Jun 1st, 2016

Summer Hours at Lewis Ginter

2016 Summer hours: 8 a.m. opening, Thursdays, June 2-Sept. 8

This year, summer hours at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden are going to change a bit, for the better of course.

summer hours offers opportunity to have the Tree House to oneself

One perk of being at the Garden at the early hours is that you can have the Tree House in the Children’s Garden all for yourself. Who says that adults cannot love tree houses?

Memorial Day weekend and the opening of the Nature Connects®: Art with LEGO® Bricks exhibit unofficially marked the beginning of summer. If you rise with the sun and are looking for ways to savor those quiet hours before the bustle of day, you may want to add Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden to your list. I am so delighted to announce the Garden’s new summer hours for 2016: for the summer only we are offering early morning access on Thursdays starting June 2 (tomorrow).  During this time frame, we will open on Thursdays at 8 a.m. instead of 9 a.m. It’s the first time we have ever offered these summer hours, so you should seize this unique opportunity to explore the Garden and take plenty beautiful pictures when the sunlight is the most beautiful.

For me, morning in the Garden is the sweetest of time. The sun is not yet blazing, just gently brushing on flowers and filtering through the foliage. Dew pearls are still clinging to grasses and plants, making everything glitter and glow. The morning breeze carries with her the sweetest bouquet of the day, where the scents just seem more fragrant than at other times of the day. Here and there, worker bees wander restlessly from one flower to another, buzzing in harmony. Sometimes, in a pool of sunshine, I can even see flower’s seeds, like pixie dust, floating in the air. Oh, and the birds! How could I forget about the birds! They twitter and chatter. They caw and coo, gleefully cruising the Garden for some juicy grubs and shiny seeds.

dew on leaves wildside walk

It was such a joyous moment to see the sunlight land on the leaves and make these minuscule dew drops sparkle.

Dew drops are still clinging to grasses.

After a rainy weekend, the sun finally showed up and waved his brush over the Garden canvas, painting the grasses a refreshingly verdant green color.

As someone who always comes to work early to walk around and enjoy all the beauties that abound, I always think that it’s such a privilege to be here in the early morning. The calmness enables me to notice and appreciate little things that usually pass me by during the bustle of day (if you are also a morning person, you know what I’m talking about). It’s simply an hour before the work day starts, yet the meditative tranquility of our beautiful Garden helps refresh my mind and lighten up my mood. I don’t even need to drink any coffee on days like these.

And as a photographer, what can be better than getting to perceive the world through a different lens, from a different angle, with a different mindset? I have to say that most of my best photos of the Garden are taken during these peaceful ambles, where besides a few people carrying out their routine tasks, I am almost always alone. When you want to photograph nature, a little bit of solitude is actually great. You can slow down, leisurely look around, scan for a sight of a blue heron near the West Island Garden, peer through the bushes for a few robins hopping around, or look up to the overhanging branches in search of the red cardinals — so bright and beautiful against the lush green leaves. Usually, you will hear birds before you even see them. They are not as skittish as when the Garden is full of visitors and you will have a chance to be a true observer of their daily dramas. 

toddler blue jay wildside walk

This toddler blue jay is calling after her siblings as she is the last to take her first flight, a moment you might only experience at the first of the day.

robin wildside walk

The North American robin is probably the least skittish bird at the Garden, in my opinion. I see them everywhere, hopping around, chasing each other, and flying from one branch to another.

The Garden is your oyster and the morning is its pearl. You can explore all the gardens at your own pace, but I highly recommend the Wildside Walk and Bluebird Trail, both of which are ideal for walking, photography, and birdwatching. Some common birds spotted at the Garden include the cedar waxwing, yellow-rumped warbler, blue jay, American goldfinch, Northern mockingbird, and common grackle, to name just a few. (Besides taking pictures, you can also contribute your observations to ebird.com  on your smart phone to assist scientists with tracking bird migration and population trends.) All of these photos below are taken at Wildside Walk, just to show you how the new summer hours offers great opportunities for bird/wildlife photography.

female cardinal wildside walk

Is this female cardinal pondering over the meaning of life … or what’s for breakfast?

squirrel wildside walk

Squirrel Nutkin is taking a break from playing catch-and-chase with his brother Twinkleberry.

Please note that programming and the Butterflies LIVE! exhibit do not begin until 9 a.m., and dining and shopping will still follow their usual schedules.

If you aren’t a morning person don’t worry,  you won’t miss out on all the summer fun at the Garden. We  will also continue to have extended hours on Thursday nights ’til 9 p.m. as part of our Flowers After 5 and Fidos After 5 events. Merlot and marigolds? A great pairing, don’t you think?

So, plan ahead and get ready for some exciting summer activities at the Garden!

About Phuong Tran

Phuong Tran is a PR & Marketing intern at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden this spring. It's very likely that you will find her somewhere in the Garden crouching on the ground and looking through her camera lens for some good shots. When she is not taking pictures, she may also be mistaken for a wandering child. Don't worry, she's not lost, just deep in thoughts over stories to tell about all these gorgeous flowers.

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