Creating the Botanical Garden of the Piedmont

2008 – Albemarle County resident Helen Flamini was one of those early advocates for a botanical Garden in Charlottesville. She began to explore possibilities to create a botanical garden in the City of Charlottesville. Realizing the importance of preserving McIntire Park and knowing the public planning process would determine its future, it became her vision and her mission to engage others. Thus, an all-volunteer founded board, forming the Botanical Garden of the Piedmont was born as McIntire Botanical Garden, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation.

2008-2012 – The Board’s early mission was to create community awareness of the benefits that a public garden would offer.

Founding Board

    • Music in the Park was presented.
    • 1,600 petitions were presented to City Council in support of the garden.
    • Newsletter were published.
    • Press releases to local news outlets were issued.
    • Notable speakers were engaged, and in collaboration with UVA’s Landscape Architecture Department faculty and students, conducted studies of landscape design and site assessment of McIntire Park East.

September 4, 2012 – A final Master Plan was brought before City Council for review, after a year-long public process initiated by the City’s Parks and Recreation Department, and on September 4, 2012 was adopted.

The plan highlighted the changes that would occur at McIntire Park East to include a botanical garden on 8.5 acres, closing the golf course by 2016, and creating a passive-use park.

September 2013 – City Council designated the Garden, Inc., as the City’s partner in a public-private collaboration to design, develop, and manage the botanical garden in McIntire Park.

September 2015 – MOA Signed.  The Garden Board of Directors and the City of Charlottesville signed a Memorandum of Agreement to develop, operate, and manage the botanical garden in accordance with responsibilities of each party as stipulated in the MOA.

March 16, 2016 – City Council adopted the schematic plan for McIntire Park East, designed by landscape architectural firm Mahan Rykiel.  The plan included a botanical garden.

2016- 2017 The Garden Board moves forward with the infrastructure that will be required to design and build the Garden.   This included expanding Board membership to include members from Charlottesville and Albemarle County to represent a variety of fields: local politics, education, health and medicine, landscape architecture, horticulture, business and technology.

During this period, the Board has also created and updated its strategic plan, developed governance, and accelerated fundraising efforts.

Spring 2016 – Completed a benchmark BioBlitz coordinated by Master Naturalists and other volunteers to identify the flora on the garden site.

January 2017 -The Garden Board embarked on an RFP process to hire a qualified landscape architecture firm to design the garden’s 8.5 acres. The RFP was announced in October to landscape architecture firms.

February 2017- The Board enters a partnership with the Friends of Ian Robertson.  The group is comprised of friends and family of Ian Robertson interested in helping the Garden by promoting the legacy of Ian Robertson –horticulture, design, and education – through the creation of an endowed Ian Robertson Legacy: Lecture Series and a built structure or horticultural element in The Garden.  A donation for this purpose is made to the Garden.  The Lectureship is now in its fifth year.

June 2017 – The Garden logo is design through three gifts from generous donors.  The logo features the abstracted blossom of the Turtlehead, a native Virginia flower. The Turtlehead was chosen because of its direct connection to our mission – to cultivate a public garden that reflects the unique character of the Piedmont region.

May 2018– The Board of Directors announced its selection of Mikyoung Kim Design and Waterstreet Studios as the landscape architecture team to design the Garden. Their work began immediately with public input opportunities in June to elicit the community’s desires for the space. The public event was held at the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center auditorium.

Fall of 2018 – A schematic design is to be delivered to the Board.

Fall 2020 – The Board of Directors of McIntire Botanical Garden announced the approval of a new name for the Garden. While the complete transition will take some time, going forward, the Garden will be known as the Botanical Garden of the Piedmont.


Fall 2021 – Charlottesville City Council unanimously approved a land lease agreement for Botanical Garden of the Piedmont. With the new land lease agreement, the Garden retains ownership of the infrastructure  designed and constructed.