I had a chance to visit Richmond Virginia's award winning Louis Ginter Botanical Garden last week while traveling to speak at the J.C. Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh, NC, and I wish I had scheduled more time to explore around the property. I only had an hour to spare, but I was able to see much, enough to possibly draw me back again for a longer visit whenever I am in the Richmond, VA area.
I was so surprised but the size and design of this garden which in many ways could be called the Royal Botanic Gardens of Richmond. With emphasis more on decorative displays and ornamental horticulture than botany and collections, the Louis Winter Botanical Garden is surely what the public expects to see when they visit a botanic garden today.
There is much to see at the Louis Winter, and Richmond, Virginia is blessed to have such as treasure in their city. On the day I visited, the walks throughout the garden were filled with strollers, folks with cameras and young couples strolling and taking advantage of the spring weather. Not unlike a George Seurat painting, children played on the lawns, young couple sunbathed and other enjoyed picnics. Botanic gardens today struggle with defining a purpose - but the Louis Ginter seems to have found the perfect balance between public park, wedding venue, children play ground, family destination as well as providing a place where science and what I call 'populus-horticulture' can grow all together in harmony.
As my short visit proved, there is much to see here - regardless of ones' enthusiasms, the 50 acres of gardens include a Japanese Garden (the Asian Valley), a Rose Garden, a children's garden with a cool treehouse and an amazing Kew-Quality palm house complete with palms of course, but also some tropical plantings which must provide visitors with a keen-like escape during the winter months. The grounds are immaculately maintained and great care has been taken in design and ornamental plantings.
|The formal gardens featured many massed bulbs and spring flowering plants all set out in a classic English bedding style.|
|This tulip display first struck me as odd - the colors were curiously interesting but at first, felt a little random (not in an unattractive way), but it did capture my attention with it's original color palette. I mean, it worked.|
|Once I arrived at the steps of the conservatory, the tulip planting all made brilliant sense. Angled stripes of mixed color blends (maybe Colorblends?) drew the attention of many in the crowds.|
|In the left wing of the conservatory, a striking trellis of red passion flower vine stopped traffic, and those with cameras. This might have been the most photographed flower here.|
|A Spider Orchid, Brassidium Golden Gamine 'White Knight' HCC/AOS|
Orchids were everywhere, as this was Easter week, the end of an orchid exhibit I am imagining was still blooming. If you grow orchids, you know that most bloom either in the autumn or the spring, and these are the seasons when most orchid shows are held.
|Phalaenopsis 'Baldan's Kaleidoscope'|
|Epicatanthe 'Don Herman' with much less red spotting in it than the standard form was still beautiful. Perhaps it was a seedling from a cross?|
|Phalaenopsis 'Jiuhbao Green Apple' was well named.|
|Dendrobium anosmum reminds me of the Philippino's in Hawaii who kept baskets of them on their clothes lines when I was in college there.|
|Epidendrum Pacific Sunset 'South Point'|
|I have a soft spot for lady slipper orchids, (since Paph's were the first orchids I grew as a teenager), and this Paphiopedilum 'Mamie Wilson' reminded me that I need to add more to my collection.|
|I'm not that excited by Phaleonopsis because they are to omnipresent today, yet some are so amazing that maybe I need to take a second look at them - check out this moth orchid - Phalaenopsis KV Charmer.|
|Another orchid I remember from the 'clothes lines of Hawaii' is this beauty - Dendroboim farmeri. I've grown the white and yellow form, but not this pink one. It used to do well in the cool greenhouse, but it is difficult to find in New England.|
|A well designed and paved bridge continued the walks towards the rest of the garden. This one led towards the popular children's garden.|
|A large Kentucky Coffee Tree (Gymnocladus dioica) frames a view towards the conservatory. Even in early spring, the Louis Ginter Botanical Gardens is a worthy visit.|