The phrase “last will and testament” evoke a lot of different feelings. Beyond the finality of death, there’s the desire to carry out those last wishes. When Mrs. Betsy Saunders and Mrs. Mary Mitchell learned about philanthropist Grace Arents’ will and that her intention to have gardens planted in memory of her uncle, entrepreneur Lewis Ginter, had yet to be carried out, the women were spurred to action. We met Betsy and Mary onsite of an Institute of Museum and Library Services National Medal awardee, the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, Virginia, when they participated in StoryCorps.
LGBG sits on an historic property of over 50 acres of beautiful gardens, but the organization brings more than beautiful nature to it’s community: LGBG is a place to volunteer, somewhere to listen to music with the family, and even a good afternoon picnic spot. Its public programming educates the community on gardening and horticulture, allowing youth to realize that, yes, they eat plants.
That’s LGBG today, but back in 1981, 13 years after the city of Richmond took possession of the property, the land looked quite different.