Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden – Accessible Beauty
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden was recently named the number two public garden in America in 10Best.com’s Reader’s Choice poll. The Garden is located just off Interstate 95, near Richmond, VA. It is situated on 80 acres, with more than 7,500 unique plants from around the world. It also possesses the only classically domed conservatory in the mid-Atlantic.
Accessibility For The Aging Photographer
For the aging photographer, the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden offers wheelchair accessible facilities and gardens. A limited number of wheelchairs are available in the Robins Visitors Center on a first-come, first served basis. Guests are welcome to bring personal motorized wheelchairs or scooters into the Garden. The Garden’s two dining facilities, the Garden Café and Robins Tea House, are accessible by wheelchair. The Visitors Center is the gateway to the Garden. It features admissions services, an exhibit gallery, meeting spaces, outdoor terraces, the Garden Shop and the Garden Café. To reach the Visitors Center you can use handicapped accessible sidewalks and automatic doors at the main and group entrances. Garden walkways and paths are mostly hardscape, with main walkways comprised of aggregate concrete, sealed concrete, paving stone, asphalt and brick. Handicapped accessible parking spaces are available in all parking lots. The accessible spaces closest to the Robins Visitors Center are on the group entrance side of the building. As an aging photographer, I enjoy the accessibility and easy walking at Lewis Ginter. There are benches throughout the property for a quick rest while you’re busy photographing the wonderful plants and flowers. I especially love the Rose Garden and the Conservatory.
Hours And Admission
The Garden is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Dec. 24 and Dec. 25. Members, Free Adults, $11 Seniors (55+) $10 Children (3-12) $7 Children Under 3, Free
Exploring Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
There are sixteen garden areas for the aging photographer to explore at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. Here are a few of my favorites.
The Central Garden
Connecting the Visitors Center, the Conservatory, and the Education and Library Complex, the Central Garden includes three acres of progressing garden “rooms,” featuring classical design and artistry, fascinating plants, intimate spaces and dramatic views. Gardens in the Central Garden include:
The North Terrace Garden
Upon exiting the Visit9rs Center, you will come upon a courtyard with a central fountain of glazed tiles depicting magnolia leaves. I find the sounds of the splashing water and sights and smells of the surrounding plantings to be a wonderful introduction to the larger Garden.
The Four Seasons Garden
This is a classical early twentieth-century Arts and Crafts design walled garden. As you walk, Enjoy the whimsy of the frog fountain and the mythical Green Man, who represents the connection between man and nature. The Four Seasons Gardens shows bloom and color throughout the year, including plants which are attractive to the eye even when dormant.
The Healing Garden
The Healing Garden reflects one of the fundamental uses of plants – for medicine and healing. To the left you will find a small garden whose size and symmetry recall medieval cloister gardens. It is designed as a place for spiritual healing through contemplation, meditation and reflection. To the right, the elliptical beds accentuated with an oversized granite mortar and pestle reflect the medicinal significance of plants. This garden style is inspired from the1545 Renaissance Garden in Padua, Italy.
The Rose Garden
The Rose Garden features more than 1,800 roses and 80 varieties carefully selected for re-bloom, fragrance and disease-resistance. Meandering paths allow guests to enjoy the roses up-close. The stone gazebo and beeches also offer a wonderful place to rest in the shade while enjoying the beautifully framed views across the lake to the historic area of the Garden.
The Conservatory is the “Jewel of the Garden.” This 11,000 square-foot complex houses exotic and unusual plants from around the world in its permanent collection and features beautiful seasonal displays. Crowned by a 63-foot-tall dome, the Conservatory includes a central Palm House, a semi-tropical wing featuring our orchid collection, and two wings with changing themed displays full of seasonal color and interest. The butterfly exhibit is now open in the Conservatory’s North Wing, with flying and resting flashes of color everywhere. The exhibit hours are 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily, through October 12, 2014. Literally hundreds of tropical butterflies will be feeding, fluttering, and flying all around you. Newly hatched butterflies are released daily at 10 a.m. and Saturdays at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. See my short take on the butterfly exhibit elsewhere on this site.
The Asian Garden
The Asian Valley displays plants native to East Asia which are adaptive to growing conditions in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern U.S. The garden features dramatic tree forms, cascading water and the inclusion of rocks as a major design element.
The Henry M. Flagler Perennial Garden
This three-acre garden displays more than 770 species and varieties, one of the most diverse perennial gardens on the East Coast. It’s ever-changing palette of perennials, shrubs, trees and bulbs provides rich opportunities for the aging photographers. This garden includes portions of the Birding Trail, a Woodland Walk, and the romantic sculpture Slow Dance. I hope you enjoy Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden as I have over the years. It’s a great spot for accessible photo opportunities for the aging photographer.
My typical photo gear when shooting at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden includes a Nikon D7000 (now replaced by the D7100), a Nikon 18-300 mm stabilized zoom lens, a Nikon ML-3 wireless remote, a Nikon SB-800 flash (now replaced with the SB-910), and an Adorama Flashpoint F-2560 carbon fiber monopod with an Adorama Flashpoint F-2 ball head. All the gear is carried in a light weight Lowepro Flipside Sport 20L Camera Daypack. I also use a pair of Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork trekking poles to ease walking the Garden.
Resources – Gear
Getting To Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is right off Interstate 95, about two hours south of Washington, DC, and is convenient to Interstates 64 and 295. Located at 1800 Lakeside Avenue in Richmond, Va., the Garden sits at the corner of Lakeside Avenue and Hilliard Road. It is just minutes north of downtown Richmond and is close to many other area attractions, accommodations and dining. If you need help with directions, please call (804) 262-9887, ext. 300. From Downtown Richmond (I-95 North) On I-95 North take Exit 80, the Lakeside Avenue exit. Keep to the right and take the right at the first light onto Lakeside Avenue. (You’ll see the brown Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden sign.) Follow Lakeside Avenue. You will see the Garden entrance just after you cross the intersection at Lakeside Avenue and Hilliard Road. From Washington, D.C. (I-95 South) From I-95 South take Exit 83B, the Parham Road Rt. 73 West exit. (Right before this exit you will see the brown Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden sign.) On Parham, quickly get into your far left lane. At the second stoplight, take a left onto Brook Road (also known as Route 1 South). At the third stoplight, take a right onto Lakeside Avenue. (At the light you will see a brown Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden sign.) As you go down Lakeside Avenue, you will see the Garden entrance to your right just before you reach the Hilliard Road intersection. From Charlottesville (I-64 East) Come into Richmond on I-64 East. Get on to I-95 North to Washington, D.C. Follow directions for I-95 North. From Williamsburg (I-64 West) Come into Richmond on I-64 West. Get on I-95 North to Washington, D.C. Follow directions for I-95 North.
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