Feed on

by Shane Tippett, Executive Director, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden  

The Children's Garden Staff, left to right, Kristi Orcutt, Katelyn Coyle, Kelly Riley, Kristin Mullens, Heather Veneziano (sitting) Nicki,  and Dawn Lipscomb.

The Children’s Garden Staff, left to right, Kristi Orcutt, Katelyn Coyle, Kelly Riley, Kristin Mullen, Heather Veneziano (sitting), Nicki, and Dawn Lipscomb.


Thank You for Showing Us the Garden! Love, Meagan

Kelly Riley is the children’s education manager at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. A Richmond native, Kelly worked in a number of jobs after completing business school, including a position that allowed her to watch urban residents move into newly renovated housing and not understand or appreciate the plantings around the buildings. No reason they should, nobody had ever taught them differently. Kelly thought she would like to be the one to teach them. Inspired by a prospectus from the just-birthed Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Kelly headed off to J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College and earned her degree in horticulture.

Dear Kelly, thank you for teaching us more about the rain forest. I liked the part when everyone was wearing a suit, especially when I was the poisonous snake. I found a snake hole in my front yard.  Zach T.

In 1992, after securing and completing a stint as one the first paid interns here, she was summoned back to join the three other horticulturists then on staff in a position newly created just for her. Over the years, her role migrated gradually away from hands-on horticulture to hands-on education and eventually to the hands-on running of the Children’s Garden and all its formal and informal programs.

a loofa gourd

A loofah gourd

Dear Kelly, thank you very much for teaching us that a loofah sponge comes from gourds. I also enjoyed the seeds you gave us to keep. Your friend, Goldie  

Kelly remembers the Garden receiving a grant in the 1990s to fund classes for urban elementary school students, and the day when the first busload of excited children arrived. “Where am I?” “Do you live here?” The expansion of the Children’s Garden in 2005, and the way in which Kelly and her remarkable staff brought the Garden alive was a pivotal moment in the Garden’s first 30 years.

Dear Ms. Kelly Riley, I loved the planting. Thank you for showing us the Garden. Love, Meagan

Zach, Goldie, and Meagan are all in their early twenties now, perhaps starting families in which young children can learn from their parents about the rain forest and loofah sponges. And if the children of Zach, Goldie, and Meagan want to come learn in a garden, Kelly and her team will be here.


by Megan Compton, Education Assistant,  Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden  

Mothers Day - Gingko tree in Grace Arents Garden

Mothers Day – Gingko tree in Grace Arents Garden


Having brought our families to Mother’s Day at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden for the past six years, my best friend and I generally know what to expect. Each of the previous years, we sat at the tables, enjoyed our lunch, and watched our girls dance the day away under the tent at Bloemendaal House. The girls have always spent some time wandering around Grace Arents Garden, smelling the flowers and playing games in the grass, but we generally stayed close to the concert. This year was a little different…

Dancing to the music during the Mother's Day Concert

Dancing to the music during the Mother’s Day Concert


We arrived at the Garden just as the Glennroy and Company started their first set down at Historic Bloemendaal House. After finding a table, we lunched and watched the girls dance to their favorite tunes. We purchased ice cream at the cart – which really hit the spot on a warm day. Then my daughter asked the question that made this Mother’s Day visit to the Garden different than each of the previous years… “Mommy, can you show us some other parts of the Garden?”

Playing in the Children's Garden

Playing in the Children’s Garden

And… we were off on an adventure during which the girls had the “best day ever!” We started in the Children’s Garden where the girls went up in the CWD Kids Tree House and looked out over the Garden. On the way up, they saw another child playing the drum set under the ramp and wanted to try that next. After playing with the drum set, they built fairy houses in the “Gnome Depot” and explored other parts of the Children’s Garden. The girls were having so much fun that they said that they never wanted to leave.

Exploring the Woodland Walk and Flagler Garden.

Exploring the Woodland Walk and Flagler Garden.

Following our time in the Children’s Garden, the girls wanted to explore the “secret passageway” otherwise known as the Woodland Walk and Flagler Garden. This walk provided a perfect opportunity to put my 9-month-old in the stroller and give him a nap as we followed the girls. They loved the benches, winding walkways, streams, bridges and flowers along the way. The Flagler Lawn was the perfect spot for twirling and lying down in the grass and they wanted to see what creatures might be hiding under the benches near the slow dance sculpture.

Watching "Pop Pop's band" Glennroy and Company during their final song.

The girls watching “Pop Pop’s band” Glennroy and Company during their final song.

We ended back at Bloemendaal House for the final set of “Pop Pop’s Band.” Too sad to dance again, because the day was coming to an end, the girls watched the band over the back of a chair. Long after the band had stopped playing, the only way we could encourage the girls to leave was with a promise to bring them back to the Garden soon. Even though it was different, it definitely was another spectacular Mother’s Day at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.

Another yearly favorite - smelling the peonies!

Another yearly favorite – smelling the peonies!




















Text & photos by Brian Vick, Community Kitchen Garden Coordinator, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Blue Sky Fund Group 050314

The Blue Sky Fund volunteers in the Community Kitchen Garden — still full of energy and fun after three hours of hard labor.

Blue Sky Fund Clover 050314

The heavy weeding included clearing crimson clover and Brundage wheat, re-growing from the winter cover crop (already tilled under earlier this Spring).

Blue Sky Fund Celery 2 cropped

This team planted celery transplants, with perfect spacing.

The Blue Sky Fund organization exists to get inner-city kids out into the great outdoors for various types of experiential education. The organization’s core values include “Discovery through learning about nature, spirit, and self, Unity through working together with our team, neighbors, and diverse communities, Respect by how we treat ourselves, others, and the environment, Stewardship by caring for our environment, our community, our volunteers, and our financial resources.”

Members of the Blue Sky Fund volunteered in the Lewis Ginter Community Kitchen Garden earlier this month, and really put those core values on display. To be candid, having teens work in the CKG can be a little nerve-racking at times. Attention spans sometimes can be very brief, which affects  productivity.  These young people asked questions, wanted to learn and worked hard — very hard — at heavy weeding, mulching and planting. The group was a joy to be around, and their energy was infectious.

“The Blue Sky Fund Outdoor Leadership Institute crew loved working in Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden’s Community Kitchen Garden. We got to work in the fresh air and the sunshine, for the betterment of our community, and we maybe even learned a thing or two about integrated pest management and how deep we should plant our okra. You can’t ask much more from a Saturday morning!”   said Steven Cottam, Blue Sky Fund Adventure Programs Manager.


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

With A Million Blooms, it’s hard to keep up with them all! I have to tell you though when I walked through the Asian Valley this morning, the light was perfect, and the blooms looked better than I’d ever seen them. ….something I just had to share with you all, our most dedicated fans. Enjoy!

'Archangle' peony

Paeonia ‘Archangle’

White Peony

Pure light.

Peony blooms and buds

Blooms and buds with morning dew.

Twin peonies

Peonies in the Asian Valley. I’ve always wanted to call these ‘Sunny-Side-Up’.

paeonia 'irvin altman'

Paeonia ‘Irwin Altman’

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

Butterfly habitat plant kids

The Spring Plant Sale was a huge success! Thanks to many, many Garden volunteers, we raised just over $33,000 at this year’s sale. The total includs $422 earned by the Geezers for their potting bench, commissions paid by vendors who had booths at the sale, $1,480 in proceeds from the Richmond Horticultural Association booth, and $4,300 from the Fancy Phoenix vintage/mini-estate sale, new to the Garden’s plant sale this year. All proceeds support the Garden’s educational mission.

One of the new features we had at this year’s plant sale was Butterfly Habitat Kits to make your own butterfly waytation at your home. This was part of our campaign to save the Monarchs and support our Black Swallowtails butterflies . We sold 100 butterfly habitat kits. Special thanks go to Lorrie Lincoln, team leader for this project. Over 60 volunteers worked Tuesday through Saturday – not including  the work of the greenhouse volunteers. Nancy Penick, Chair of the Plant Sale devoted countless hours of leadership and hands on work as did Sherry Giese, Greenhouse Representative. Ellen Hartenberg more than maintained our fond memories of “Marlu’s Café” caring for the energy level of our volunteers, staff and vendors — thanks!

The Garden’s Youth Volunteers earned over $200 selling seeds and transplants. This compares to $80 at the Fall Plant Sale.
Nicki, Youth Programs Developer says, “I am thankful my homeschool gals could make the time to volunteer during typical school hours. All of the Service Learning Program volunteers had the opportunity to work on customer service, money counting/register, and communication skills. One particular volunteer made great headway with communication; greeting, eye contact, holding a conversation, staying on topic. This was also a great opportunity for the youth volunteers to spend time with some adult volunteers — Lorrie Lincoln and Barb Sawyer were particularly welcoming and inclusive to the youth volunteers.”

nicki and service learners 2014

Homeschoolers Sonny, left, and Kylie, right, helped sell seeds and transplants at the Spring Plant Sale. Children’s Garden Youth Programs Developer, left, assists.

More Botanical Art

by Judy Thomas, Art in the Garden Instructor, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Library of Virginia Art Exhibit

If you love plants (and we know you do!) come out and see another new exhibit of stunning botanical art alongside the Flora of Virginia exhibit at the Library of Virginia.

Central Virginia Botanical Artists, a group composed of mostly Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden teachers, students and graduates of the Botanical Illustration Certificate program, are exhibiting their work at the Library of Virginia through May 28. This exhibit is a local contribution during the time of the Flora of Virginia exhibit at the library. The Floral of Virginia exhibit includes original artwork created for the book, along with displays of the process of making botanical art, botanical dyes, the ecology of Virginia and more.

The Library of Virginia is located at 800 East Broad Street, Richmond, VA and is open Monday – Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.



by Jonah Holland , PR and Marketing Coordinator, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden With A Million Blooms at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden,  it’s so hard to choose favorites, but the Siberian iris ‘Blue Moon’ are looking oh-so-lovely this week. Don’t miss them! Siberian Iris 'Blue Moon'

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

Volunteer Barb Sawyer building with her granddaughter, Emmie Kobus.

Volunteer Barb Sawyer building with her granddaughter, Emmie Kobus at Explore the Outdoors on Sunday.

For two years in a row, we’ve arrived at Explore the Outdoors with a van full of familiar, readily-available natural materials (sticks, stumps, moss, gum balls, grapevine, pine cones, etc.) and watched the creativity unfold as families spend un-structured time creating masterpieces of art and engineering out of underappreciated items. When everyone slows down, amazing things happen.

a family hard at play creating their loose parts masterpiece

A family hard at play creating their “loose parts” masterpiece.

Kids start to notice details about the pine cones. Branches and raffia become rafts and forts. Families talk about the gum balls in their own yards. Parents and kids work together to balance sticks and stones. When something doesn’t balance, they try it again. And best of all? When we overhear parents promising the kids that they can do the same thing once they get home.

When children get excited about the natural world, they tend to care about the plants and animals in it. If the excitement level at Explore the Outdoors this year is any indication, the future’s in good hands!

a family enjoying a few books in the shady reading spot.

A family enjoying a few books in the shady reading spot.

by Katelyn “Katie” Coyle, Children’s Garden Educator, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden


The Children’s Garden has always worked to provide a rich environment that sustains local wildlife. This year, we are taking things a step further and registered ourselves as an official Monarch Waystation through Monarch Watch. Visitors to the Children’s Garden have always been able to find milkweed scattered throughout our garden beds, but we are taking a more public stance to raise awareness of the recent decline of the monarch population. It is now more important than ever to plant milkweed, the host plant of the monarch, as well as flowering nectar plants.  Monarch Watch says:

“Monarch Waystations are places that provide resources necessary for monarchs to produce successive generations and sustain their migration. Without milkweeds throughout their spring and summer breeding areas in North America, monarchs would not be able to produce the successive generations that culminate in the migration each fall. Similarly, without nectar from flowersthese fall migratory monarch butterflies would be unable to make their long journey to overwintering grounds in Mexico. The need for host plants for larvae and energy sources for adults applies to all monarch and butterfly populations around the world.”

If you are interested in creating a certified Monarch Waystation in your own backyard, visit MonarchWatch.org.  Hopefully you had a chance to buy a butterfly garden kit at our Spring Plant Sale  last weekend, another great way to get started on your own Monarch Waystation!

monarch waystation

Look out for the new Monarch Waystation sign in the Children’s Garden

CKG Bank of America Group 041614

Text & photos by Brian Vick, Community Kitchen Garden Coordinator, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Thirty (30!) Bank of America volunteers worked in the Community Kitchen Garden on April 16. For the second year in a row the group was organized by Barrett Taylor, General Manager of the Short Pump Banking Center. (Barrett is the lovely wife of Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden’s Patrick O’Hagan, gardener.) The group of volunteers braved a very chilly start to the morning, with the wind chill temperature at freezing (or below), but warmed up quickly with a series of heavy tasks, including weeding planting beds, laying cardboard and mulching pathways. The group also thinned turnip seedlings, and a lucky few potted up tomato transplants in the comfy Massey Greenhouse.
On behalf of the Garden, FeedMore, and our community, we thank Bank of America for their continued support.

CKG BoA Potting Tomatoes 041614


CKG BoA Turnip Thinning 041614


CKG BoA Clearing Beds 041614



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