A Lover of Roses
Richmond lost an outstanding community member and supporter this week. Mrs. J. Harwood (Louise B.) Cochrane was a vibrant and vital force who supported many nonprofits and made our community a better place. Our hearts are with her husband of 80 years, Mr. J. Harwood Cochrane, and the entire Cochrane family upon her passing.
The Cochrane Rose Garden at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is the result of Mrs. Cochrane’s philanthropy. If you’ve ever stopped to smell the roses or attended an event or wedding there, you’ve been the direct recipient of her gift. An excerpt from the book Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden: 25 Years and Growing tells the story:
“Throughout her life, Louise B. Cochrane has expressed her admiration for roses through her paintings and personal gardens. In 2007, this “Lover of Roses” decided that the Richmond community would benefit from an expansion and reconfiguration of the Rose Garden and Belvedere that she originally funded in 2001. Her gift to the Garden transformed that dream to reality – now and for years to come thousands will delight in the roses due to Mrs. Cochrane’s benevolence.”
In 2009 the expanded Cochrane Rose Garden was featured in the American Rose Society’s magazine American Rose. The periodical took the unusual step of featuring a rose garden at a botanical garden on its cover and allowed the Garden’s then-Executive Director Frank Robinson to pen the feature story. Robinson commended Mrs. Cochrane for her dedication to build a rose garden where the community would come and enjoy flowers that gave her so much pleasure.
The Cochrane Rose Garden is the heart of the Garden. With 1,800 fragrant roses, terraced lawn, belvedere and stone patio, it’s the perfect outdoor stage and community gathering place for musical performances, weddings, and garden celebrations. Each October we celebrate Rose Fest and this year on a warm, sunny day, the Latin Ballet of Virginia invited visitors to dance with them in the Cochrane Rose Garden. Most recently, we held the countdown to the Garden’s popular holiday light show Dominion GardenFest of Lights in the Cochrane Rose Garden. Others find the space appealing during quieter times and enjoy it is a place of peace and refuge.
Mrs. Cochrane’s connections to the Garden extended beyond the Rose Garden. She was a talented artist and her passion for plants was transmitted to canvas in paintings and sketches. Her floral artwork graced the halls of the Garden’s Kelly Education Center in the fall of 2008 and again in 2014 for all to enjoy.
We are grateful to Mrs. Cochrane for providing a place for the community to relax and smell the roses. The Garden’s Executive Director Shane Tippett expresses our sentiments well:
We shall miss her for her love of roses and gardens, her appreciation and affinity for other’s art, her talent, devotion, energy and diligence in the creation of her own art, and perhaps most of all for the unbridled joy she exhibited in all these endeavors.