®

Bye-bye Butterfly!

blue butterfly -- Doris Longwing

A Doris longwing butterfly on Anthurium.

Bye-bye Butterfly!

Today is the last chance to see these guys ’til next year . Look for Butterflies LIVE! to return in April of 2015.

Photo by Don Williamson Photography

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

by Phyllis Laslett, Adult Education CoordinatorLewis Ginter Botanical Garden

girl working on fairy houses at the state fair of virginia

Sometimes, you don’t even need plants.

fairy house with moss

One of the fairy houses — this one was designed by Beth Burrell.

After the Garden was contacted by the State Fair of Virginia to provide a fairy garden demonstration, intrepid volunteer Barb Sawyer and her Hanover Master Gardener cohorts leapt into action.  Last week, with containers made by the Ginter Geezers, potting soil, small plants, tiny furniture, rocks and other accessories, cuteness ensued for about 185 people — including 65 children. The demonstrations were repeated over a 4-hour period.  Watch for more family-oriented fairy house garden workshops this spring.

literature and gourds

The State Fair contacted us earlier in the summer about presenting demos on making fairy gardens—a class we offered earlier in the summer.  Barb Sawyer jumped in to make this happen, and a lot of cuteness has ensued.

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

The roses are going crazy with blooms, just in time for this weekend’s Rose Fest.

We hope you can join us!  Aside from thousands of blooming roses, we also will have some great special activities. Saturday join Capitol Opera Richmond in the Rose Garden

'Earth Song' rose

Rosa ‘Earth Song’

Performances will be from 12:15 p.m. – 1 p.m. & 1:45 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. and include:

From the Legend of Sleepy Hollow,

An Original Baroque Pastiche

Ichabod’s aria-Cavalli, Le Pelizie Contente, 4.21- Erin Wind

Katrina’s aria-p, 4.38- Jessica Wakelyn

Townspeople Chorus – Ensemble

Die Fledermaus

no4 trio-Rosealinda, Adele, Eisentsein- 4.20- William Dameron/Fran Ahern Coleman, Karine Marshall

Adele aria 4.20- Fran Ahern Coleman

Act One Finale- William Dameron, Frank Reid, Karine Marshall

Orlofsky’s aria- Erin Wind

Champagne Finale- 9.15- Ensemble


Fairy chorus- Tripping Hither/tither -4.15- All women- Becky Hopkins, and Erin Wind solos

Love un requited robs me from my rest-baritone aria-Lord Chancellor- 4.00- Frank Reid

Soon as we may,off and away- 4.00- finale chorus and solos-Jessica Wakelyn, William Dameron

 At Rose Fest on Sunday, October 12,   join the Latin Ballet of Virginia in the Rose Garden  for “Fiesta del Sol” (Party of the Sun): Celebrating the Beauty of our Planet

The choreography of “Fiesta del Sol” combines contemporary dance, authentic flamenco form, ritual dances from the Amazon and the Caribbean regions dance techniques.

Performances will be from 12:15 p.m. – 1 p.m. & 1:45 p.m. – 2:30 p.m..

Performers: Francisco Mesa “El Nano”, Ana Ines King, Adelle Barrow, Roberto Whitaker, Jay Williams and Monte Alfonso Jones

Also, This is the Last Weekend for Butterflies LIVE!

Experience the wonderful world of butterflies! Tropical beauties, fascinating and showy, transform the Conservatory’s North Wing into a wonderland of

vibrant colors…captivating sights…and extraordinary discoveries.

Throughout October: October Oddities in the Children’s Garden

During the month of October, refresh your family’s “Garden Spirit”, through seasonal displays in the Children’s Garden, activities and special events that explore the weird, wacky and wonders of nature!

Daily activity: Gourd Quest: Families search for different varieties of gourds and pumpkins, including Mini White Boo Pumpkin, Peanut Pumpkin and Apple Gourd.

Also on Saturday we’ll have special activities in the Children’s Garden from noon to 3 p.m.

Umami Tea
Sabrina Walters, owner of Umami Tea, will be providing herbal tea tastings. She will also have items available for purchase while supplies last.

Honey Tastings and Bee Observations
A member from Rockwood Backyard Beekeepers will be on hand providing honey tastings and talking about the importance of pollinators.

Natural Plant Dyes
Children’s Garden volunteer, Judith Towers, will be showing the magic of plant dyes. Samples of dyed material as well as example of solar dying will be displayed.

Owlcraft Healing Ways
Suzanna Stone will be showing the many uses of wild plants.

Hoop dancers
A member from RVA Hoop Lovers will be inviting kids young and old to hoop it up.

by Kristin Mullen, Children’s Garden Educator, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Epiphany Preschool teachers stitching together nesting bags. Teamwork!

Epiphany Preschool teachers putting final touches on their nesting bags. Teamwork!

It’s not uncommon for the Children’s Garden to request donations for items that might otherwise get tossed in the trash – toilet paper rolls, egg cartons, and hot chocolate containers are some of our staples. Our young guests transform these under-appreciated items into treasures such as fanciful works of art, trusty binoculars for exploring the Garden, and woodland drums used to tame the wild beasts.

Last winter we put out a new request: clementine crates! The original idea was utilitarian – we needed them for our spring Young Buds programs as a convenient way to send preschool projects safely back to school. But what we got was so much more! Thanks to our staff and volunteers, we had stacks and stacks of crates stashed in all the nooks and crannies of the Children’s Garden – way more than we needed for Young Buds. So, we got creative!

child with crate garden

Peter Rabbit inspired clementine crate gardens for the summer campers!

After harvesting and tasting vegetables in the Farm Garden, the 4- and 5-year-olds in our Garden Critters Green Adventures Summer Camp were inspired to plant their very own “Peter Rabbit’s Garden.” They painted the clementine crates, filled them with soil, carefully planted carrot, lettuce, and radish seeds, and watered them every day during camp. By the end of the week, they were so excited to show their families the small sprouts in their gardens.

And recently, I worked with the teachers at Epiphany Preschool in Vienna, Virginia, to demonstrate how they could maximize their schoolyard for experiential learning. As you might guess, I couldn’t help but turn to the clementine crates for inspiration. We used the orange mesh that covers the top of the crates to create nesting bags. The preschoolers will practice fine motor skills while sewing the bags, invite birds to the schoolyard by providing nesting materials in the spring, and learn about reusing and recycling at the same time.

So, what other amazing things can we do with a clementine crate? Send us your ideas and stay tuned to see what 2015 brings!

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

lacewing butterfly

The top of the Leopard Lacewing butterfly (Cethosia cyane).


It’s hard to capture both top and bottom of the wings in one shot. But here’s my attempt.

outside of a Leopard Lacewing butterfly

And here’s the Leopard Lacewing with wings closed.

Which side do you like best?

Don’t forget — last chance to see Butterflies LIVE!  The exhibit closes on Sunday (Oct. 12, 2014).


by Richard Frailing, Assistant Butterfly Curator, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

profile of a butterfly in the Conservatory.

So this is how a butterfly sees!

So this is how a butterfly sees!

When I tell people my job, that I work in a butterfly exhibit at the Lewis Ginter and my official title is “Assistant Butterfly Curator,” it is always with a sly smile. I know how it sounds. I know that if I imagined what Assistant Butterfly Curator meant without knowing, I would imagine a cross between Johnny Appleseed and a Zen guru walking from plant to plant, gathering butterflies and whispering to them before setting them into the air. The reality, of course, is that it is a job like any other. There are magical, whimsical moments, but there is also routine, protocol, down time, and slow days. Some days can be draining (especially when it’s hot),  or even a bit stressful, just like any other job.  Butterfly curators also have to have to play the role of “butterfly bodyguard,”  telling people not to touch  the butterflies.

There is a lot to learn from the butterflies — there is a lot to teach. Even in this exhibit where most people come to enjoy the beauty, there is a great responsibility to help people understand the deeper meaning that these  majestic creatures have in our ecosystem as pollinators.


Butterflies and moths are the second most important pollinator behind bees and thus are inexpressibly important to the natural order.  Pollinators are responsible for pollinating 75 percent of the world’s flowering plants. Without pollination there would be no reproduction among many species of flowering plants, or fruit, and the natural order would seize up like an un-greased engine.

mist in the conservatory

Mist in the Conservatory

My hope  is that our exhibit inspires you to gain a deeper appreciation for  butterflies and their relationship with plants — this is the essence of what the exhibit is all about. My hope is visitors will become aware of the immense complexity of Lepidoptera behavior and how this behavior is integral to their relations with the natural world. Central to their relationship with the ecosystems that support and are supported by Lepidoptera is their symbiotic relationship with plants, the outcome of which is pollination,  one of the most foundational mechanisms in nature.

Education is our mission here at the Garden, and education is central to  efforts to conserve the natural world. If we are able to move beyond the perspective of Lepidoptera being just a beautiful creature and into a place of dignity and profound worth, this changes our relation to them. If we can have this empathy for the smallest creatures  this empathy has the power to radiate outward and change our outlook on the natural world, giving greater sympathy for larger ecological concerns.



Sunshine & sillouttes

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

group shot

Genworth staff with the 109 pounds of veggies they harvested.


Working hard delivering mulch.

Huge thanks to Genworth employees who harvested 109 lbs. of tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and butternut squash from the Community Kitchen Garden at Lewis Ginter last week.  These fresh veggies will go to children and seniors in FeedMore’s Kid’s Cafe & Meals on Wheels programs. This team was so enthusiastic, they also cleared planting beds and mulched. I even think they had fun! Thank you.

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