Stroll back in time to late nineteenth-century Richmond, Virginia—the age of farms and factories, Civil War and Reconstruction, bustling city centers and streetcar suburbs. This was the era of the Garden's namesake Major Lewis Ginter—a brilliant businessman, refined gentleman, and generous philanthropist whose influence continues today.Ginter purchased the land that would become the Botanical Garden in 1884 and ten years later he constructed the Lakeside Wheel Club. The one-story structure would become a fashionable gathering place for sports cyclists and socially minded belles. Upon his death in 1897 at the age of 73, a Northern newspaper proclaimed Major Ginter "the richest man south of the Potomac," and almost every charitable institution in the city was remembered in his will. The confirmed bachelor magnanimously bequeathed his fortune, estimated at seven to ten million dollars, to the city he loved and to his beloved niece Grace Arents.
In 1913, Arents, who was trained as a nurse, turned her attention to sick children who struggled with illnesses related to the city's pollution and overcrowded conditions. Convinced that a fresh country environment would support recuperation, Arents purchased approximately ten acres and the abandoned Lakeside Wheel House in the city's north side. She remodeled her uncle's former club house in a Dutch colonial style and removed the roof to add a second story for bedrooms, classroom, playroom, and library. Gardens were developed for beauty and food production, and the convalescent complex was appropriately named "Bloemendaal"—Dutch for "valley of flowers"—in tribute to her family's ancestry.
Later with the founding of the Instructional Visiting Nurses Association, the convalescent home was no longer needed and Arents occupied the house with her companion, Mary Garland Smith. In 1926 Grace Arents died at the age of 78. She willed life-rights to Smith and stipulated after Smith's death the city of Richmond was to develop the property as a botanical garden in honor of her uncle. Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden was established as an independent non-profit corporation in 1984.
Philanthropy and an appreciation for the importance of plants sparked the Garden’s humble beginnings, and they continue to inspire the success, vitality, and fulfillment of Grace Arents’ dream, which is realized through Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden’s mission is education; our passion is connecting plants and people to improve our community.
The Garden strives to be a primary resource to the community for learning about the botanical world – its beauty, its heritage, its pleasures and its significance to the web of life, and to our very survival. We are committed firmly to stewardship and sustainability, especially involving water. Following the model established by our first benefactor, Grace Arents, we embrace our responsibility to engage the community, to increase the appreciation for and understanding of the natural world, and through these, to enrich lives and enhance the environment in which we live.
In 2011, Garden visitation exceeded more than 310,000, and the number of membership households exceeded 13,000. Structured Children's Education programs at the Garden served more than 13,000 children during this time. In 2011, the Garden was also awarded the National Medal for Museum and Library Service by the Institute for Museum and Library Services – becoming only the third botanical garden in the country to win this prestigious honor. LGBG was named the area's top visited paid attraction by the RMCVB and voted as the "Best 2010 Special Event Venue" by Richmond Magazine.
While much has been accomplished in the Garden's first 28 years, the Garden grows every year.
Current goals include:
The 2009 Strategic Plan initiated a totally new committee structure for the Garden’s Board of Directors (BOD) built around specific goals for the next decade. This has re-energized the Board around specific interest areas and has helped to define specific experience and expertise for the recruitment of new members of the BOD. These committees welcome ad-hoc members, which has been very effective in engaging highly specialized individuals, as well as vetting new potential members of the Board.
The Board has established a Board of Associates (BOA), a leadership opportunity for the next generation of Garden leaders. The BOA’s signature fundraising event, the highly successful Cheers to Art! Auction, is celebrating its 3rdyear of engaging artists and new visitors with the Garden community. The BOA has become the wellspring for participation on the BOD (a former head of the BOA is the current vice president of the BOD).
Frank has degrees in Horticulture, Japanese Language and Psychology. He attended Haywood Technical Institute (NC) and Earlham College (IN), and studied for a year at Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan.
Prior to his current post, Frank was Executive Director of the American Horticultural Society in Alexandria, VA; Estate Manager of one of the most exclusive estates in Virginia; and, the manager of grounds and horticulture at Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY. Preceding his work in Horticulture, Frank’s early career was in education and therapy services to autistic and multiple-handicapped children. As a youth, he studied oboe at Eastman School of Music, Rochester, NY.
He has served on the boards of the Arts Council of Richmond, The Richmond Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Landscape Peer Review Committee for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Hollywood Cemetery, and is the past Board President of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, Richmond Affiliate.
As Executive Director, Shane Tippett is responsible for all daily operations, staffing and financial activity for Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. Tippett has been with Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden since 2004; first as Assistant Executive Director (September 2004 - October 2011) and now as Executive Director.
As Assistant Executive Director he oversaw administration and IT, finance, budgeting, volunteers, guest services, and the auxiliary revenue centers of the Garden Shop, Facility Rental, the Garden Café, the Robins Tea House and catering through the Garden’s exclusive food service partner: Meriwether Godsey. To date, he is most proud of the extraordinary work of the Lewis Ginter and Meriwether Godsey staffs in pursuing the Garden’s mission with an ever-expanding circle in our community, in ever more inspirational, effective and efficient ways.
Prior to Lewis Ginter, Tippett worked a dozen years in other non-profit organizations. He was the Assistant Head for Finance and Operations at St. Catherine’s School, an Episcopal girl's school in Richmond. Before that he served as the Manager of the Virginian Diocesan Center at Roslyn, a year-round full service church conference and retreat center.
Tippett was born and raised in Montana. He attended the U. S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. After graduation, he served 11 years on active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps, and 10 years as a Reservist during his time at Roslyn. While on active duty, he held various department head positions while on flight status as a bombardier navigator in A-6E Intruder squadrons, and subsequently as an AV-8B Harrier pilot. Tippett retired as a Lieutenant Colonel.
Tippett’s passion for plants was kindled in the early 1990s by a Lewis Ginter arborist who mentored Tippett on the care of specimen trees at Roslyn. This passion underlies his firm conviction in the transformative power of gardens to re-shape and renew communities, families and individuals.
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Our short term goals are to
1. Maintain or improve teacher satisfaction.
95% of teachers participating in group programs or teacher workshops will be satisfied or very satisfied.
2. Maintain or increase repeat group program enrollment
50% of groups enrolled in programs in the last three years will re-enroll in at least one successive year
3. Increase the impact of teacher workshops
250 teachers representing 5,000 students will participate in workshops
Lewis Ginter is committed to the education of children as the future stewards of our most valuable natural resources, and is particularly devoted to providing hands-on experiences of nature and interactive learning opportunities to underserved populations.
Our children's education programming addresses the need for children to engage with nature in a way that stimulates their curiosity and encourages appreciation for the central importance of plants in both the natural world and human society. The goals we pursue are not all easily measurable – the enjoyment of nature; increasing interest in and knowledge about plant processes; increased appreciation for the role of plants in providing for basic needs of food, shelter, clothing and medicines; and – for some – the first sputtering flame of a lifelong passion for science, scientific observation and experimentation.
In this dynamic, ever-changing "learning landscape," adult students can expand their knowledge of the plant world, develop gardening skills, and sample the best in horticulture and landscape design.
Click here to learn more about Adult Education programs.
The long term goal of the Community Kitchen Garden is to serve as a model to demonstrate the importance of plants to human life and to teach and encourage visitors and volunteers to plant produce gardens for themselves and for others in their community.
The Garden has made tremendous strides laying the groundwork for the larger objectives of our long-term strategic plan, despite challenging times for our community and nation.
The top priorities for the Garden's programs include the following:
A. Establish a comprehensive surface water management program as an ecological operating base and a fundamental educational resource related to the James River and Chesapeake Bay ecologies. This includes serving as a public interpretive site for major university research initiatives.
B. Creation of a comprehensive children’s educational campus, with specific focus on teaching children about the importance of nature and their role in it. This initiative will build on a current annual base of 13,000 children and families served through current formal school programs and an additional 40,000 children served through informal visits to the Children’s Garden.
C. Restoration and preservation of the historic buildings and gardens on our campus.
D. Expansion of our plant collections, with the specific goal of using those collections to support educational initiatives and to enhance visitation. This goal has driven several specific projects, including major orchid displays in in 2011 and 2012, the 2012 renovation and restoration of the West Island Garden and the 2013-14 addition of a cherry tree collection and pathways around our principal water feature, Lake Sydnor.
E. Expansion of our community partnership and outreach, using our expertise and experience to have impact and serve as a resource beyond our current campus. This goal has directed work with the Tricycle Gardens community garden project, Feedmore, Richmond Redevelopment Housing Authority, and our water sustainability initiatives with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, Virginia Commonwealth University Life Sciences and the VCU Rice Center, Nelson-Byrd-Woltz (one of the leading design firms in the U.S. specializing in regenerative design).
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
The largest challenge to income is volatility of the markets and the impact on the Garden's invested funds. However, with careful stewardship of daily operations and a well-managed contingency reserve, the garden continues to operate "in the black."
Copyright © 2014 The Community Foundation Serving Richmond & Central Virginia7501 Boulders View Drive, Richmond, VA 23225804-330-7400 | www.tcfrichmond.org