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Diggin' It

Roses and butterflies

By Lynn Hunt / October 7, 2009

A section of the new rose garden at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, Va.

Photo courtesy of Lynn Hunt

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Recently I had the honor of judging the Colonial District Rose Show in Richmond, Va. As an accredited horticultural judge for the American Rose Society, I get to eye the best blooms grown by the best exhibitors in the mid-Atlantic.

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This show was really special because among the entries was the finest example of the hybrid tea rose Veteran’s Honor I have ever seen. And that sighting was just the beginning of a day full of 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,  Garden Café, tearoom, and the most enticing gift shop I’ve visited.

The rose garden (first photo above) is a recent addition, which I mentioned in a March article about Kordes Fairy Tale roses.  Although relatively new, this garden is already a stunner with more than 80 varieties and 1,800 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.

Although it was hard to tear myself away from the roses, I soon made a beeline for the “Butterflies Live!” exhibit that continues through Oct. 11. 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 its wings see second photo above).

The life spans of these delicate creatures vary. While monarch butterflies exist for a few months, the lime-green luna moth (third photo above) with its four-inch wingspan lives only about a week.

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.

These things of beauty didn't last, but just seeing them lifts our spirits. And reminds us whether it’s a rose, butterfly, or a good friend, we should appreciate them more with every passing year.

PSSST: Butterflies are generally more active on sunny days in the morning and the early afternoon. If you visit an exhibit, keep in mind they often like to land on the ground so be sure to watch your step!

Lynn Hunt, the Rose Whisperer, is an accredited horticultural judge and a Consulting Rosarian Emeritus for the American Rose Society. She has won dozens of awards for her writing in newspapers, magazines, and television. She grows roses and other plants in her garden on the Eastern Shore of Maryland

Editor’s note: To read more posts by Lynn, see our blog archive. The Monitor’s main gardening page offers articles on many gardening topics. See also our RSS feed. You may want to visit Gardening With the Monitor on Flickr. Take part in the discussions and get answers to your gardening questions. If you join the group (it’s free), you can upload your garden photos and enter our next contest.

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