I was very pleased we were visiting Virginia in the Spring. So much seemed to be blossoming – redbud, dogwood, fruit trees and flowers, with my favorite the tulips. We visited the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden north of Richmond at the right time too, because the tulips were in full bloom with so many varieties and colors to delight! I couldn’t get a number as to how many tulip bulbs are planted here each year, but there are many, as during the season tulips can be found throughout the 50 acres of gardens. In the picture below, I loved the way these white tulips were edged in pink.
The tulip bulb has a rather interesting history. I figured they originated in Holland, but they actually are native to Turkey and Central Asia. The word tulip is thought to come from the Persian word for turban since the flowers are believed to resemble a turban. In the mid 1500’s the bulbs were brought to Europe and became popular to grow in Holland. Tulip bulbs were used as a form of currency and in the years of 1634-1637 bulb prices skyrocketed with the price of some bulbs actually equaling or exceeding the price of a home. This was a time known as “Tulipomania.” But the tulip market crashed with many losing their wealth.
The first tulip garden I can recall visiting was Keukenhof in Holland while we were stationed in Germany in the late 70’s and early 80’s. We were wowed by the place which probably started my love for the flower. I looked it up on the internet to see what is happening with Keukenhof now and the season is in full swing there with over 7,000,000 bulbs and 800 varieties of tulips! Perhaps my favorite color is maroon, so I was happy to see a mass of maroon tulips (below).
The centerpiece of the gardens is the lovely domed Conservatory, below.
The building houses a collection of tropical plants, trees and orchids. While we were there, one room had been set aside as a butterfly house that was fun to walk through and watch tropical butterflies flit about. The orchids were especially nice so I have pictured one below.
A temporary exhibition was on display called “Origami in the Garden” featuring over 20 origami sculptures of different sizes throughout the gardens. They were first created with a single sheet of paper folded with no cuts as a prototype and then a process known as lost wax casting used bronze, steel and aluminum for the final piece. The sculpture below is called “Flying Peace.” Hard to imagine this was created with a single uncut paper square with no scissors or glue involved.
Perhaps my favorite sculpture was rock, scissors, paper used to symbolize that well-known game people sometimes play to resolve a conflict. In this sculpture, the paper has won by folding itself into a crane and flying out of the scissor’s reach.
One thing that surprised me was the large separate area for children where they could practice gardening or play in the sand and water areas or climb the tree house. There are more than a dozen themed gardens here like the cherry tree walk along the lake, rose garden, Asian Valley and flower beds planted with the seasons. If I lived near here I would get a yearly membership to come back periodically and see what is blooming as the gardens are always changing. I talked to one man with a yearly membership who stated he had escaped that day to get away from a heated political discussion with his son and enjoy some peace. There are also two eateries here, a teahouse and cafe. We ate at the cafe and sat in a lovely room overlooking the tulip beds. The specialty roasted red pepper and crab soup was outstanding as was the salad bar.
A picture perfect and relaxing day at Lewis Ginter. I am looking forward to hopefully visiting more botanical gardens on our trip!
As always, thanks for reading! Heading to Colonial Williamsburg in the next blog!