Dec. 5, 2019

My apologies for this site going "dark" for awhile. The absence of content at this site was partly due to our web server closing down and the time it takes to get the new server up and running; there were a lot of glitches! The horticultural projects at the Greene Co. location had priority, given the value of the plants, which number in the tens of thousands.

The McIntire Botanical Garden group has secured land and has designs for a very ambitious botanical garden in Charlottesville, VA. To me, it seems more like a landscaped park, since classical botanical gardens typically have one or more conservatories (greenhouses). One of its features is a focus on Virginia flora, which is interesting and likely easier to manage. The designs posted are quite lovely.

Our own hopes for a garden are a bit different, as shown in the .pdf proposal. In addition to preserving the Greene County Botanique collection of rare and endangered plants, we hope for a more classical style of botanical garden, where visitors can escape the cold of winter and enter a tropical world, seeing wonders which are new and enchanting. As rainforests disappear, such a facility can help educate and garner support for preserving what is left on this planet. An appreciation of nature is required to preserve it, both in the USA and abroad.

There are so many breathtaking plants, living in a variety of ecosystems, making a spectacular display is relatively easy. However, one must know these plants exist and what they require. The painting takes shape after the palette is full.

Preservation and beauty make a fine pair.

Best Wishes, Rob Sacilotto

Older news follows:

A a botanical garden will be established at McIntire Park, thanks largely to the Mcintire Botanical Garden Group . Meanwhile, the vast collection of rare plants, now housed in Greene County, still has no clear future. A site for a new greenhouse in Greene County is being cleared for housing most of the tropicals in the collection. The Greene location is considered a medium term way to keep the plants alive and cared for.

Volunteers willing to work with plants or site development at the Greene location, please contact Rob. We could also use someone willing to fill in and help process the 501(c)(3)/nonprofit paperwork.

To avoid attracting spam "spiders", the e-mail addresses below are images-you must type them in; do not copy/paste. We'll add contacts for additional board members soon.
for Chairman Robert Sacilotto, please e-mail:
Robert Sacilotto's e-mail image
phone: (434)985-3060

for Public Relations/Outreach, and Treasurer, please e-mail:
Lonnie Murray's e-mail image
phone: (540)456-6239

Best wishes to all, Rob Sacilotto

Some of you may have heard yours truly on the radio. WVTF reporter Sandy Haufman came by the Botanique nursery and gave a brief report on the preservation part of the project, the pitcher plants. This group of plants is a great way to draw attention and public interest. A National Geographic photographer and writer came out some years ago and the preservation project for pitcher plants appeared in the magazine (May,1992, p.73). Back then, the idea of combining the preservation project with a botanical garden was still in its infancy. The idea of a botanical garden in Charlottesville is an old one; it's even part of the master plan. We first started "pushing" for progress in 2005.

Sadly, many botanical gardens are poorly designed and suffer in later years. In these tight economic times, it takes forward thinking people to anticipate possible problems and solve them. For example, a great number of botanical gardens have had disastrous freezes due to fuel shortages or the high cost of heating greenhouse(s). We’re pushing for modern, energy efficient designs with safeguards to protect plants and facilities. One possibility to circumvent or reduce fossil fuel use has been used for decades by commercial growers, who know how to cut costs. This system uses renewable wood, especially “scrap” wood, to fire a hot water heating system. The furnaces produce some of the best quality heat at minimal cost. Furthermore, unlike a wood stove, these furnaces get hot enough to destroy creosote and smoke. I recently visited a nursery in Scottsville, Virginia and saw one in action. Even though the system was cranking out enough heat for several greenhouses, there was no smoke coming out of the chimney! The owner told me it was one of his two smartest investments.

Another option is to use “night blankets”, where practical. These are insulating materials which are mechanically put in place after closing hours. Since night time is when most heat loss occurs, this can be a great way to save money and be more eco-friendly. Most botanical gardens have ancillary or “production” greenhouses which are not part of the big display area; they get the plants ready for the public, kind of like a dressing room. These structures can easily incorporate the above solutions.

During summer months, a different problem arises: heat gain from the sun. My own greenhouse uses nifty little automatic vent lifters that push open roof vents without electricity. These clever gadgets use a liquid which expands when it gets warm, causing a piston to raise the vents. Combined with a well-designed air flow, the operating cost per day is next to nothing and it’s quiet.

These are but some of the ideas we hope to contribute. For right now, we’re in the process of getting our organization set up as a future nonprofit (501c3) corporation.

Sincerely, Rob Sacilotto
Charlottesville Botanical Garden
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image of plant "Queen's Tears".
Queen's Tears (Bilbergia alfonsi-johannis)
image of Cattleya species
Tropical Orchid Cattleya guttata var. leopoldii
image of star flower
Star Flower (Stapelia variegata)