If you really think about it, they are one of the strangest creatures on Earth. They start out with hundreds of little feet on worm-like bodies (except for the inch worm, which is missing most of it’s legs in the middle) that eat either a strict vegetarian diet or eat other bugs, they then wrap themselves in silk for anywhere from 2 weeks to months, and emerge as these weird colorful 6 legged creatures that can only consume liquids through their strange proboscis drinking straws. Fun facts: The butterfly’s proboscis comes out in two pieces which the butterfly then has to zip together. And those 6 legs are good for more than just landing on things. Each leg has taste receptors on the feet.
If you have not been to the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens’ Butterflies LIVE!, you have one weekend left to do so. Each year the gardens grow and house a variety of different butterflies and moths. They occupy the area of the main greenhouse portion of the gardens, and fly around you as you walk through and gawk at all the colors. The last day for the butterfly exhibit is October 14.
The gardens themselves are named after Lewis Ginter (originally Lewis Guenther), a business-man, Civil War Veteran (are you beginning to sense a theme here about famous Richmonders?), and philanthropist from in the late 1800’s. Ginter is another person (we learned about Cutshaw last time) who was instrumental in shaping what we now know as Richmond. His name graces the Northside neighborhood of Ginter Park and he commissioned the design and construction of The Jefferson Hotel. More importantly to our story, he created an amusement park in what is now Lakeside, which is where the Botanical Gardens are located.
Many people who have lived in Lakeside for quite some time have no idea where the lake is that they are supposed to be to the side of. It is actually part of Belmont Golf Course, the first formal (suit, tie, nice shoes…) golf course in the Richmond area.
Lakeside is currently not served very well by the public transit system. In it’s day Ginter had the trolley line extended. You used to be able to hop on a trolley in town and ride to the end of the line and visit the zoo and cycling club that Ginter had built. Today, it’s best to hop in your car and drive out Boulevard/Hermitage/Lakeside Avenue. (Seriously, why does it feel like every street in the Richmond area has 3 names?)
The gardens are open from 9 – 5 and the cost of admission is $11 for adults and $7 for children. The gardens are constantly changing with the seasons, and will soon be lit up for the holidays! If you enjoy your visit, you should also consider becoming a member!
Are there any other RVA locations you want to know more about? Leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!