Dec 9th, 2013

A Natural Love Affair in the Library

by Janet Woody, librarian, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

horned owl

The great horned owl watches over everything in the library. On loan from the Rockwood Nature Center

I love our Dominion GardenFest of Lights theme this year, “A Natural Love Affair”, because it can be interpreted so many ways. We’ve been able to create beautiful scenes all over the garden, including the library. Our book this year is Mossy by Jan Brett.  Our GardenKeeper will read Mossy every Monday in the library reading room (three performances: 5:30, 6:30, and 7:30 p.m.)

helmet snail shell

A scary looking helmet snail shell. Imagine a snail this big!

Mossy is a wonderful turtle love story and I highly recommend it. One of the characters is Dr. Carolina, a scientist with a natural history museum. Jan Brett has bordered almost every page with illustrations of specimens that would be found in a natural history museum: rocks, shells, feathers, seed pods, fossils. So naturally the library had to be decorated that way too.  I sent out a call for donations to create a nature study in the library.


Chlamys madisonius, a fossil from the lower James River

Mortar and pestle

Mortar and pestle from the Virginia Museum of Natural History in Martinsville

The results of my search have been fantastic. We have stuffed birds, snake skins, minerals, rocks, and fossils. We have buckets of shells for playing and posters for studying. We have an oryx skull, cypress knees, and shark teeth. Sand dollars, petrified wood, a four-hundred year old pestle and mortar, the list goes on and on. And, we have terrariums and miniature gardens. There truly is something for everyone in the library.
As always, our horticulturists have outdone themselves with our  two trees: a summer tree in the main room, and a spring tree in the reading room. Lots of dried botanical materials from our garden are used on the trees and the scenery around them.

corn snake skin

corn snake skin from the Children’s Garden snake


Amazonite found in Amelia County, on loan from the Richmond Gem and Mineral Society

If you save the library for last on your GardenFest visit, you’ll be happy to know that we have comfortable chairs so that you can rest and reflect on all of the beautiful things you’ve seen at the Garden. If you come to the library first, seeing all this natural beauty will energize you for your grand walk around the garden. Whether first or last on your itinerary, your library visit is guaranteed to be fun and educational.

About Janet Woody

I am the librarian at Lewis Ginter and like to talk and read about plants. I also enjoying researching Lewis Ginter and our founder Grace Arents. Visit me in the library and we'll talk about plants, or history, or some other fun topic.

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