Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
The Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden was chartered by court decree in 1984. The property was originally purchased by Lewis Ginter in 1884, where he built the “Lakeside Wheel Club” for Richmond bicyclists. After Ginter’s 1897 death, his niece, Grace Arents, bought the abandoned club, remodeled and founded a convalescent home for sick children.
Eventually, the need for the convalescent home ceased, and Arents moved into the building, renaming it “Bloemendaal”, which is Dutch for “Valley of the Flowers.” Among her final wishes, Arents arranged for the City of Richmond to ultimately take possession of the property and to establish a botanical garden honoring her uncle. After several years and some litigation, the Garden Club of Virginia was finally able to honor Arents’ wishes, and in 1989 restored the Grace Arents Garden as the first site in the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.
Today, the mission of the garden is to provide “education to the community about the plant world, promote the best in horticulture and landscape design, and work toward the goal of being a leader in botanical and applied horticultural research”. More than a dozen themed gardens now delight guests on a property of 50+ acres. The classical domed Conservatory is a stunning tribute to the people and resources that make the facility possible.
The gardens are open year-round, except on January 1, Thanksgiving Day, December 24 and December 25. Visitors can learn about the rich history of the site at the Visitor’s Center, browse the Garden Shop, or enjoy a refreshing break at the café or tea house. Seminars and lectures are scheduled throughout the year, along with special events including live performances and festivals. The Garden’s website is regularly updated with scheduled events.
One of the most anticipated events each year is the Dominion GardenFest of Lights, scheduled to run from November 25, 2011 through January 9, 2012. The gardens will be illuminated by 700,000 lights, and children can meet both Santa and the Butterfly Fairy on select dates. A huge fire pit is created in the Children’s Garden, weather-permitting, featuring S’Mores and hot chocolate to warm guests inside and out. Throughout the holiday season, live performers and carolers fill the gardens with joyful noise. While many of the Historic Richmond Inns book over a year in advance for the holiday period, you can still find available dates at some properties, so make your travel plans today!