Jul 13th, 2021

Top 5 Garden Spots to Explore at Lewis Ginter

Last year was hard for all of us and took a toll. In 2020 the American Psychological Association says 8 out 10 of us report that the Coronavirus pandemic was a source of significant stress in our lives. The good news is summer is here and as more and more people become vaccinated, things are opening up and the stresses are easing. If you are looking for things to do in Richmond, it’s the perfect time to visit Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. With COVID-19 restrictions being lifted, the opportunity to explore all 50 acres of our favorite nooks and crannies of the Garden is here!  We hope you take this chance to relax, unwind, and explore the fascinating plants and exhibitions we have to offer.  After you take the time to really arrive here, really arrive, settle in and take a few deep breaths. We think that you will find healing, relaxation and restoration as you let the clean air,  fluffy clouds, brilliant warm sunshine and lush greens foliage of summer seep into your mind and body.  Whether your gig is the open wide spaces and cultivated gardens in the Central Garden; a cool, shady spot under the trees of the Flagler Garden; or the watery escape of the West Island Garden, we think you deserve some kindness to yourself.  Here are our top 5 favorite spots to explore!

Step Back Into the Garden

Looking for things to do in Richmond ? Check out the Central Garden at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

The Central Garden provides a view of our elegant courtyard leading to the Conservatory in the distance. Photo by Tom Hennessy.

1. Central Garden  

The Central Garden is your first view when you walk into the Garden from the Robins Visitors Center. It is a maze-like, courtyard filled with several fountains that lead to a fabulous view of the Conservatory. (If you love this view, after visiting, swing by the Garden Shop in the Visitors Center, to pick up some souvenirs featuring this image that will make your visit a memorable experience.) The Central Garden hosts some creative and landscape designs including our frog fountains, stone tile walkways and our eye-catching LOVE letters sculpture. This garden also has an area that focuses on the spiritual healing and medicinal properties of certain plants.

Roses in the Rose Garden just one of many Things to do in Richmond

The Cochrane Rose Garden is a 9,000 square foot hillside space that features over 1,500 rose bushes.

2. Cochrane Rose Garden

Once you step out into the Garden you may walk down a trail and notice an abundance of roses. The Cochrane Rose Garden features more than 125 types of roses. The Rose Garden is located on the hillside with good airflow to help the roses look their best. Open a book on one of the nearby benches and enjoy the breeze and the aroma of the roses. There is also a nice view of the Conservatory from the hillside as well.

Japanese maples in the Asian Valley -- Things to do in Richmond

The Japanese maples surrounding the Robins Tea House in the Asian Valley.

3. Asian Valley

Strolling through the garden you may notice a circular moon gate. Stepping through this portal-like entrance leads you into the Asian Valley. The Valley is shaded with trees and a mystic aura that is home to many plants that are native to Asia such as the blackberry lily (Belamcanda chinensis). The allure of this garden is due to its atmosphere. If you visit during fall, you can’t help but enjoy the fragrance wafting over from the Osmanthus shrubs.  Japanese maples (Acer palmatum) dot the landscape, adding texture and form.  Walking down the paths of the Asian Valley, you may feel a sense of relief as your worries drift away.

4. West Island Garden

The Lotus Bridge provides an excellent view of the Klaus Family Tree House, the wetlands and Sydnor Lake.

Hummingbird with Lobelia cardinalis. Image by Garden Member Sandy Fuller Spicknall

A hummingbird sipping nectar from the red cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis).

Treading deeper into the garden you will eventually come across the West Island Garden, which hosts the largest body of water at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden with Sydnor Lake on the left and wetlands to the right. The wetland environment is home to many insects and animals, as well as a noteworthy collection of carnivorous pitcher plants, the Sarracenia. This is also a great place to spot a hummingbird sipping nectar from the red cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis). The Lotus Bridge gives you great access to the views and visits of both Sydnor Lake and the West Island Garden. The sunlight hits Sydnor Lake in a way that makes the lake seem golden. You can see turtles and fish swim just under the surface of the water here.  It is the perfect place to hang out and take in the enormous view —  one of our favorite things to do in Richmond.

Visiting Flagler Garden in summer with daylilies is one of our Things to do in Richmond.

The Henry M. Flagler Garden provides the ultimate adventure experience with its multiple pathways through its Woodland Walk area.

5. Flagler Garden

If you happen to be out in the Garden on a hot day, the Flagler Garden is the perfect place to retreat under its towering trees that provide shade from the sun. This area of the garden is home to many species of plants including Stokes’ aster (Stokesia laevis), Acanthus and the cup plant (Silphium perfoliatum) These three acres of land host a large field where you can lie down and relax on a blanket enjoying the peaceful woodlands and a view of  Slow Dance, a large stone sculpture.  Also, Wednesdays and Thursdays in summer the Garden stays open until 9 p.m. so you can enjoy the sunset for Wednesday Alfresco and Flowers after 5  with live music.  On the second and fourth Thursdays, if you’re lucky, you may stumble into a Garden full of man’s best friend on Fidos Nights, another one of our favorite things to do in Richmond.

Malik Glaspie is a graduate of Norfolk State University with a bachelor’s of arts in Journalism/Mass Communications. His hobbies include reading manga, listening to music, and photography.

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