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by Shane Tippett, Executive Director, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden  

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in 1986.

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in 1986.

When Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden was formed thirty years ago in March, it consisted of a handful of empty, aging buildings and 73 acres of promise. As we celebrate this anniversary year, it is good to remember that the hallmarks of a successful, maturing botanical garden are in part physical. Frequently dubbed “living” museums, it is in the  nature of botanical gardens to always be moving and growing. Lewis Ginter today has 82 acres of Conservatory and greenhouses, lakes and lawns, paths and bridges, classrooms and meeting rooms, shop and restaurants. The collection holds thousands of different plants, many well on their way to being extraordinary specimens. Individual gardens have grown in variety and distinctiveness. We have become better known and respected in our community, our country and around the world.

The accompanying articles brim with energy and passion, and those are also hallmarks of a successful, maturing botanical garden. Our best plants, gardens and ideas have been nurtured for three decades by thousands of individual volunteers and hundreds staff who have committed sweat and brilliance to our mission of connecting plants and people. Millions have frequented Lewis Ginter since its founding, and many of them now see the world through eyes of knowledge, gratitude and wonder as a result.

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in 2005.

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in 2005.

An eventful past, yet now is the most exciting time to be involved at Lewis Ginter. Skilled, weatherworn hands of experienced gardeners are being joined by new hands: young hands without calluses and eager hands yet to get soil  under their fingernails. We are all feeling a heightened sense of connectedness to our world, and the tug to plant and prune and learn and enjoy is only growing stronger. We begin to realize that a botanical garden is not only a living museum; it is a museum that can help us learn how to live.

What the next three decades hold for us is anyone’s guess, but odds are this — we shall continue to move and grow; the tug is that strong. We shall continue to engage and educate; our passion is that strong. We shall tend the good earth.

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