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

national volunteer week  volunteers

Just a handful of the Garden’s dedicated 500+ volunteers.

Happy National Volunteer Week! Here at the Garden, we’re celebrating our volunteers as often as we can. After all, there would be no Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden without them.  Less than 2 weeks ago, you  may have read about our annual volunteer banquet as we celebrated Julie Abbott,  this year’s recipient of the Lifetime Volunteer Achievement award.   This morning and nearly every morning as I walk to my office, I see many, many, volunteers at  gardening side-by-side with our staff working to make this Garden as beautiful as it can be.  So if you see a volunteer as you walk thought the Garden (their lanyard nametag is a good hint that you’ve found one!) be sure to say thank you.
And volunteers, if you are reading along —  please know that we appreciate you, and we are grateful for your help in making this the best Garden it can be. Thank you!

by Janet Woody, Librarian, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden Sweet Bay Magnolia Magnolia virginiana

council on botanical libraries logo

Council on Botanical and Horticultural Libraries celebrates Moonlight and Magnolias at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is hosting 50 librarians from all over the United States and Canada for the annual meeting of the Council on Botanical and Horticultural Libraries. The conference dates are April 29-May 3 and our theme is Moonlight and Magnolias: A Celebration of Southern Gardens. Highlights include an entire day spent at Lewis Ginter on Wednesday, plus tours of Maymont, the State Capitol, and the Kent-Valentine House. If time allows we will drop in at the Lewis Ginter-built grand Jefferson Hotel Richmond, and we hope to see the Gillette Garden at the Governor’s Mansion. Topics for discussion and learning include the Biodiversity Heritage Library, with presenter Bianca Crowley, and the collections of the Archives of American Gardens (part of the Smithsonian Institution) with Cindy Brown. Members will present on a variety of topics pertaining to current events in their own libraries. While at Maymont, Director of Horticulture Peggy Singlemann will tell us how Major and Mrs. Dooley created one of the most popular destinations in Richmond. At the Library of Virginia we will view the Flora of Virginia exhibit and explore a tiny portion their vast collections. There is time for fun too as we will get dropped off in Carytown with a restaurant map so everyone can seek out his or her food of choice. Our keynote speaker on Wednesday morning is Frank Robinson, our own CEO and chief Garden storyteller, and our banquet speaker on Friday night is Dean Norton, Director of Horticulture at George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Some members will elect to take a tour of Colonial Williamsburg on Saturday, or stay in town for a tour of Richmond historic locations.

Fifty attendees will come to Richmond from gardens and academic institutions all over the country. Starting on the west coast, we will have visitors from the University of Washington Botanic Gardens, University of California Berkeley Jepson Flora Project, San Francisco Botanical Garden Society, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, University of California Santa Barbara Cheadle Center for Biodiversity and Ecological Restoration, University of California Davis Shields Library, and the Los Angeles Arboretum and Botanic Garden. Moving east, we have visitors from the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix and the University of Colorado Denver Auraria Library. From the center of the country, we have representatives from Seed Savers Exchange in Iowa, the University of Minnesota Anderson Horticulture Library, Michigan State University Library, Missouri Botanical Garden, Chicago Botanic Garden, and the Morton Arboretum in Illinois. Our southernmost representative hails from the University of Southern Mississippi Library. Guests from a little closer to home include the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation at Carnegie Mellon University, and from Ohio we have visitors from Cleveland Botanical Garden, the Holden Arboretum, and the Lloyd Library and Museum in Cincinnati. From eastern PA we have a representative from the award winning Longwood Gardens Library, and from Delaware, Mt. Cuba Center. Massachusetts is sending representatives from Harvard’s Botany Library, the Arnold Arboretum, and the Tower Hill Botanical Garden. New York is sending neighbors from the New York Botanical Garden and Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Very close to home we have attendees from the Smithsonian’s Botany Horticulture Library and the Archives of American Gardens and from the US National Arboretum. And from Canada, we are excited to have a representative from Montreal Botanic Garden.
We will have learning opportunities, time to network and conduct business meetings and do committee work, and we will have fun seeing all the beautiful sights of a Richmond spring. And contrary to popular myth, librarians aren’t quiet and hardly ever shush anyone. So be on the lookout for a rowdy bunch of librarians painting the town tasteful and subdued shades of red during Historic Garden Week.

by Phyllis Laslett, Adult Education CoordinatorLewis Ginter Botanical Garden

ceramic Patrick O'Hara sculpture

A Patrick O’Hara sculpture, now on display in the Lora Robins Library.

It seems that botanical art is everywhere this very welcome spring.  Right now at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden we have two exhibits that explore the ways that artists connect with the natural world:  in Ginter Gallery II in the Education and Library Complex, we are hosting an exhibit of work by botanical art certificate holders, students, and instructors  and  a nature journaling exhibit in the Lora M. Robins Library shows illustrated journals by Susie Kowalik, artist and journalist, and others.  Elsewhere in Richmond,  visit the Library of Virginia, where an exhibit on the newly published Flora of Virginia examines the role of plant collecting, recording, and illustrating in understanding the botanical ‘footprint’ of a place.  Two of the Garden’s Patrick O’Hara porcelains of native Virginia plants and insects are included.  On April 12, meet some of the artists whose work is included in American Botanical Paintings: Native Plants of the Mid-Atlantic.  Fourteen of the 43 artists included in the book are from Virginia, and five are certificate holders, students, or instructors in the Garden’s botanical illustration program.  Some of the artists will be in the Lora M. Robins Library from 1 – 3 pm , April 12 to sign copies of the book.  While blooms are bursting outside, you can enjoy them inside, too.

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

Margaret Ford

Daffodil enthusiast Margaret Ford

Margaret Ford is on a mission. She wants to insure future generations love daffodils as much as she does. A long-time, active member of the Virginia Daffodil Society, Margaret is a driving force behind the Junior Artistic Arrangement Show. As part of that effort, more than 20 Girl Scouts in fourth and fifth grade came together this year for a workshop the afternoon before the Annual Virginia Daffodil Society Show at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.

Room full of Girl Scouts

Girl Scouts working on their arrangements


I was fortunate to be present as a Garden employee and a mom of one of the Scouts. The room was a sea of green and gold as the girls learned about daffodils and some basics of floral design. Margaret moved from table to table, handing out bunches of blooms like a daffodil fairy godmother.

Girl arranging

The Virginia Daffodil Society supplied daffodils for the workshop

The Scouts immediately set to work, using pencils to make holes in the oasis foam for the daffodils’ tender stalks. They mixed and matched branches, greens and other plant material gathered from home gardens. Some embellished arrangements using colorful, curled pipe cleaners.

At the end of the workshop, the finished baskets were lined up on the stage in the Garden’s auditorium. Seen this way, the creativity and diversity of each one was evident. Margaret took the time to photograph every girl with her respective arrangement, pausing to offer compliments.

Hands arranging

Each arrangement showed creativity and diversity


Driving home, I asked my daughter if she had enjoyed herself and what she had learned. “It was fun,” she said. “I learned there are eleven different classifications of daffodils.” I was impressed.

girl  with flower behind ear and arrangement.

The girls began to explore other uses for daffodils!


Each girl will receive a Girl Scout patch for her efforts. And if Margaret has her way, they’ll have something much more — a life-long love of daffodils.


You can see the Junior Artistic Arrangement Show at the Virginia Daffodil Society Show on Saturday, April 5, 2014,  from 2 – 5 p.m. and Sunday, April 6, 2014, from 10 a.m. – 3:45 p.m. at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. The show is included with regular Garden admission.


Daffodil on table

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

Cherry Blossoms

Pictured Yoshino cherry (Prunus × yedoensis) during peak bloom in front of the Conservatory.



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

2nd best  USAtoday garden 2nd best  USAtoday garden USAToday's 10Best Readers' Choice 2nd Best Public Garden in North America.Wow! With your help we were just named USAToday Travel’s 10Best Readers’ Choice 2nd Best Public Garden in North America. Thank you!

The 2nd Best Garden in North America

Libby McMillan, Content Manager and Senior Editor for USA Today, wouldn’t reveal the number of votes the Garden received, but says: “I will tell you you’ve run a very impressive campaign!….This has been the second most popular contest in the history of Readers’ Choice, so a top ten finish is REALLY saying something! America loves its gardens more than any of us knew. ”

Congratulations to Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, who came in first place and  The Butchart Gardens in British Colombia, Canada, who came in third. Want more? Here’s the full list of the Top 10 North American Gardens chosen by the readers of USA Today and 10Best. 

April Fools!

Lake-Front Condos at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Love gardens but hate the work? Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden has a deal for you! Construction plans for the Cherry Tree Walk around Lake Sydnor have been expanded to include “The Lofts at Lewis Ginter” — a limited number of waterfront condos available for purchase inside the Garden. Imagine picking your own fresh bouquets daily and inviting friends over for barbecue and horseshoes after Flowers After 5. You’ll never have to miss another season of beauty again! The Garden’s decision to enter the real estate market came as a result of the popularity of the recent USA Today 10 Best Public Gardens contest. “We realized we should be capitalizing on our unique assets,” Garden officials said. With a deal like this, they are sure to sell quickly! Act now, offer ends April 1!

Garden Volunteer Julie Abbott

Garden volunteer and Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Julie Abbott, right, with volunteer Sharon Francisco, left .

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

Volunteer Don Ziegler, Teresa Bettino  and Shane Tippett

Volunteer of the Month, Don Ziegler, left, with winner of the potting bench raffle, Teresa Bettino, and Garden Executive Director, Shane Tippett, right.

This week Garden staff gathered to honor our 500+ volunteers. Five-hundred PLUS! That’s alot of volunteers you say? Yes it is.  And our volunteers are some of the most hardworking, dedicated helpful people you’ll find.  This morning, as I walked through the Garden on my way to the office I was freezing and chiding myself for not dressing warmly enough for the short walk.  But really no matter what I had put on I would have been cold! Did I mention that it was 25 degrees — not counting the wind chill.  Then I met Elizabeth, one of our many volunteers. Elizabeth was on her way to her weekly work group sessions in the Grace Arents Garden. Did I mention these volunteers were working outside! All morning.  That is dedication!

So, as you can see, all of our volunteers are special. But last night we honored one very special volunteer, Julie Abbott, for her lifetime volunteer achievement at the Garden. Longtime Garden volunteer Sharon Francisco, presented the award along with these highlights: Julie Abbott has been a garden volunteer for 29 years. In 1994 she added  weeding, planting, and washing pots to her tasks. She’s helped with everything from floral design to mass mailings.  She worked the first plant sale and has worked every spring and fall sale since! She’s a member of the plant sale committee, recruits and schedules volunteers to staff the Master Gardener cart, and helps with plant selection. Julie Abbott was was one of the original Garden Shop volunteers when it was located in the Bloemendaal House and continues to volunteer in our current Garden Shop. She promotes the Garden at the Piedmont Federation of Garden Clubs, distributing flyers and writing articles. We are honored to present Julie Abbott with the Garden’s  Lifetime Achievement Award.

Julie Abbott

Volunteer Julie Abbott showing her fun side.

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

Ginter 'Spicy White'

Magnolia Ginter ‘Spicy White’

You’ve been hearing about the fabulous Magnolia ‘Ginter Spicy White’ for a few years now. It’s a wonderful tree, created by one of our volunteers, Bill Smith, our resident magnolia hybridist. Described as a cross between Magnolia Tripetala ‘Bloomfield’ and Magnolia ‘R20-1′ (Magnolia sieboldii x M. ashei)  the blooms have a lemony-mint fragrance (hence the spicy). The tree was named in honor of Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden and we are honored.

Smith has devoted the last 15+ years to creating, evaluating and distributing new and improved magnolia species for Virginia gardens — and this is the payoff: Ginter ‘Spicy White’ is now available for purchase to the public at Rare Find Nursery.  Unfortunately, this year the magnolia test bed where ‘Spicy White’ is located won’t be accessible to the public during bloom time because it is  in the construction zone for our new Cherry Tree Walk.   We’ll be sure to let you know when it’s blooming next year!


by Paula Blair Dabbs, Volunteer, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Gingko biloba Magyar credit Judith Towers

Gingko biloba ‘Magyar’ by botanical illustration certificate holder & garden volunteer Judith Towers

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is more than flowers – much more. If you are planning to visit this spring, be sure to stop into the Ginter Gallery II in the Education and Library Complex for the Joint Invitational Exhibit: Recent Work by Instructors and Students. This year’s exhibit features the work of students, graduates, and instructors in the botanical illustration certificate program and ‘Art in the Garden’ series. The selection and treatment of the subject matter is as varied as nature itself. Media include traditional botanical illustration and other media, including fiber, mixed media, and more.

pomegranate by lorraine brevig

Pomegranate by student Lorraine Brevig

The 2014 show runs through April 20, Easter Sunday. Whether the weather is warm and sunny or still has a bit of winter, there’s always something interesting to see in the garden.

Do you have an interest in learning botanical illustration or painting? Check out the summer course guide publishing April 2 in Style Weekly, classes and registration will be updated on our website in the coming weeks.

For a full listing of the Garden’s art classes, please visit our website.

Japanese Blood Grass by Hazel Buys

Japanese Blood Grass by instructor Hazel Buys

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