Gardening & Horticulture

Mar 4th, 2021

Nandina: A “Dirty Dozen” Plant

This week, we are highlighting invasive Nandina domestica, commonly known as nandina, heavenly bamboo and sacred bamboo. Despite the name, this member of the Dirty Dozen is neither a true bamboo nor heavenly. Like mulberry weed, nandina has not yet been recognized on the Virginia Invasive Plant Species List, though it is a well-known invasive […]

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Feb 25th, 2021

Lenten Rose

If you ask my favorite flower, I will have trouble answering. It depends on the time of the year, my mood, and if I’m growing it in my own garden.  But, I can honestly say that Lenten Rose (Helleborus orientalis) is one of my favorites at this time of year.  True, it doesn’t have much […]

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Feb 13th, 2021

A Lesson Learned: The History of Horticulture & Invasive Plants

Invasive Plants: How did They Get Here? If you’ve been reading our “Dirty Dozen” blog series, you’ve probably noticed a recurring theme in several of the articles: many invasive plants were intentionally brought to the United States for ornamental purposes. Up until now, we have not featured Dirty Dozen plants that were deliberately planted at […]

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Feb 6th, 2021

Tree-of-Heaven: A “Dirty Dozen” Plant

This week we are featuring tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima) as our “Dirty Dozen” plant. While this tree may have been used in folk medicine or even as an insecticide, it is diabolical for our Virginia native ecosystems. Tree-of-Heaven Ailanthus altissima is a member of the quassia (Simaroubaceae) family (PDF). This small to medium-sized tree is dioecious, […]

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Feb 6th, 2021

Crape Myrtle: Pruning

February is the time of year you may notice stark “stubs” of crape myrtles in parking lots and other areas around town. Often crape myrtle is so harshly pruned only trunks are left, with the top half of the tree hacked off. The look is so prevalent that many believe this is the correct way […]

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Feb 1st, 2021

Oriental Bittersweet: A “Dirty Dozen” Plant

This week’s Dirty Dozen plant is oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus). Since it is still available in the horticultural trade, we hope that the following information will convince you not to buy this plant. Oriental Bittersweet Celastrus orbiculatus is a member of the bittersweet family (Celastraceae). This deciduous, perennial, woody vine can grow up to 60 […]

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Jan 24th, 2021

Porcelain Berry: A “Dirty Dozen” Plant

This week’s featured member of the “Dirty Dozen” is Ampelopsis glandulosa var. brevipedunculata, commonly known as porcelain berry or amur peppervine. Most horticulture staff agree that this is the most pervasive of all invasive plants that we are currently battling at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. Porcelain Berry Ampelopsis glandulosa var. brevipedunculata (syn. Ampelopsis brevipedunculata), is […]

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Jan 15th, 2021

Chinese Privet: A “Dirty Dozen” Plant

This week’s featured member of the “Dirty Dozen” is Chinese privet (Ligustrum sinense). Though several southern states, including Virginia, have recognized this plant in their invasive species lists or laws,  unfortunately, Chinese privet remains a commonly sold and planted ornamental shrub. Keep reading to find out why you should stop planting it and how to […]

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Jan 12th, 2021

Mulberry Weed: A “Dirty Dozen” Plant

This week’s “Dirty Dozen” plant is mulberry weed (Fatoua villosa). In recent years, we have observed this plant creeping into our garden beds at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. So far, it has slid under the radar in Virginia, and only California, Alabama and Georgia include this plant in their invasive species lists or laws. We […]

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Jan 4th, 2021

Japanese Stiltgrass: A “Dirty Dozen” Plant

Last week, we shared that we will be covering the top 12 worst invasive plant species that we encounter at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden — the “Dirty Dozen,”  This week, we are introducing the first species on our list: Japanese stiltgrass.  Please note that we have not ranked the Dirty Dozen in any way, as […]

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Dec 22nd, 2020

Invasive Plants: The “Dirty Dozen”

Meet the Plants Over the next few weeks, we will be introducing 12 of the most problematic invasive plants that you’ll encounter in Central Virginia. Unfortunately, we also have to battle these even at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden! While our list is by no means comprehensive for Virginia, Richmond, or even our Garden, we have […]

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Dec 15th, 2020

Christmas Cactus: A Case of Mistaken Identity

My friend Carla knows a lot about plants. Ever since the day her mother found dirt in her diaper, she’s been a gardener. When she told me she couldn’t figure out why her Christmas cactus bloomed at Thanksgiving every year, I knew something was up. “Maybe it’s a Thanksgiving cactus,” someone suggested. She thought they […]

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Nov 16th, 2020

Yaupon Holly: The Forgotten Beverage

The yaupon holly shrub looks commonplace. It is not flashy or fancy. It doesn’t even have the prickly leaves we normally associate with hollies. If you walk by it without noticing it, like many of our visitors do, you would be in good company. It is often used as shrubs in residential areas and it’s […]

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Nov 2nd, 2020

Native Flowers: The Perfect Addition to your Garden

There are so many stunningly beautiful Virginia native flowers, but some plants can do so much more than just add beauty to the landscape. Here at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, we have many species planted specifically to attract birds and butterflies and to boost the ecological health of our gardens. While native plants are featured […]

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Oct 28th, 2020

Native Grass & Sedges

Grasses and sedges are often overlooked in garden planning but they make a wonderful addition to any garden because aesthetically, they provide great texture, color, and height to gardens in every season. In addition to adding beauty to your landscape, native grass and sedges provide resources to a wide variety of birds, insects, and even […]

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Oct 8th, 2020

Beautyberry

One of the most frequent questions we get this time of year is about the magnificent beautyberry shrub. It seems that many of our visitors are enamored with this striking plant as soon as they spot it! With almost surreal metallic purple berries cascading down branches of vibrant green leaves, this is one handsome plant! […]

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Oct 2nd, 2020

Osmanthus: Planting for Fragrance

Some gardeners may call it devilwood, but the fragrance of the osmanthus shrub is nothing less than heavenly. Its tiny, creamy white flowers form clusters that emit a powerfully fragrant scent, similar to the heady fragrances produced by magnolias and gardenias. Originating in East Asia, the osmanthus was cultivated for centuries and offered as aromatic […]

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Sep 28th, 2020

Designs for Diversity: Dean Dietrich

IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility) is an evolving committee where different voices are heard.  Departmental representatives gather in a safe, neutral zone to address important topics related to inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility. The IDEA committee embraces a culture where all people are welcomed, valued and appreciated. This is part of a series of […]

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Sep 23rd, 2020

Childhood Memories of Dot

Whenever I visit Lewis Ginter, there are three things I always make sure to see: the hydrangea bush on the far end of Sydnor Lake, the Conservatory, and Dot’s Garden. In their own way, each of these places reminds me of my grandmother, Dot Robelen. Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden was one of her favorite places […]

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Sep 15th, 2020

Fall Vegetable Gardening

It’s no secret gardening has skyrocketed in popularity since COVID-19. In the spring, some seed companies had to temporarily stop taking orders after an overwhelming surge in demand. Although that has since alleviated, now there’s a shortage of canning supplies! If you missed out on the growing season this spring and summer, never fear, it’s […]

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Sep 2nd, 2020

Smart Watering

A waterwise garden works with nature and natural forces (like rain) to hydrate plants while conserving water. Reducing the need to water your garden requires a little bit of research and some planning, but we think you’ll find the investment worthwhile. If you don’t already have a rain barrel installed, not only will you be […]

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Jul 20th, 2020

Japanese Beetles

There’s a question we’ve been hearing a lot these days. “What do I do when Japanese beetles are eating all my plants?”  Japanese beetles happily consume and damage the plants that you’ve worked so hard to carefully tend. They are pretty indiscriminate and they love roses especially! Where Did They Come From? Japanese beetles (Popillia […]

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May 29th, 2020

Native Plants: An Elegant Solution

Along the eastern edge of Lake Sydnor, on the narrow strip of land between the shoreline and the Children’s Garden, a group of plants is hard at work. The beauty of the bed belies its greater purpose. The plants there are members of a “designed plant community” that mimics how different types of vegetation work […]

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May 20th, 2020

Worms! How to Make a Wormery

Last week we talked about how worms can build healthy soil.  It’s an amazing and complicated process that these small earthworms take to transform our soil. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could see worms at work underground in the soil? Well, maybe we can. I’m going to show you how to build a wormery […]

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May 18th, 2020

Outdoor Activities for Kids

While our world may have shrunk to our homes during the coronavirus pandemic, that doesn’t mean there aren’t new realms to explore. Life is teeming all around us, especially at this time of year, with a never-ending stream of outdoor activities for kids. For those with children, the natural world is rich with opportunities for […]

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