Mar 18th, 2013

Message from the Executive Director: A Natural Love Affair

by Shane Tippett, Executive Director, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Tree photo by Tyler DardenCan you remember being 10  and hurtling up your favorite climbing tree? Can you still feel the rough bark under your hands and the way the sturdy anchor of the tree’s trunk gave way to smaller and smaller branches until it all swayed giddily under your weight? How long did you hold your breath the first time you watched a hummingbird hover around a bed of bee balm? Have you ever thought dancing in the air like a butterfly on the wing must be a wondrous thing? Can you picture that first fistful of dandelions, buttercups and bluets you presented proudly to your mother? Do you remember the embarrassed smile on the face of the child who held up his own brilliantly colored bouquet to you, tightly wrapped in dimpled fingers, and how you carefully arranged the flowers in a vase on the kitchen table?
Did you think writers exaggerated when they described a stand of century-old evergreens as being cathedral-like until you walked through such a grove? Have you come to recognize the buds of early spring and the brilliant green shoots erupting through March snows like the faces of old friends? Camellia 'Isaribi' blossom in the snow. Nothing like snow to make a garden more beautiful! When you first took your young daughter out into the garden, did you think that dirty fingernails and scraped little knees could be a source of such keen pleasure? When you and your dog leave your apartment, walk down six flights of stairs and past seven blocks of buildings to arrive at the neighborhood park, do you marvel how your heart expands as the vista does? Once you’ve memorized the name of a woody shrub in that park from the plastic label alongside it, then see its sister a dozen yards down the path and can name her without a label, do you feel that your world got just a little bit bigger? When you stop at a farmer’s market on the way home, and buy fresh honey from a Hanover County beekeeper, do you feel that your world just got a little bit better?
snowy mountain pine
In naming this year’s activities at Lewis Ginter — symposia and exhibits, orchids and butterflies, galas and GardenFest, education for those thirsty for knowledge and food for the hungry — can you imagine a better phrase for the passion of our staff, volunteers, members and neighbors than “A Natural Love Affair”? Neither can we.

Executive Director Shane Tippett's passion for plants was kindled in the early ‘90s by a Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden arborist who mentored him on the care of specimen trees. This passion underlies his firm conviction in the transformative power of gardens to re-shape and renew communities, families and individuals and this continues to direct his leadership.

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