Friday, October 16, 2009

Celebrating 10 Years

In October 1999, Daniel J. Stowe and his family joined with captains of industry, horticulturalists, designers, philanthropists, political dignitaries and even royalty in celebrating the realization of his dream. Ten years after setting aside nearly 400 acres, followed by years of planning and fundraising, Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden open in grand fashion.

This stunning piece of lakefront property that once served as a working farm has put itself on the proverbial map in those years, becoming a world class botanical garden recognized by its peers, the media and guests each and every day. Attendance, which has grown gradually over the years, has mushroomed to more than 100,000.

Attracting top talent and best practices from the botanical garden world—from Longwood’s Philadelphia, from Chicago, Dallas, San Diego and more—the Garden has developed at a rapid pace. HGTV named it one of the nation’s 20 great gardens and USA Today called it one of the top 10 gardens in which to “welcome fall with a flourish.”

The Garden now hosts nearly 10,000 people annually for education programs; it welcomes visitors from all 50 states, sees a large handful of guests from foreign countries and attracts 35% of the Garden’s attendance from outside the three local counties. What began as the small garden on New Hope Road has become a sprawling oasis of color, texture and structure. Since opening a little more than 18 months ago, The Orchid Conservatory has dazzled some 175,000 people and membership rolls have blossomed at nearly 5,000 individual, household and corporate members.

Since the formal gardens opened in 1999, several large and small additions from the master plan have been made. Among them was the opening of the White Garden. Since 2003 more than 100 couples have begun their lives together each year at this and surrounding spots. More impressive, was the January 2008 opening of The Orchid Conservatory, where tropical plants from around the world have come to the Carolinas in spectacular artistic fashion.

This month the Garden takes a look back at its 10 years to help guests learn more about the Garden, its past and its future. Staff has planned a month-long celebration that includes a new display on the history as well as the master plan and events planned in the months to come.

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