Jan 1st, 2022

Looking Back at 2021

I’ve always appreciated New Year’s as a time for looking back and an opportunity to look forward. One of my favorite movies is “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and Ferris puts it best: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

In a year such as the one we’ve just had with COVID-19 still wreaking havoc, we may wish to move full speed ahead and leave 2021 in the dust. Coming up with the positives can be a bit challenging. That’s exactly why I believe looking back is so important. Reflection allows us to remember some of the good things the year brought to the Garden–there were many!–and to record them here.

This list by no means is an exhaustive one. It barely scratches the surface. My extremely rigorous and scientific methodology was scrolling through the images on my phone. Hopefully, you have many of your own good memories of the Garden in 2021 and can enjoy recalling them.

A New President and CEO

The year kicked off with the exciting arrival of the Garden’s new President and CEO Brian Trader. He quickly set to work strengthening the team of staff and volunteers. “I can’t think of a time when our society has needed the respite and healing of gardens and nature more,” Trader said. It was a sentiment shared by many.

Looking back at 2021, in spring Ch. 12 Reporter Candice Smith interviewed Garden President and CEO Brian Trader

NBC 12 Reporter Candice Smith interviewed Garden President and CEO Brian Trader in the Central Garden surrounded by tulips. We joked about how her outfit matched the display colors perfectly!

The Healing Power of Nature

One of the COVID-19 pandemic lessons has been a much greater appreciation of Nature. Throughout the year, the Garden provided an outdoor space for the community, offering opportunities for respite and healing. Events and activities such as artists-in-residence were highlighted as part of M&T Bank’s RESTORE: The Healing Power of Nature

Visual artist Unicia Buster

Visual artist Unicia Buster delighted guests with her work, including these Cecropia Moth wings. Buster and Alfonso Pérez Acosta were artists-in-residence, bringing their vision to the Garden and engaging guests as part of M&T Bank: RESTORE. (Photo by Unicia Buster’s son Adrian.)

Opportunities to Grow Together

During the growing season, a partnership between the Garden and ReEstablish Richmond came to fruition. A group of Afghan women grew vegetables in raised beds in the Kroger Community Kitchen Garden. The initiative was part of a women’s wellness group designed for refugees to connect with each other and build healthier lives–both physically and mentally.

Afghan Women's Group in the Rose Garden

A partnership with ReEstablish Richmond created raised beds for an Afghan Women’s group to grow fresh vegetables in the Garden. The women also enjoyed visiting the Garden and paused for this photo in the Cochrane Rose Garden.

Space for Healing

Healing comes in many forms. On Juneteenth, Project Yoga Richmond held a special Saturday Salutation at the Garden, offering space, place and time for healing inter-generational harm. Participants were encouraged to bring mats and open hearts. The event ended with all participants forming a huge circle and sharing deeply personal and moving reflections.

Project Yoga Richmond in the Cochrane Rose Garden on Juneteenth.

Project Yoga Richmond in the Cochrane Rose Garden on Juneteenth.

New Partnerships

Looking back at 2021, some of our favorite days at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden were our free admission days: CarMax Free Fourth of July and Genworth Free Community Day (Labor Day.) This year we were excited to spread the word about CarMax Free Fourth of July through Latinos In VirginiaEmpowerment Center and Waymakers Foundation.

Latinos In Virginia Empowerment Center conference room with bags for clients

Latinos In Virginia Empowerment Center kindly allowed the Garden to share flyers about CarMax Free Fourth of July in bags distributed at a community event.

Hope for the Future

Gardeners are always thinking ahead. The seeds (and bulbs!) planted this year will delight and inspire in 2022. Gardens also require daily maintenance, often in challenging conditions, and we can’t thank our horticulture team and volunteers enough for the work they do.

Looking back at 2021 we remember all the bulbs planted for spring 2022

Thousands of bulbs have been planted for our 2022 displays of daffodils, tulips, hyacinths and more.

Continued Focus on Sustainability

Work in the Garden included several significant projects, including a renovation of the Kroger Community Kitchen Garden, continued efforts in Saving the Glen Stream, and adding native plants along the edge of Sydnor Lake. The Garden continued to champion pollinators and wildlife and share best practices, including a popular series of blog posts about invasive plants with suggestions for alternatives.

Senior horticulturist Elizabeth Fogel

Senior Horticulturist Elizabeth Fogel and her team added native plants around the edge of Lake Sydnor to help pollinators and other wildlife.

Volunteer Power

Garden volunteers continued to be a force in 2021. From daily activities across all departments to events such as plant sales and Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights, volunteers helped keep the Garden going. You can read more about some of our volunteers and if you’re interested, please consider volunteering in 2022.

[Garden volunteer Lorrie Lincoln and her daughter Mary Lincoln helped spread the word about the importance of pollinators at Garden and through the community.

Garden volunteer Lorrie Lincoln and her daughter Mary Lincoln helped spread the word about the importance of pollinators at a community event this past summer. Mary is Exhibitions Coordinator at the Garden.

Looking Forward to Great Things in 2022

Looking back over these photos, it’s important to point out that a few images can’t come close to adequately capturing my colleagues’ hard work. The efforts are day in and day out with staff and volunteers working together. The guidance and support from board members, donors, and members are also key. A huge “thank you” goes out to all of the above.

What’s in store for 2022? While it is hard to predict the future, there’s one thing that’s certain—the Garden will continue living out its mission to connect people through plants to improve communities. We look forward to seeing you in 2022!

Looking back at the year, this photo captured a moment with the Garden's staff around the LOVE sculpture in the Central Garden.

The Garden’s staff around the LOVE sculpture in the Central Garden.

About Beth Monroe

Beth Monroe is public relations and marketing director at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. She feels honored to be part of a team connecting people and plants to improve our community.

You May Also Like