Thursday, October 18, 2012

High class blooms and high flyers

Note the multifaceted eye of this tropical beauty
Not long ago I had the pleasure of judging the Garden Club of Virginia Rose Show in Richmond.  

As an accredited horticultural judge for the American Rose Society, I get to eye the best blooms grown by the best exhibitors around, and despite the summer drought in the mid-Atlantic, this show had some beauties.

Let Freedom Ring
The hybrid tea Let Freedom Ring was named Queen and deservedly took her place reigning over the other winning blooms on the head table. 

But the end of the judging proved to be just the beginning of a day full of more visual treats.

The show was held at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, a historic property (once owned by Patrick Henry) that features over 50 acres of gorgeous gardens and 9,000 types of plants.

More than a dozen themed gardens include a Healing Garden, Sunken Garden, a Victorian garden, and an interactive Children’s Garden. There’s also a classical domed Conservatory, a Garden Café, Tea Room and the most enticing gift shop I’ve visited. 

The rose garden is a recent addition and although relatively new, it is already a stunner with more than 80 varieties and 1800 roses selected for repeat performance, fragrance and disease resistance. 

The visitors I saw were literally spoiled for choice when it came to finding the most sweetly scented blooms in the display.

Love this bench outside the conservatory
Surrounded by beauty

Although it was hard to tear myself away from the roses, I soon made a beeline for the “Butterflies Live!” exhibit in the North Wing of the Conservatory. 

Dozens of exotic tropicals fluttered around me and posed for photos on nectar plants and in the bowls of fruit set out for their dining pleasure.

While strolling through the exhibit I noted at least 15 varieties of butterflies and moths including the Blue Morpho, Postman, Zebra Longwing, Sara Longwing and the Giant Owl, named for the prominent “eye” on the wings.
The Postman

A Postman butterfly  landed on my arm which, according to lore, means a loved one from the past has come to say hello, or good luck will be coming my way. (I hope both legends are true.)

The life spans of these delicate creatures vary. While Monarch butterflies are around for six to eight months, the lime-green Luna moth with its four-inch wingspan lives only about a week.
Luna moth
A Red Cattleheart?

As I left, it was sad to see a couple of the brightly colored jewels lying still on the exhibit floor. 

And it was sad to return to the rose show to find a bloom that was the picture of perfection a few hours earlier with its head drooping in the vase.

Blue Morph
Of course we know these things of beauty can’t last, but just seeing them lifts our spirits.  

And we are reminded whether it’s a rose, a butterfly or a good friend, we should appreciate each one more with every passing day.


Janet, The Queen of Seaford said...

Lynn, I don't know how you can judge a rose, I fall in love with each one I see....guess I am just fickle.
Lewis Ginter is a great garden, wish I had been there more often. We have had a number of butterflies in the last two days, funny how they come in waves.

sh said...

Thank you for sharing your beautiful photos! They are exceptional! Butterflies are wonderful in closeup and with your photos you can study their markings much more easily than in real life! What a treasure you have shared with us. Thanks again.

Lynn Hunt said...

Janet as judges we are supposed to be neutral but it is darn difficult. I always come home with rosé names scrawled on my show schedule because I always see something new I'd love to have. I guess fortunately my garden is not big enough for them all!

Lynn Hunt said...

sh, thank you so much for your kind comments. I do enjoy photography and it is pleasing to know you've enjoyed seeing these gorgeous butterflies.

Jason said...

The Butterflies Live exhibit also came to the Chicago Botanic Garden, and it was truly mesmerizing.

Lynn Hunt said...

So glad you were able to enjoy that wonderful exhibit too, Jason. It is rather humbling to be in the presence of such beauty.

Sunil Patel said...

Hi Lynn, wow, look at some of those butterflies - that bench looks really pretty too. I bet you felt really spoiled in the rose garden!

Lynn Hunt said...

Sunil, I love the rose garden even though it is not one of the largest I've seen. The plantings of the Austin rose Evelyn were just superb. I will be back there next October to judge another show-- already looking forward to it!

Jonah Holland @Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden said...

Lynn -- Thank you for telling your readers about our Garden! What a great blog post with fabulous photography. You really captured the essence of Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.
We can't wait for you to come back next October too! Also, I'm happy to connect with you on Pinterest & Twitter.

Lynn Hunt said...

Hi Jonah! I'm so glad you enjoyed the posting. I love Lewis Ginter and just wish I lived closer. Visiting your garden is one of the highlights of my year.

Folks outside of the Richmond area should consider taking a day trip to see the gardens. Check their website for details and directions. Don't miss the Garden Cafe, Robins Tea House and (my fave) the gift shop!

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