Butterflies LIVE! closes in less than 2 weeks. Don’t miss your chance to see hundreds of butterflies fluttering through the North Wing of the Conservatory. If you’ve seen and loved Butterflies LIVE! come back one last time to say good-bye.
Sep 29th, 2013 by Jasmine Kent
by Annie Raup, Assistant Butterfly Curator, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
A question that the Butterflies LIVE! staff gets asked a lot is, “Where do the butterflies come from?” That’s a great question, since most of the butterflies in the exhibit are tropical. Here’s the answer….
But you better visit us soon — Butterflies LIVE! closes in 2 weeks!
Sep 28th, 2013 by Nicki Nicki
by Nicki, Children’s Garden Educator, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
We added something new to this year’s Fall Plant Sale, did you notice? The Service Learning Program volunteers had a booth and sold seeds that they had collected in the Children’s Garden throughout the summer with the help of the Youth Volunteer Program volunteers. The youth volunteers sorted, counted, and packaged four different varieties; Fernleaf Dill (Anethum graveolens), Klondyke Cosmos (Cosmos sulphureus), Love in a Puff (Cardiospermum halicacabum), and Love in a Mist (Nigella). We made sure to pick our more resilient plants that were tried and true. We researched seed count, pricing, and packaging to make sure our seeds were priced fairly and had accurate growing instructions.
We worked only Saturday since the volunteers were in school during the first day of the sale (Friday). Saturday was overcast and windy; a warm cup of tea was a nice way to kick-off to our shift at the Fall Plant Sale. Vivien, Coly, and I had a tea party with the loose-leaf Nettle tea I purchased from a vendor booth. We were in good company: there were a lot of fun and interesting booths at the sale; an Ayurvedic herbal medicine stand and a unique terrariums booth piqued our interest. We also had a fun time hanging out with some other volunteers we had never met. We were blown away with their Latin language skills and words of encouragement. You never know what other talents a Garden volunteer might have!
The youth volunteers took turns between working the register and answering botanical questions about our seeds and from those curious to learn more about the volunteer programs the Garden has for youth. William helped count out the register and close up shop at the end of the day. We did it! Our first time at the Plant Sale rocked! We raised $66 for the Garden, to help support the Garden’s educational mission. Don’t worry, if you missed it will be back at the Spring Plant Sale (save the date: May 1, 2, & 3) with seed packets as well as herb transplants we will start up in the Children’s Garden greenhouse.
The Children’s Garden seeds will also be for sale at the Garden Shop while supplies last.
by Jonah Holland, PR & Marketing Coordinator, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
This past weekend, when I was in New York City, I got to taste a plant I’ve often enjoyed looking at, but never eaten — the lotus. Each May, Lake Sydnor is filled with the white-pink blooms of the famed lotus, Nelumbo nucifera ‘Mrs. Perry D. Slocum.’ It is a beautiful sight to behold.
Imagine my surprise when I ordered Tofu Basil at a dive in a back alleyway in the Financial District, near Wall Street and A La Saigon had cooked beautiful lotus pods into a lovely stir fry with house-baked tofu, fresh basil, snow peas, zucchini, carrots and cabbage. The taste? Fabulous! The texture, if you imagine a very tender water chestnut, you’ll have the idea.
See the resemblance? Granted the stir-fry lotus pod likely wasn’t the exact same variety of Nelumbo nucifera (sacred lotus minus the ‘Mrs. Perry D. Slocum’) that is used in most of Asian cuisine and my Vietnamese Tofu Basil. Either way, I’m not sure I’ll ever look at my favorite ‘Mrs. Perry D. Slocum’ the same way again.
Next up on my culinary-botanical adventure: lotus seeds — both immature (watch, you crack them on your head apparently) and mature (have to peel them before eating). After all, who knew that lotus seeds are considered the “Cajun Peanuts” of the South, or that lotus seeds of American Lotus, Nelumbo lutea, were a dietary staple of the Native Americans of south Louisiana?
Text & photos by Brian Vick, Community Kitchen Garden Coordinator, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
The beginning of the fall planting season in the Lewis Ginter Community Kitchen Garden is almost more challenging than spring. Fall offers a more compressed window of opportunity for success, so it’s important to get the crops started at the right time and all at the same time. We’ve had great participation from our Lewis Ginter and HandsOn RVA volunteers during our Monday and Saturday morning work sessions, and consistent productivity from numerous corporate and special interest groups. However, we needed a surge effort — we needed many hands (and backs) to plant the fall crops during the first two weeks of September.
Luckily, 39 Altria associates rode to the rescue. Led by Helen Miller, these Altria associates represented the Sensory & Analytical Sciences Group. They planted 509 transplants (cauliflower: 232, broccoli: 215, cabbage: 62) in addition to tasks like removing tomato vines and stakes, a ton of weeding, and digging drainage trenches. Thanks to these Altria teams and other recent volunteers we’ve now completed the planting of 837 transplants total — 279 each of cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower. We’ll plant 100 more this weekend.
by Kendra Norrell, Assistant Butterfly Curator, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
During the Butterflies LIVE! exhibit, there have been many guests that point out the butterflies on the floor. While this can be worrisome at first to those who see it and are concerned about butterflies getting stepped on, it is important to note that the butterflies are there for a very specific reason: they are feeding.
Butterflies are known nectar feeders. A lot of times when we think of butterflies, we can envision them fluttering in a meadow full of blooms and the butterflies moving from flower to flower to get their delicious nectar. But, butterflies eat other things too. While nectar is a staple in a butterfly’s diet, there are nutritional aspects missing from the sugary substance.
Salt and other minerals are some of the important missing pieces. One place that butterflies can get these minerals is from standing water. This is why, especially when the floor is wet, butterflies will land on the floor and stay there. In nature, butterflies are sometimes seen doing the same thing, drinking from a puddle on the top of a rock, or in a muddy or sandy area along a stream. But what you can’t see right away with the butterflies on the floor is they are using their proboscis (a long straw like appendage that butterflies use to feed) sucking water off the floor.
Another more substantial food source to some butterflies is rotting fruit. You might notice in the exhibit plates of fruit on trays — just for the butterflies. Do not eat the fruit, it’s rotten! While humans may not enjoy rotten fruit, butterflies love it for all its sugary glory, and possibly its fermenting deliciousness! Butterflies will sit on rotten fruit sucking for a long period of time to get all the nutrients they need for flying, feeding, and reproducing.
While you might think rotten fruit is completely undesirable, there are a couple of worse things that butterflies love to eat. Yes, you guessed it: sometimes butterflies eat bird droppings or animal dung. Meanwhile, in the Butterflies LIVE! exhibit we are happy to let the butterflies get the minerals that they need by “puddling” on the floor. Just be sure to use caution when walking through the exhibit. Using the “butterfly shuffle” and being careful about where you step are two easy ways to avoid stepping on butterflies on the floor.
Remember, Butterflies LIVE! ends in just a few short weeks – so be sure to visit soon!
by Jane Cramer, Assistant Butterfly Curator, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
Visiting Butterflies LIVE! is a delightful experience whether you visit on a sunny or cloudy day. Each kind of day has its advantages:
*Butterflies are most active with *Butterflies rest more with a few
many species flying species flying
*Opportunity to feel the uplifting *Opportunity to take close up
energy from the butterflies photos of many species
*More likely a butterfly may land on you *Less likely a butterfly may land on you
We release new butterflies at 10 a.m. daily, and Saturdays at 10 a.m. & 2 p.m., through October 13. Don’t miss this magical experience of seeing many beautiful and colorful butterflies all around you!
Loved by some, despised by others, such is the fate of cattails. A common sight in our region, cattails stand at attention like soldiers in tight formation guarding perimeters of ponds, rivers and marshes. Whether they’re friend or foe depends on our perspective, as well as the species.
“The standard or traditional cattail (Typha latifolia) can be so invasive that you don’t want it around,” said Bill Bonwell, owner of the Stony Mountain Nursery in Louisa County. Specializing in aquatic plants and grasses, Bonwell prefers the graceful (Typha laxmanni) cattail, primarily because it has fewer tendencies to spread and overtake environs. “For the most part, the graceful as well as the dwarf, miniature and variegated species are attractive and eye-catching, but not so invasive,” he said.
“Any (aquatic) plants that you put in your pond are the same as terrestrial plants: they need care,” Bonwell cautioned. “Cattails get a bad name when owners don’t think they have to do maintenance.” The spread of cattails may be initially welcomed around a farm pond or area needing erosion control. Otherwise, a pro-active response may be required to control cattail overgrowth that can reduce plant bio-diversity, impede water flow and block desirable wetland views. Cattail populations may require pruning one or two times each year, depending on the variety, pond health and available nutrients. The perennial’s dense underground root system of rhizomes can be cut before propagating more plants. In addition, the brown-spike flower head can be removed before it dries into a fluffy spear and bursts open, releasing seed-filled fruits. The time period for removal is around mid-summer, dependent on the variety. Bonwell recommends snipping the spear and placing them in a plastic bag to contain the easily dispersed fruits since cattails can produce 100,000 (or more!) miniscule seeds per plant.
Much of nature seems to appreciate the cattails that remain. They provide food for Canada geese and semi-aquatic rodents; shelter for fish, frogs and snakes; nesting sites for ducks and Canada geese; and nesting material for birds, insects and amphibians. Other animals, such as deer, turkey and raccoons, rely on tall cattail groupings for hiding places from predators.
Native Americans and early settlers valued cattails, too. They utilized various parts for food and the long, sword-shaped leaves for weaving baskets and mats. The fluffy down-like fiber in the mature spikes served as a filling for bedding, papoose carriers and moccasins. Today cattails are enjoyed for their visual interest, either growing naturally in wetlands or adding charm to dried floral arrangements, wreaths and crafts.
Editor’s Note: This article first published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, in September 2013.
by Jonah Holland, PR & Marketing Coordinator, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
Aren’t friends great?! Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden has so many wonderful friends. We have friends who are great corporate partners, friends who are members and generous donors, we have over 500 friends who volunteer here at the Garden. But today, I want to talk about two friends who are experts — experts in daffodils.
Our friends Brent & Becky’s Bulbs and Ross Hotchkiss of the Virginia Daffodil Society had an idea to name a daffodil after Lewis Ginter. Needless to say, we are honored. Jay Hutchins, ”Grin-eral Manager” of Brent and Becky’s Bulbs, explains how it came about, “‘Ginter’s Gem’ came to be, not only because of our long standing relationship with Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, but mainly because of the camaraderie between the Virginia Daffodil Society and Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. LGBG has been, over the years, so accommodating to the Virginian Daffodil Society and they were so appreciative, that some of their members came to us and said ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if we could name a daffodil for the botanical garden and its namesake?’ At the time, Brent and Becky had some seedlings in the pipeline ready to be named. The members of the Virginia Daffodil Society looked at the seedlings and picked the soon-to-be-named ‘Ginter’s Gem’ because of its brightness (a soft, bright yellow) and its floriferousness (many, MANY blooms per stem). So, Brent and Becky took this cultivar to the leadership at LGBG to get their blessing and to them, it was an easy decision to make.”
In the name Ginter’s Gem, the Ginter refers to the Garden of course and ’Gem’ is a reference to Richmond Gems, the cigarette with trading cards that our namesake, Lewis Ginter, made famous. Ginter’s Gem will be available for the first time ever tomorrow, Friday, September 20, at the Fall Plant Sale. If you’ve got friends like we do, you’ll want to buy them a few of this wonderful new cultivar. It’s a beautiful daffodil, and a perfect symbol of friendship.
If you love daffodils, the next Virginia Daffodil Society Show is April 5-6, 2014, the week when the most divisions and cultivars of narcissus will be blooming in Central Virginia.