Green Bay Botanical Garden started as a dream to create a community garden for everyone to enjoy and first welcomed visitors into its doors in 1996. Of the Garden’s 47 acres, 23.5 acres are developed with lush gardens, outstanding architecture and peaceful woods which set the stage for a horticultural adventure through plants that thrive in the Upper Midwest. Both children and adults gather here to enjoy a variety of educational programs and year-round special events that feature a wonderful mix of gardening, cultural and family activities, including the Garden’s popular outdoor concerts and WPS Garden of Lights.
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HISTORY TIMELINE: FROM THE GARDEN WITHOUT SOIL TO THE PLACE OF PEOPLE AND PLANTS
“This place isn’t about the plants, it’s about the people.” Jerry Landwehr, GBBG Visionary & First Lead Horticulturist
Ray Pagel, Green Bay Press-Gazette, and Ernie Ehrbar, Brown County Extension, form Gardener’s Club.
City of Green Bay hires Bob Mongin, GBBG Visionary, as Landscape Architect.
Brown County hires Paul Hartman, GBBG Visionary, as Horticultural Agent.
Hartman forms Plants in the Urban Environment (PUE).
PUE group meets with NWTI (currently Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, NWTC). PUE explores three potential sites for the Garden including 90 acres on NWTI land.
NWTI Board approves $3,500 to hire Environmental Planning & Design (EPD) and Dr. DeVos to develop conceptual plan.
GBBG, Inc. incorporates. Glenn Spevacek, GBBG Visionary, heads efforts to develop bylaws.
Board of Directors appointed.
First Annual meeting of GBBG. Tax-exempt status granted.
GBBG reconfirms NWTI site as top choice. First Garden Fair held at Chicago and North Western Depot. Board establishes first office and hires executive secretary.
Board hires EPD. NWTC signs two-year lease.
Gail Fischer, GBBG Visionary, successfully coordinates $25,000 fund drive.
EPD completes Master Plan. Garden Fair moves to site.
NWTC agrees to a 99-year lease for 30 acres contingent on successful campaign of $1.4 million.
Spevacek hired as Executive Director. Capital campaign exceeds goal.
Board hires Buettner & Associates to develop first phase of Master Plan, and Martison Architects to develop Visitor Center.
Patrick Larkin joins staff as Executive Director. NWTC creates Landscape Horticulture Program. NWTC agrees to lease additional 17 acres to the Garden. Summer Concerts begin. Volunteer Center is constructed.
Brenda Hanson is named Interim Executive Director until Don Hendricks is hired. Smith Group/JJR updates Master Plan.
GBBG implements plant identification system.
Bay Area Daylily (BAD) Buds plant a display garden. Children’s Gardening Patch is relocated. Dennis Ledvina, Magnolia Expert and avid volunteer, contributes dozens of trees to establish Magnolia Grove.
NWTC breaks ground for the Landscape Horticulture Learning Center.
GBBG implements interpretive signage program and is named an All-America Selections Display Garden.
Susan Garot becomes Executive Director after Mark Jones serves as Interim Director.
Discovery Dock completes the renovation of the back pond, enhancing school programs.
Arendt Conifer Garden is dedicated. Garden Fair celebrates its 30th year. Smith Group/JJR begins design of the Grand Garden.
Construction on the Schneider Family Grand Garden begins.
Schneider Family Grand Garden opens with summer concert season.
“Like a tree that changes and matures, the character of the Garden is constantly evolving. Once nothing more than the seed of an idea in the minds of a few visionaries, the Garden has spread its roots, grown and branched out. Today it is blossoming and has truly become a magical place that welcomes everyone.” (A Place for Everyone: The History of Green Bay Botanical Garden, Somerville, 2016, p.159)
To learn more about the rich history of Green Bay Botanical Garden, visit the WPS Trellis Gift Shop at the Garden to purchase A Place for Everyone: The History of Green Bay Botanical Garden.