lewis ginter botanical garden: the conservatory & butterflies live!

Friday, August 16:  This afternoon, before heading to Yorktown to visit my father, I stop to explore the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.

Lewis Ginter (1824-1897) was a prominent businessman, army officer, and philanthropist in Richmond.  He had a number of business careers, making and losing fortunes several times over, finally amassing great wealth in the tobacco industry.  He helped develop many civic and business interests throughout Richmond, including the Jefferson Hotel.  Major Ginter brought this property inf 1884 and built the Lakeside Wheel Club here as a destination for Richmond bicyclist.

the entrance to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
the entrance to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

I first head through the visitor’s center and across the Four Seasons Garden, the Healing Garden and the Fountain Garden, on my way to the Conservatory.

Crossing the gardens to the Conservatory
Crossing the Four Seasons Garden to the Conservatory

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASixteen years after Major Ginter’s death, his niece Grace Arents purchased the abandoned clubhouse from her uncle’s estate.  She remodeled the structure, added a second floor and opened a convalescent home for sick children.  Later, when there was no more need for that, Ms. Arents developed gardens on the grounds and named the property Bloemendaal (“Valley of Flowers”) to honor her Dutch ancestors.

Fountain
Four Seasons Garden

When Ms. Arents died in 1926, she bequeathed life rights to her friend and companion Mary Garland Smith, who lived with her, with the stipulation that upon Ms. Smith’s death, Bloemendaal would become the property of the City of Richmond  to form a botanical garden named after her late uncle.  Mary Garland Smith died in 1968 at the age of 102.  The property transferred to the City of Richmond, and after languishing for over a decade, the gardens opened its doors to the public in 1987.  (Information from the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden brochure)

The Conservatory at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
The Conservatory at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden with the Fountain Garden in the foreground

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAInside the Conservatory is a Classical Palm House, tropical orchid wing and themed floral displays.  At the north end of the conservatory is the Butterflies LIVE! exhibit, which will be at the garden until October 13, 2013.

Outside Butterflies Live!
Outside Butterflies Live!
water gardens outside the Conservatory
water gardens outside the Conservatory
water gardens
water gardens
in the water gardens outside the Conservatory
in the water gardens outside the Conservatory
water gardens
water gardens
water gardens
water gardens
water gardens
water gardens

Before entering into the Butterfly garden, we must step into a middle room where we must leave bags behind, as butterflies like to hitchhike on large objects.  On the way out, we must stop in the room again and be inspected by a staff member, to make sure we’re not unwittingly carrying any butterflies on our clothing.

Butterflies LIVE!
Butterflies LIVE!
Butterflies LIVE!
Butterflies LIVE!
pretty flowers inside Butterflies LIVE!
pretty flowers inside Butterflies LIVE!
flowers inside the Butterflies LIVE! exhibit
flowers inside the Butterflies LIVE! exhibit
Butterflies LIVE!
Butterflies LIVE!
Butterflies LIVE!
Butterflies LIVE!
Butterflies LIVE!
Butterflies LIVE!
Butterflies LIVE!
Butterflies LIVE!
Butterflies LIVE!
Butterflies LIVE!
Butterflies LIVE!
Butterflies LIVE!
Butterflies LIVE!
Butterflies LIVE!
Butterflies LIVE!
Butterflies LIVE!

After enjoying the butterflies fluttering all about and lighting on pretty flowers, I leave the exhibit and head into the orchid garden…..

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15 thoughts on “lewis ginter botanical garden: the conservatory & butterflies live!

      1. I wish I had known, Cathy! I’m not far from Salisbury, and I’ve been wanting to visit Blackwater Wildlife Refuge. I just mentioned to my husband yesterday that we should go there this weekend, but we’ve decided to wait for cooler weather in hopes of avoiding the bugs. Next time you come this way, let me know. Perhaps we can meet up. 🙂

      2. Ok, that would be great, Robin. I have some nice pictures from there, but I was a little disappointed because when I was last there about 26 years ago, there were boardwalks all through the wetlands. Now it’s just a driving tour, with some pull-offs along the way, which I didn’t like as much. Also the original visitor center is closed for renovations. The first time I ever went it was in November. I think the fall would be nicer!

        I’ll certainly let you know next time I head that way. It would be lovely to meet you and go out taking pictures together! 🙂

    1. Thanks so much, Sylvia. I admit it wasn’t too difficult to capture those butterflies as they were all trapped in the conservatory and couldn’t escape easily. It was fun to have them at least somewhat captive. 🙂

  1. What impressive photos of those butterflies – they do a similar thing at RHS Wisley (http://www.rhs.org.uk/gardens/wisley) in February where they release butterflies in the glasshouse, I never got photos as good as yours though! My favourite photo is // The Conservatory at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden with the Fountain Garden in the foreground // which is just perfect – so symmetrical 🙂 and the conservatory itself is just so pretty 🙂

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