McIntire Botanical Garden

Celebrating Virginia's Flora

McIntire Botanical Garden and the City of Charlottesville Memorandum of Agreement

The Memorandum of Agreement signed in September 2015 assigns and identifies the responsibilities in the relationship governing the design, development and management of the new botanical garden between the City of Charlottesville and McIntire Botanical Garden Inc.

The History of McIntire Botanical Garden from 2008 to 2014

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Botanic Gardens Conservation International defines a botanic garden as an “institution holding documented collections of living plants for the purposes of display, education, conservation and scientific research.”
Read the History
Charlottesville, Virginia, is the best college town in America, is one of the best cities in which to live in the country and is one of the top five places to visit in the U.S. Home of the top-ranked University of Virginia and iconic historic sites like Monticello and Ash Lawn, the city features a stable economy, an important research park, beautiful mountains and country sides, excellent health care systems, and an active and engaged community, but it does not have a botanical garden.
Formation of Nonprofit
In 2008, plans to construct a parkway through the City’s McIntire Park were imminent, and about 25 acres of the park’s land were to be used for the project. Special interest groups in the golfing community were determined that the park should remain as a golf course. Another group emerged as an entity to bring legal action to stop the parkway project and retain the park as it was.
These developments, coupled with the personal vision of McIntire Botanical Garden’s founder and president, Helen Flamini, to create a botanical garden on the eastern side of McIntire Park, became the catalyst to form McIntire Botanical Garden (MBG), a nonprofit 501(c) 3 whose task was to galvanize support for and promote a regional botanical garden to serve tourists, visitors and the residents in Charlottesville and the surrounding counties.    
Botanical Garden Vision
The MBG envisions a vibrant and diverse community space that not only fosters environmental and botanical education but will become a unique garden, adding to and complementing other attractions within the City. The centrally located McIntire Park is only one walking mile from downtown Charlottesville. Residential neighborhoods will easily access the park from trail, sidewalk and parking connections. The garden will also provide invaluable recreational spaces for users of all generations within an ecologically rich and beautiful setting. The botanical garden will serve as an integral patch of biodiversity within Charlottesville’s urban forest, and will influence the overall landscape of Charlottesville by educating individuals about sustainable home garden and lawn care practices.It will add a comprehensive model of sustainable landscape practices to the City’s strong network of park spaces. Use of native plants in the botanical garden will help insure the sustainability of the landscape, and incorporated with display gardens, will enhance the visual experience for all visitors. A proposed children’s garden will be a special place designed for children to explore nature and experience educational opportunities coordinated with their classroom learning.
Initial Efforts to Create Awareness, Support
The early mission of MBG was to create support for the initiative and generate community awareness of the educational and financial benefits of a regional botanical garden. To this end, MBG sponsored Music in the Park, submitted petitions to City Council, published a newsletter, issued press releases to local news outlets and made numerous presentations by notable speakers. MBG also initiated studies of landscape design and site assessment through the University of Virginia’s landscape architecture faculty and students. Expenses for these early initiatives were funded by MBG Board members, colleagues and friends of the garden.
Approved Park Master Plan Includes Botanical Garden
After a year-long public process initiated by the City of Charlottesville’s Parks and Recreation Department, a final Master Plan for McIntire Park was brought before City Council for review. The Master Plan included a botanical garden in the eastern portion of the park. On September 4, 2012, the plan was adopted, and in September 2013, City Council designated MBG as the City’s partner in a public-private affiliation, with the City responsible for design, development, and management of a botanical garden and other uses of the eastern portion of McIntire Park. In 2015, the McIntire Road parkway project was completed, which opened the door for elements of the Master Plan to be implemented, among them, construction of a pedestrian bridge to connect the east and west sides of McIntire Park and establishment of trails. A number of community meetings have already been held, and additional ones will take place as the Master Plan unfolds.
Growth of MBG Board
The MBG Board was expanded in 2013 to eleven members from Charlottesville and Albemarle County. Members represent a variety of disciplines and areas of expertise: gardening, education, community organizations, social organizations, law, local politics, finance, engineering, marketing, architecture and horticulture. The Board members are committed to bringing their extensive experience and expertise to the vision of creating a botanical garden and enhancing the wonderful green space and landmark at McIntire Park.
MBG Board’s Commitment and Efforts Continue
The MBG Board has been working with Mahan Rykiel Associates of Baltimore and the Timmons Group of Charlottesville – the primary team leading the design effort – and with City Parks and Recreation staff and the Skate Park Advisory Board to implement the vision outlined in the approved Master Plan.
Botanical Garden Addresses City’s Vision 2025
The Charlottesville City Council adopted its Vision 2025 statement in 2007, which details nine specific areas of focus. The McIntire Botanical Garden meets seven of the areas and can become a center for lifelong learning, realize Council’s vision of a green city and create a connected community for residents and visitors to enjoy.
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