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by Jonah Holland, PR & Marketing Coordinator, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Photos by Jonah Holland and Laurel Matthew

First Peas to the Table - Math

A teacher using math during the First Peas to Table lesson.

Did you know that Thomas Jefferson held a contest with his neighbors every spring: Who can get the first peas from the garden to the table? Earlier this month, we used this same contest to help teachers learn how to use this idea as a springboard for a cross-curricular investigation into what plants need to grow and thrive. First Peas to the Table encourages kids to observe and measure plant growth and change, the function of each plant part comes to life, in real time. And what better way to celebrate than with a culminating in a pea party!

First Peas to the Table -Design Build

Teachers building during the First Peas to the Table.

The First Peas to the Table lesson is just one of many classes taught integrating context life science and social studies during our annual Natural Connections Educators’ Conference.  We wanted to share with you some of the photos from this very fun day of learning, and also share with you some of the teacher’s feedback.

Teepee pea trellis

Kristin Mullen, Early Childhood Program Developer at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden (left) & Matt Darring, City Schoolyard Garden Coordinator at Burnly-Moran Elementary, Charlottesville Public Schools (right).

Kristin Mullen, Early Childhood Program Developer here at the Garden mentioned how she was amazed that many of the “First Peas” lesson teachers had already implemented aspects of the workshop into their teaching within one week.

pea trellis made from bike parts

Matt Darring, City Schoolyard Garden Coordinator at Burnly-Moran Elementary, Charlottesville Public Schools, showing educators that pea trellises can be made of anything!

 What was the most valuable aspect of the conference?

·       I enjoyed the hands-on activities, how the activities related to literature, and the chance to work with other educators and exchange ideas.

·       Great resources provided. We know they are out there but it is nice to have them consolidated and the support of the Department of Education.

·       The First Peas to the Table workshop was AMAZING! I already have our two 4th grade classes doing the project in our raised beds at Crestview.

Of the activities presented, which ones are you most likely to implement:

·       I have already planted peas seeds in my classroom and made garden journals.

·       I plan on doing a center-based learning experience with first grade students using the examination of compost, the shelling and estimation of peas, and possibly the designing of the trellis. I will also use the book as well.

·       I went to the store the day of the conference so that on Thursday they could plant carrots and radishes. They will record the progress of their plants in their “journals”.

Having attended the conference, do you feel more confident teaching the content of your strand?

·       Yes, this experience made the science come to life and simplified for me the steps needed to produce a similar experience for my students.

·       It was great to get the hands on experience with building the trellises. I am already an avid gardener and very knowledgeable about planting.

·       Yes. Science tends to be my weakest area, but I was reminded to have fun with it.

·       Yes. I plant with the children each year. I also keep a journal (of their whole year, Sept-May) But I can take the planting process a few steps further…measuring, drawing.

Based on your experience today, are you more likely to use an interdisciplinary approach to teaching?

·       Absolutely. Gave them a preview, at Circle Time, of next week. Talked about Thomas Jefferson and how he relates to our upcoming gardening experience. Some approaches have been so obvious to me….math, science, physical fitness/healthy choices, etc. Never thought of “drawing in” history!

In Summary:

·       The information and ideas were relevant and easily replicated. I would like more interdisciplinary strands like this which offer a very authentic, relevant way for students to learn, create, and become more informed citizens. I truly loved this day!

 Complete

Pea trellis made from recycled bike wheels during the First Peas to the Table design build.

Free Trees!

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

Don’t miss this free tree seedling giveaway for Henrico County residents. They’ve got a few of our favorites — apple, Kousa dogwood, red maple, river birch, red osier dogwood, redbud, white dogwood and more. Thank you to Henricopolis Soil and Water Conservation District for providing this wonderful opportunity. Details: http://bit.ly/FREEtrees
Free Tree Seedling giveaway flier

by Laura Schumm, Community Kitchen Garden Horticulturist, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

The volunteer work crew from VCU

The volunteer work crew from VCU

Spring is here, and it has  been a very busy week in the Community Kitchen Garden. This past Saturday, a group of student volunteers from Virginia Commonwealth University and several Lewis Ginter volunteers worked cutting back ornamental grasses around the Conservatory, planting early spring vegetables, and preparing a site for growing hops!

Planting Hops for Center of the Universe beer

Planting Hops for Center of the Universe beer behind the Conservatory.

On Monday a crew from Center of the Universe Brewing Co. and Piedmont Hops, LLC. stopped by with twice recycled bourbon-beer barrels and hop rhizomes. They started installing the beginnings of the structure that will support our 20 new Cascade hop plants.  The first flowers should appear this fall.

Planting lettuce seedlings

VCU students planting lettuce seedlings in the Community Kitchen Garden benefiting FeedMore.

Later in the week, a volunteer group from Genworth Financial braved chilly temperatures to plant more vegetables, put together a cold frame, and create planting beds under the new hop structure where we will experiment growing in light shade. Genworth has supplied us with many great volunteers over the last several years.

Volunteers planting red Russian Kale. Luckily it is frost hardy and doesn't mind the freezing temperatures predicted for tonight.

Volunteers planting red Russian Kale. Luckily it is frost hardy and doesn’t mind the freezing temperatures predicted for tonight.

Genworth volunteers in the Community Kitchen Garden

Laura Schumm, Community Kitchen Garden Horticulturist (left), with Genworth volunteers in the Community Kitchen Garden

This is my favorite time of the year, and with the help of these volunteers, this season is getting off to a great start!

Butterflies LIVE! returns April 17th Photo by Don Williamson
Learn More about Butterflies LIVE!  ….coming April 17 – Oct. 11, 2015.

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

okame and conservatory christine watson

Prunus campanulata ‘Okame,’ Lake Sydnor and the Conservatory. photo by Christine Watson

We promised you we’d let you know when the Cherry Tree Walk was budding up and starting to bloom and it’s well on its way! As we mentioned earlier, it’s really a guess as to when the peak bloom time will be but some varieties (Prunus campanulata ‘Okame’ and Prunus mume ‘Kobai’ as you can see in the photos) have already started blooming! This weekend and next weekend (Easter Weekend)  you’ll see some prime blooms. Please keep in mind that since many of the trees are still getting established, blooms will be lighter this year than next.

Prunus campanulata 'Okame,' Lake Sydnor and the Conservatory. photo by Christine Watson

Prunus campanulata ‘Okame’ blooms. photo by Christine Watson

Prunus mume 'Kobai along the new Cherry Tree Walk. Photo by Christine Watson

Prunus mume ‘Kobai’ along the new Cherry Tree Walk. Photo by Christine Watson’

 

On Being Second

by Executive Director, Shane Tippett, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Conservatory by don williamson

This time last year, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden was fortunate to be included in a month-long, on-line “10 Best Public Garden” survey sponsored by USA Today and 10Best. Our friends and neighbors who participated in the polling checked in when it was all said and done, asking, “How did the Garden do?”
“We finished second, thank you!” Then other questions came: “Who was first?” (First went to Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA, a truly remarkable place, well worth a visit.) The next question: “How do we become first?”I don’t have an answer for that, because I don’t think it is the right question.

Being a top ten botanical garden was a strategic goal of the Garden in the 1990s. It was bold and ambitious, staking a flag in the ground at a time when, compared to Longwood, pretty much all we had was a flag and some ground to stake it in. Yet it became a call to action for our community to support the expansion of their community garden, a place that resonated with the people of Richmond because we were becoming the garden they wanted and deserved. Being top ten is not in the strategic plan we have followed since 2009, and I think it is because we recognized that our focus should stay where it has always been: on being second.

We strive to be second to our community, our visitors and our members. We want you to be first in our thinking and in our actions. We hope to place ourselves second to the aspirations of our neighbors, offering our commitment to others as the starting point for all we hope to do. We strive to be second to our mission and the planet, checking our egos at the door, striving to take responsible actions and teach in ways that strengthen the vital relationship between people and plants – things that will allow the relationship among people and plants to thrive.

While being number one is not in our strategic plan today, this core value is: “Hospitality: Welcome diverse communities as visitors, members, volunteers and staff.” When we think of being second to our community, to striving to have our visitors, members, volunteers and staff reflect our community, it is in response to the core value of hospitality. And by “welcome,” we mean “embrace and celebrate.” We embrace and celebrate all in our community because we respect and value all in our community, as we respect and value the plant world.

Text and photos by Jonah Holland,  Public Relations & Marketing Coordinator, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
Cherry Blossoms  and Cherry Tree Walk

Have you ever been issued a “save the date” card without an actual date? Seems silly I suppose, but with our new Cherry Tree Walk blooming for the first time this year, we are gearing up for a very exciting spring. Trouble is, no one can predict exactly when they will bloom. Predicting the bloom time for Washington, D.C.’s National Cherry Blossom Festival around the Tidal Basin has become a focus “Bloom Watch,” set up by the National Park Service.  They are predicting 2015 peak bloom dates as April 11 – 14, 2015. Traditionally we are about a week to 10 days earlier. So possibly, maybe, (yes we are totally guessing) ours might peak around April 3-4.

I can’t think of anyone who takes the cherry blossoms more seriously than the National Park Service. In addition to the horticulturists who monitor the trees’s buds during this time period, they have a fascinating informational page with detailed pictures from green color in buds to peduncle elongation to “puffy white” bud descriptions. But we take our cherry blossoms seriously too! The trees around the Tidal basin in D.C. are mostly Yoshino (Prunus x yedoensis) but they also have Kwanzan, now called Prunus ‘Kanzan’.

Our Cherry Tree Walk, on the other hand has a wide variety of specimens (even including some ornamental plums and edible fruiting cherry trees) in order to add variety and to extend the bloom time as much as possible.  Director of Horticulture Grace Chapman also added some rare Prunus specimens from the  U. S. National Arboretum as well. So stay tuned to our Facebook page, our Instagram photos and this blog. We’ll be keeping you posted on cherry blossom bloom time as much as we can, but also, pencil in a trip to the Garden the week of April 1st – April 12th. You won’t want to miss our inaugural Cherry Tree Walk bloom.  Come to think of it, April 4-5 is Easter Weekend with Peter Rabbit, so why not make a weekend of it, have Easter Brunch, do some shopping, and make this a weekend to remember.

Update: One of our readers was kind enough to point me in the direction of a full list of cherry trees in the National Park Service collection including the Tidal Basin, East Potomac Park, Washington Monument, and other D.C. parks. Turns out that while most of them are Yoshino or Kanzan, they also have quite a few other varieties including more varieties than I could list here.  Check out the link if you are curious! 

Cherry Blossoms and the Conservatory

 

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

Narcissus 'Rijnveld's Early Sensation' blooming in Flagler Garden.

Narcissus ‘Rijnveld’s Early Sensation’

Narcissus ‘Rijnveld’s Early Sensation’ is our first daffodil to bloom each year. It made it through last week’s ice and snow storm just fine. Spring starts in 9 days, not that we are counting!

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

Leaf cut art moving installation by Hillary Waters

Leaf cut art moving installation by Hillary Waters

Walking down the hall in the Kelly Education Center yesterday, I couldn’t help but notice a very lovely art exhibit going up at Ginter Gallery II. The first thing that struck me was the movement. My walking stirred the air and in turn rippled across an installation of tiny leaves. I almost thought the leaves were butterfly wings.  Upon closer inspection I was amazed to see each one had been carefully cut, dried and pinned to the wall with a hand-made hanger.  The art flowed like a mobile on a wall.  Some of the leaves resembled crab shells, others resembled seashells.

Happily, the artist, Hillary Waters was still hanging the show when I walked by and I got to ask her the question I was most interested in learning: What kind of leaves did she use? Ligustrum was her reply. It’s a very simple shrub, with very plain, but sturdy leaves, which makes it perfect for a project like this. You might also know it as privet.

I filmed a movie for you of the movement, but trust me, this is one art show you’ll want to visit in person. To get a sense of the movement you can watch the video below. Hillary Waters is a graduate student in the Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts. 

Arboreal: Recent Works by Hillary Waters  March 7 – May 10, 2015

Daylight savings time reminder
Daylight Saving Time begins at 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 8, 2015.

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