I belatedly saw the BBC’s Ten North American gardens worth travelling for this morning (thanks to my husband, who suggested we should try to make it to all the gardens on the list!)–and was very pleasantly surprised to find the first garden featured was the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, Virginia. I was just there less than two weeks ago–as a way to distract myself.
I had just taken our third son to university for his first semester and was acutely aware that the chatter and noise and laughter (and yes, chaos) that has been a hallmark of our family life is now giving way to a quieter, calmer modus vivendi. This has its pluses, but also its downsides, as it becomes clear that our family is soon to be permanently dispersed and the supply of teenaged dish washers is about to vanish. We are not empty nesters quite yet–our daughter does not leave for college until next year. But then we are in for various adjustments. Perhaps that is when we will start visiting the North American gardens on the BBC’s list. Though apparently, that sort of thing is a sure sign someone is middle aged. And I appear to have been middle-aged for a long time now, since I’ve been doing some of the things on the list since my 20s!
But, back to gardens. After dropping my son off, I headed straight to Lewis Ginter, and it was the perfect antidote. It is a gorgeous garden in many respects, but I was particularly taken by two things: the Butterfly Exhibit in the Conservatory and the water lilies in the ponds right outside the Conservatory. I don’t often come across water lilies except in botanical gardens, and even then I don’t always catch them in bloom. But on this visit, a Hardy Water Lily was in its full glory:
The ponds also featured Santa Cruz water lily pads. I have never seen such big water lily pads (at their largest, they can support a small adult). What must it be like to actually float on a lily pad? Perhaps the reality is not as nice as the fantasy, but I did engage in some wishful thinking. Here are two photos: a full pad, and a close-up showing the pattern along one side.
As for the butterflies, they were everywhere–the exhibit was a misty, moist, magical place. You had to watch where you stepped and be prepared to serve as a butterfly landing pad. Turns out those butterflies can move pretty quickly when they want to, so here are the three best photos I ended up with: a Melinaea Butterfly with nectar in its proboscis, a black and white Paper Kite Butterfly, and an orange Julia Butterfly.