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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!