Feed on

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

Ladies shoppingOne of my favorite ways to support local businesses and non-profits is by shopping for Christmas presents right here in Richmond. I like that my  money stays in the Richmond community, or better yet stays in Richmond AND  helps a local nonprofit. Plus, my family members like the unique gifts I find locally.

Here are a few upcoming events that support Lakeside Business owners and Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. Did you know that all the profits from the Garden Shop at Lewis Ginter go directly to support the Garden’s educational mission?  Plus, we’ve got some great deals!

Champagne ‘n’ Shopping at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Thursday, November 13; 2014; 5 – 8 p.m.   A special evening of shopping just in time for the holidays. Guests will be greeted with a glass of champagne punch or sparkling cider and enjoy live music and door prizes while you shop. Plus, Garden Members receive their 10 percent discount on all purchases.

Holly Jolly Christmas on Lakeside Avenue  Start your  holiday shopping at the 10th Annual Lakeside Volunteer Rescue Squad Holly Jolly Christmas event, Friday, November 14 ( from 5-9 p.m.) and Saturday, November 15, 2014 (regular store hours). Of course the Garden Shop will be open! Plus, enjoy FREE trolley rides and special deals at participating Lakeside merchants. The Farmer’s Market will also be open.  holly jolly poster with shopping details

Super Saturday Shopping Day at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014. Details: Garden members receive a 20 percent discount in the Garden Shop on this Super Saturday Shopping Day. That’s double the usual member discount of 10 percent. Not a Garden member? Learn more about the many benefits of Garden membership.

If you miss these great events, some of my other favorite non-profit stores in Richmond include Second Debut, run by Goodwill in Carytown, the Lora Robins SPCA Shop (visit the webpage for an additional coupon!), and the Virginia Center for Architecture Shop.

Plus, don’t forget Small Business Saturday is coming up on November 29!

“I must have flowers, always, and always.” ― Claude Monet with anemone flowers

by Jonah Holland, PR & Marketing Coordinator, and Scott Hornby, Development Writer, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Barrett Taylor and the volunteers from Bank of America.

Barrett Taylor and the volunteers from Bank of America working in the Community Kitchen Garden last year. Band of America has a history of supporting the Garden both with funding and volunteers.

Thank you to the Bank of America Charitable Foundation for providing Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden with a grant that will help support the Community Kitchen Garden  and a new Edible Display Garden at Lewis Ginter.

This year the Community Kitchen Garden has grown 6,599 lbs of local, organically grown vegetables for Central Virginia’s hungry children and homebound seniors served by FeedMore.  Since 2008 BOA Charitable Foundation has been working to provide hunger relief and has donated over $12 million dollars to projects like ours. Bank of America Charitable Foundation has a history of support for the Community Kitchen Garden, and Bank of America employees support the mission too with their volunteer efforts.

Have you heard about the new Edible Display Garden we are creating in partnership with Virginia Tech? Edible landscaping is a key part of sustainable urban horticulture, but there are currently no major locations in Central Virginia where people can go to learn more. Our Edible Display Garden will demonstrate best practices that we hope inspire you to create similar plantings in your own yard. We’ve already started planting the 3,600 sq. ft. garden, it will be located next to the Children’s Garden, and will enhance the area’s ornamental landscaping with food-producing plants. The project will provide a teaching landscape for adult and school classes and demonstrate how a food producing urban landscape can be functional, sustainable and beautiful. The Edible Display Garden will include fruit and nut trees, berry producing shrubs,  herbs, root vegetables and more. The Garden will feature hardy, low maintenance species that are ideal for Central Virginia. We will display plants with a range of harvest times to grow fresh produce throughout the season.  Look for more information and photos of the Edible Display Garden in coming months. Other sites of the Edible Display Garden project include Hahn Horticulture Garden at Virginia TechFairfax County’s Greenspring Garden and  Norfolk Botanical Garden.

Thank you Bank of America — we appreciate your partnership.

Barrett Taylor  and the team from Bank of America

Barrett Taylor, Banking Center Manager, from Bank of America lead a group of BOA volunteers working in the Community Kitchen Garden. Far right is Barrett’s husband, Patrick O’Hagan, who is a Gardener at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.



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

monarch butterfly on milkweed

The leaves of the native milkweed provide a place for the monarch butterfly to lay its eggs, as well as providing a source of food for larvae that hatch.

“Go native!” sounds like a tropical chant, but actually it’s a “go green” reminder for  landscape designs. Native plants are the species of perennials, shrubs and trees that occur in the region where they evolved. They’re the flora that nature intended for the area, and what native insects, birds and wildlife rely on for survival.

“If we want to preserve wildlife, we have to have natural areas and native plants,” said John Hayden, professor of biology at University of Richmond.“For example, right now there’s a lot of interest in bird populations being happy and healthy, but we’re not going to have them without native plants at the base of the food chain.” Hayden said that native plants, insects and animals co-evolved over time, so certain essential interrelationships developed. When native flora is not available or is negatively impacted, ramifications occur across the entire food chain.

Another benefit of using native plants is the need for less. Native plants require less work, less money, less chemicals and less water to maintain than non-natives because they’ve adapted to the region’s soil and climate. There’s minimal or no need to change local conditions to meet their needs.

The growing plea from native plant societies, water-quality organizations, researchers and biologists is to opt for native species whenever feasible—but along with that philosophy comes the need for changed expectations. Native perennials, shrubs and trees aren’t as predictable in size and shape as genetically altered hybrids. They also may not be the newest, largest or most unusual specimens, like some of the genetically enhanced hybrids. However, native plants naturally showcase the region’s native flora and, more importantly, earn the approval of native insects, songbirds and wildlife that make it their home.

If you want to grow native plants, it’s best to purchase them from retailers and nurseries that specialize in native varieties. Those growing naturally in woodlands and meadows don’t respond well to transplanting.

Native plants may be seen and enjoyed along the Garden’s Wildside Walk and  Butterfly Meadow, as well as areas of the Children’s Garden.

For tips on nurturing them once planted, explore resources in the Lora M. Robins Library at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden or these books from the Garden
Shop: “Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants,” “Bringing Nature Home” and “Great Natives for Tough Places.” 

Editor’s Note: This article first published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, in April 2012.

"Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves." - James Matthew Barrie.

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

Tasting veggies right where they grow

Tasting a purple Chinese long bean.

We were delighted to have Blue Sky Fund and Richmond Public SchoolsBellevue Elementary School  5th graders back at the Garden this week continuing their outdoor science learning. (We wrote about their first visit to the Garden a few weeks ago.)
The visit had three components: service (they helped put down mulch in the Children’s Garden), using a dichotomous key to determine the species of a tree, and using scientific method to determine how a tree’s canopy effects soil temperature. The children also tasted peppers and beans, right off the plant.

Charles Johnson, Program Manager – Academics, Blue Sky Fund explains the project,  “The dichotomous key activity was a tree identification activity based on using cuttings from trees close to the Bloemendaal House. Students took the tree leaf/branch cuttings and would start at numbered stations, answering a series of two-option questions (hence the term dichotomous) in order to identify the tree. Each station, once answered, would send the students to a new numbered station, until they had correctly identified their tree. After we realized the students were quickly catching on to how to do the activity, we made it more challenging by having them scatter the numbers of the stations in random order and then racing another team to see who could identify a new leaf first.”

Take a minute to look through the photos, you’ll see some great learning going on!  This program was made possible thanks to a grant from The Dominion Foundation.

Tasting a "snacking" pepper.

Tasting a “snacking” pepper.


5th Grade girls mulching in the Children’s Garden. This was the service part of the project.

Children learning in Grace Arents Garden.

Using the dichotomous key to determine what tree their branch came from.

Bellevue teacher Ms. May helping the students with the dichotomous key.

Bellevue teacher Ms. May helping the students with the dichotomous key.

Kids measuring and taking scientific data

The kids worked in teams to measure the soil temperature at various intervals under and outside of the tree canopy. Here the students are learning scientific method, one of the 5th grade SOLs. Students used the scientific method to determine the effect of trees on soil temperature. Since this was the students’ second trip out to the Garden this year, they worked on evaluating their hypotheses from September. They measured the soil temperature at three different points from the tree (2 ft., usually around 10 feet, and 20+ feet) and in up to four different directions (north, south, east, west). 2 ft. is in the mulch/dirt base around the tree, 10-12 ft. is usually under the tree canopy, and the final measurement is outside the canopy.

boy looking

Exploring with a magnifying glass.

raising hands to answer

These girls know their stuff! The Blue Sky educator was asking what the steps of the scientific method were in order.


Don't forget, Fall Back -- daylight savings time ends Sunday at 2 a.m.

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

This year we have lucked out with no hard frost as of yet. What this means is that the Rose Garden has had a chance for a second strong bloom. Enjoy these beauties today and tomorrow though, Sunday night temperatures will fall into the upper 20s/low 30s — our first hard frost of the season.

Grandiflora Rosa 'Cherry Parfait' Meilland

Grandiflora Rosa ‘Cherry Parfait’ Meilland

Grandiflora Rose 'Wild Blue Yonder' Carruth

Grandiflora Rose ‘Wild Blue Yonder’ Carruth

Hybrid Tea Rose Rosa 'Bella Di Todi'

Hybrid Tea Rose Rosa ‘Bella Di Todi’

Hybrid Tea Rose Rosa 'Olympiad' McGredy Rosacae

Hybrid Tea Rose Rosa ‘Olympiad’ McGredy Rosacae

Shrub Rosa 'Pat Austin' David Austin

Shrub Rosa ‘Pat Austin,’ David Austin

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

Sheila Brady, Thomas Rainer, Travis Beck, Adrian Higgins

From left to right: Sheila Brady, Thomas Rainer, Travis Beck, and Adrian Higgins

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Making Beauty Sustainable Gillette Forum on Landscape Design at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. This was a new experience for me — I don’t have a background in gardening or landscape design, but I was excited and curious all the same. The day started with presentations from Adrian Higgins, garden writer, author, columnist and editor at The Washington Post, and Thomas Rainer, landscape architect and author of a popular landscape and culture blog, groundeddesign. I feared that I would not understand most of the material, however both Higgins and Rainer were wonderful presenters, who spoke in a way that even someone like me with no landscape or design background could understand.

As the first speaker, Higgins really opened my mind to the history of landscape design. He described how we are currently in a “frightened period” where people often try to “tame” nature; we take nature out, just to put our own, tamed version of nature back in. The biggest point I took away from his presentation was that achieving a “living landscape,” in which gardens are both aesthetically pleasing and functional, is both possible and important. In the future I hope to not only buy a house, but buy a house with a yard big enough to have my own garden. Some people may have things like bungee jumping or jumping out of an airplane on their bucket list, but I prefer to keep my feet on the ground — and I’d like to use my own hands to dig up the earth and cover that ground with beautiful plants and vegetables. Higgins has inspired within me a passion to one day achieve this goal, and made me realize just how important it is.

Rainer brought up several wonderful points about the different layers of landscapes and how to vertically layer plants to make the most of every “nook and cranny” available. He broke these layers down into three sections: the upper layer: the leafless upper layer plants inhabiting different areas, sparsely throughout; the middle layer: the bulk of the design — this is what your eyes really focus on where usually one to two species are especially dominant; and last, the ground cover layer: the area most people forget about, the various grasses and species that are low to the ground. Rainer noted that we have moved to a landscape design of heavily mulched areas with a few plants sprinkled here and there in between. By utilizing the ground cover layer, instead of spreading mulch far and wide, we can use a variety of grasses and low-lying shrubs to create “green mulch.” In nature we do not find mulch or bare ground as we do in a man-made landscape design, but we do find “green mulch” or plants and grasses that grow, covering the ground layer. I highly recommend taking a look around Rainer’s blog — even I, a gardening novice (even that term seems too generous), enjoyed reading up on Rainer’s views on landscape design.

I took a lot of notes during both Higgins and Rainer’s presentations, and I hope that one day I can put them to good use in a garden of my own. For now, I will share them with you in hopes that you can put them to good use in your yard:

  • Rainer believes we should reevaluate how we think about native and ecological planting. Native gardens are a big trend now, but the message of native planting is being interpreted too strictly. One doesn’t have to get rid of their exotic, non-native plants, but one should take on the design challenge of integrating native plant species with other species.    Some tips for achieving this harmony:
    • Observe how a plant works in nature, and how plants naturally interact with other species. Design your garden based off these interpretations.
    • Consider three principles for design: plant to place (create a palette from similar habitats), plant to plant (vertically layer compatible species), and plant to people (how plants will interact with you, the emotional connection.)
    • Consider that plants and landscapes in nature thrive without interference, plant plants where they might grow naturally — they might live longer.
    • Examine the sociability of plants, how plants in the wild arrange themselves, and plant accordingly. Do they appear in larger clusters (a high sociability) or do they appear singularly, spread out among the landscape (low sociability). If in nature a plant is found with low sociability, plant them singularly in your garden.
  • When achieving a native landscape, consider plants from other hemispheres that survive in similar conditions. Planting species that survive in similar conditions will increase chances of survival while providing a larger variety of species.

Overall, attending the forum was a wonderful experience. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to see and learn from Travis Beck and Sheila Brady  who spoke after lunch with additional perspectives on ecological designs. If you attended the Gillette Forum, we’d love to hear your takeaways from these speakers and share what you learned from them.


Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween photo of pumkins in the Children's Garden

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