The Story of Greensboro Beautiful

daylily garden

Greensboro Beautiful was created in 1968 as a partnership between the City of Greensboro, private citizens, community organizations, and businesses to develop and fund beautification projects throughout the city. Early projects included brick welcome signs at major entrances to Greensboro, landscaped medians and triangles, tree giveaways, glass and aluminum recycling, and the creation of a number of small parks. Greensboro Beautiful was also instrumental in the initiation of citywide curbside recycling, as well as stream restoration and protection in the early 1990's - both of which are now established City programs. All projects were made possible with private donations and volunteers from the community, and with staff and equipment provided by the City of Greensboro.

Planting Trees

In 1974, Greensboro Beautiful created its Memorial and Honor Tree Program. This program provided a way for citizens to have trees planted on public property to remember and honor loved ones or special occasions. This program is credited with planting thousands of trees along the streets and medians and in parks throughout Greensboro. The median along West Market Street, Holden Road, and Cone Blvd. are just a few examples of how this program helped create tree-lined medians. The program continues today, and in 1992, the City of Greensboro became certified as a Tree City USA thanks in large part to Greensboro Beautiful's ongoing tree planting programs. The Memorial & Honor Tree program is funded by donations to Greensboro Beautiful.

First Gardens

In honor of our country's Bicentennial Celebration, Greensboro Beautiful developed its first garden on a 7-1/2 acre tract of land off Hobbs Road, and Bicentennial Garden was dedicated to the City of Greensboro in October 1976. Over the years, Greensboro Beautiful has added special garden areas and sculpture, and completed a major renovation of the garden in 1999. The Stanley & Doris Tanger Family donated $2 million to Greensboro Beautiful in 2006 for ongoing support of Greensboro's public gardens, and to rename the garden the Tanger Family Bicentennial Garden. These funds have enabled Greensboro Beautiful to continue enhancements of the garden and portions of the adjacent David Caldwell Historic Park. In 2017, Greensboro Beautiful constructed and Old Mill which is reminiscent of a mill that David Caldwell operated on this site in the 1780's. It has a free-standing water wheel that works in conjunction with a re-circulating stream. The mill was developed through private donations to Greensboro Beautiful.

In the mid 1980's, Greensboro Beautiful broke ground on its second garden - a 17-acre tract of land in Lindley Park formerly known as the Anniversary Garden. The Greensboro Arboretum was completed and dedicated to the City in 1991. Over the years, Greensboro Beautiful has added many features, collections, and special garden areas including a butterfly garden and fountain, a perennial border around the landmark arbor, wedding gazebo, oversized wind chimes, and so much more.  Interpretive signage has been added to educate the community about horticulture, wildlife protection, and the environment.

Meanwhile, Dr. Joe Christian was working to develop an area of land donated to the City by the Benjamin Family across the street from the Bicentennial Garden. An elevated wooden walkway was constructed to provide access into the area, and the Bog Garden at Benjamin Park was completed in 1991.  In 2005, Greensboro Beautiful constructed a recirculating waterfall in the garden; and a life-size bronze statue of Dr. Christian was commissioned and installed. In recent years, volunteers began to remove invasive plants and replacing them with native plants that are appropriate for the site.  It is the perfect place to ensure that native plants exist to support local wildlife and to further the mission of Greensboro Beautiful to conserve and enhance the beauty and ecology of our community.

Keep America Beautiful Affiliation

In the early 1990's, Greensboro Beautiful conducted its first community litter cleanups – The Glad Bag-A-Thon (now the Great American Cleanup) in the spring, and Big Sweep in the fall. Greensboro Beautiful became certified as an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful in 1992, joining grassroots systems across the country which are working to prevent litter, improve waste handling practices, and enhance their communities through a variety of beautification efforts. A third litter cleanup, Winter Wipeout, was added in 2016 in order to engage volunteers in cleaning up litter when it is more visible and more accessible. The litter cleanups are funded by private donations to Greensboro Beautiful.

Urban Forestry

In the late 1990's, Greensboro Beautiful created an Urban Forestry Committee to work with the City's Arborist to develop reforestation efforts throughout the City. In 1999, Greensboro Beautiful created “Plant 2000” with a goal of planting 10,000 trees throughout Greensboro to usher in the turn of the century. This goal was surpassed and 20,500 trees were planted throughout Guilford County. In 2001, Greensboro Beautiful conducted a reforestation project in Caldwell Park to replace dozens of trees which had been lost to a storm the previous year. This was followed by a tree planting in Price Park along New Garden Road. In 2004, the NeighborWoods Community Tree Planting Program was created, and since then, Greensboro Beautiful has planted more than 3,000 trees in neighborhoods where needed. This program is funded by private donations and grants to Greensboro Beautiful.

Events in the Gardens

In the early 2000's, Greensboro Beautiful developed special events to be held in the gardens. The first was “Bayou Bash in the Bog”, an evening event in the Bog Garden, a Cajun-themed event featuring Tiki-torches and music. “Parisian Promenade” followed in 2001. This French-themed event features sidewalk artists and cafés, music, a poodle parade, family games, and more. “Art in the Arboretum” began in 2002 and features juried artists, music, food, and children's activities. While Bayou Bash is no longer held, both Parisian Promenade and Art in the Arboretum have grown to a public attendance of more than 5,000 every year. These programs are funded by private donations to Greensboro Beautiful.

A Fourth Garden

The planning for Greensboro’s newest garden began in 1999. The City approached Greensboro Beautiful about developing a new garden in Southeast Greensboro. Greensboro Beautiful worked to involve the community and its residents in the planning of this garden and held design planning meetings with the neighborhood and citizens of Southeast Greensboro to gather input. The Master Plan was completed in 2003. In 2006, Greensboro Beautiful kicked off a capital campaign to raise $5 million, and broke ground for the 11-acre site now known as Gateway Gardens. Phase I of the garden was opened to the public in 2011, with $5.6 million raised to-date in private gifts and grants.  In 2014, Greensboro Beautiful developed a music event to be held each year. “Groovin' in the Garden” features professional and student performance groups, food, and a number of activities for children and families throughout the afternoon.

Future phases of the garden include a Wedding & Special Events Garden, White Oak Forest, and Japanese Garden. Gateway Gardens was certified in 2014 as a LEED Silver project by the U.S. Green Building Council. In 2020, construction of the interior of the Event Center was completed.

Completion of the garden can only happen with the financial support of the entire community. A number of naming opportunities are available including benches, artwork, pavers, garden areas, and more. Help us grow Gateway Gardens for future generations!


Greensboro Beautiful’s mission is to conserve and enhance the beauty and ecology of our community through public and private cooperation. As a non-profit volunteer organization, we rely on the private funding and volunteer support of individuals and corporations, civic and youth groups, foundations, faith communities and families to initiate the organization’s community enhancement projects and programs.

Greensboro Beautiful is grateful to the thousands of volunteers who have given, and continue to give of their time to help achieve these accomplishments over the last 50+ years. Volunteers who serve on the organization’s Board of Directors and Advisory Board. Volunteers who serve on planning committees. Volunteers who work in each of the gardens. Volunteers who pick up litter. Volunteers who help at our garden events. Volunteers who help stuff envelopes and label newsletters. None of Greensboro Beautiful’s projects or programs would be possible without volunteers.

All this and more in our 50+ year history! With your help, just think what we’ll accomplish in our next 50 years! Volunteer. Donate. Join us.

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