Gardening for Our Future

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden brings people and plants together. Encompassing more than 80 acres, the Garden is home to a richly abundant and diverse collection of plants and wildlife. A true “living” museum, the Garden provides a multi-sensory experience with hands-on opportunities to engage all ages and interests, especially children – the future stewards of our Earth. At its core, the non-profit Garden is focused on education and for more than 25 years has worked to raise awareness of our interdependence with the natural world. The Garden’s mission underscores its commitment to the future: “We advocate for sustainability and stewardship of our planet.”

Best Management Techniques and Plant Diversity

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden leaves select perimeter areas unmown to provide important wildlife habitat and used to slow rainwater run-off. The Garden composts and uses best-watering techniques such as watering early in the morning to minimize evaporation and allowing water to drip from the hose right into the root system. The Garden’s diverse horticultural collections (220 plant families and more than 276,000 plants!) includes natives especially beneficial to birds, butterflies and other wildlife.

Water Management Plan

The Garden has a water management plan designed for the purpose of developing and demonstrating best practices and sustainable strategies for water usage. Some good practices are already in place — the Garden collects rainwater from the roofs of its buildings and funnels it into an irrigation lake collecting and recycling more than 2 million gallons of rainwater annually. In the Children’s Garden, rain barrels are used. Horticulture carefully monitors and controls water usage. Gardens are being designed with water usage in mind, for instance the new Rose Garden uses underground drip irrigation and includes a constructed wetland at its base for filtration. As part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, the Garden is poised to set an example and be an educational resource.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

Already practiced in the Children’s Garden, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is moving toward Integrated Pest Management or IPM. IPM is an effective, environmentally friendly approach to pest management that relies on a combination of commonsense practices. The goal of IPM is to see a reduction of pests to acceptable numbers with the least environmental impact.

Right Plant, Right Place

The Rose Garden reflects some of the newest and most genetically superior hybrids, bred for disease resistance, rebloom and fragrance. The majority of the cultivars are from nurseries in France, Italy, Germany and England, and most are new to the Virginia region. The selections have been carefully made with concern for environmental responsibility to minimize the need for chemicals to control disease and insects. The location of the Garden, on the hillside, should help in providing natural air movement, which will also aid in minimizing fungal diseases.

More Examples Throughout the Garden

  • The Children’s Garden uses environmentally friendly materials that are long lasting and do not carry preservatives that would be harmful to children who come in contact with them. For example, the rampway to the Tree House is constructed of a WeatherBest, a recycled plastic product. The shingles on the Tree House are made of recycled rubber.
  • Meriwether Godsey (the Garden’s caterer): For group events, the Garden’s caterer has substituted reusable tumblers for disposable plastic cups and uses fully compostable hot cups and napkins made of 100% recycled material. Food containers are made of a corn-based product.
  • Garden Shop: “Green” merchandise includes Rich Earth and Eco Pots, reusable tote bags and helpful gardening resources.
  • Lora M. Robins Library: Environmental stewardship is covered by a bounty of resources, including books for children.