A Garden for the Community
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden was founded in 1984 as a community oriented, non-profit garden. The Garden is comprised of 81 acres and includes more than a dozen themed garden areas, including a Conservatory, Children’s Garden and Community Kitchen Garden growing fresh produce for area food banks.
The Garden’s mission is connecting plants and people to improve communities.
Explore a brief timeline of the Garden in the gallery below.
History of Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
A group of botanists, horticulturists and interested citizens banded together to form the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Inc. to uphold the will of Arents. A lawsuit ensued. An amicable settlement allowed the formation of the Garden. The Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden was chartered by court decree.
Mary Garland Smith died at the age of 100. The city of Richmond took possession of the property. The city investigated plans for a botanical garden but none of them came to fruition and the property languished.
Grace Arents died at the age of 78 at her home Bloemendaal Farm. She willed life-rights to Smith and stipulated after Smith’s death that the city of Richmond was to develop the property as a botanical garden honoring Lewis Ginter. She is buried at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond.
Grace Arents, Ginter’s niece, bought the abandoned Lakeside Wheel Club. She remodeled the structure, adding a second story, and made it a convalescent home for sick children from the city.
Later with the founding of the Instructional Visiting Nurses Association, the convalescent home was no longer needed and Arents moved into the house with her companion, Mary Garland Smith. She called it Bloemendaal in tribute to the Ginter family’s Dutch ancestors and developed gardens on the property. Bloemendaal means “valley of flowers.”
On October 2, Lewis Ginter died at the age of 73. His death took place at his country home called Westbrook, on land now belonging to the Westminster-Canterbury retirement community. His death was greatly mourned throughout the city, as he was known for his kindness and philanthropy. Lewis Ginter is buried at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond.
Lewis Ginter bought nine acres on Lakeside Lake and allowed his colleagues in the Commonwealth and Westmoreland Clubs to build the Lakeside Wheel Club, a one-story structure that was later modified and incorporated into Bloemendaal House. The Wheel Club was a destination for Richmond bicyclists.