A Garden for the Community

The Garden By the Numbers

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Connecting People with Plants

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden was founded in 1984 as a community oriented, non-profit garden. It was made possible  by Grace Arents (1848-1926), a Richmond philanthropist who bequeathed funds to create a botanical garden. Grace wished to honor her beloved uncle Lewis Ginter (1824-1897) and her will stipulates the name of the Garden.

Today, the Garden is comprised of 82 acres and includes more than a dozen themed garden areas, including a Conservatory, Children’s Garden and Kroger Community Kitchen Garden growing fresh produce for area food banks. In a typical year, the Garden welcomes and celebrates more than 450,000 guests, including 17,000 schoolchildren and 14,000 member households. A team of approximately 70 staff members are joined by 700 volunteers to make the Garden possible.

The Garden’s mission is connecting people with plants to improve communities.

Created by Grace

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden’s history begins with the generosity of its first benefactor, Grace Arents, the niece of 19th-century businessman and philanthropist Lewis Ginter. In 1913, Grace purchased the abandoned Lakeside Wheel Clubhouse and its 10 acres in Henrico County from her late uncle’s estate. Before long, she expanded her farm, now named “Bloemendaal” (Valley of Flowers, after an ancestral Dutch town), to 73 acres and a number of support buildings. In 1926 Grace died, and through her will bequeathed Bloemendaal Farm and an endowment of $100,000 to the City of Richmond for a “public park and botanical garden” to be named in honor of her beloved uncle Lewis Ginter.

 

Nurtured by Concerned Citizens

Grace gave life rights to her companion, Mary Garland Smith, and when Mary Garland died in 1968, Bloemendaal became the responsibility of the City of Richmond’s Department of Parks and Recreation. The City investigated several plans for a botanical garden, but none came to fruition. In the early 1980s, members of the Richmond Horticultural Association gathered a dedicated group of botanists, horticulturists, and concerned citizens in order to uphold the terms of Grace Arents’ bequest.

The Garden Blooms

In 1984, when the Garden was organized and chartered, the property was largely untended and the few buildings on site were suffering from age and neglect. It took three years to open to the public. After 36 years of rapid growth, the Garden now encompasses 82 acres, four lakes, 5,700 unique taxa of plants within 15 distinct outdoor gardens, 11 major buildings including a conservatory and greenhouse, plus an 80-acre branch site, the Lewis Ginter Nature Reserve. In recent years the Garden has been honored with inclusion in a number of top ten lists for botanical gardens in North America.

 

 

Images before the Garden

Learn About the Garden's Ties to Cycling History in Richmond

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