Eileen C. Hart was a cherished wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, grandmother and an accomplished master-gardener in Hillsborough County, Florida for over 40 years. Her unexpected passing in June of 2021, left her life's work , (her 2-acre tropical garden), without its loving caretaker. Eileen began developing her landscape in 1975 from a bare, sandy, lake-front plot to a rich, layered, jungle garden with thousands of tropical plants. There are now more than 1000 particular species, varieties and cultivars to enjoy.
We are reaching out to all those who knew her and who benefitted from her incredible botanical knowledge, wisdom and friendship. We're asking for contributions of financial support until we can transition her life's work into a dedicated botanical garden with a self-supporting system and a mission of educating the public. With your help, we can keep providing the educational, fun, wildlife-filled, florally-rich, magical experiences Eileen sought to share with everyone she knew!
Eileen logged thousands of hours as a master-gardener volunteer, traveling all over Florida (AND the southeastern US!) teaching classes on plant identification, propagation, and pathology. As a graduate of the first class of Hillsborough County Master Gardeners in 1981, Eileen freely gave thousands of plants, cuttings, grafts and air-layers from her own garden, and delighted in her students' new found joy for plants! She contributed to and was highly active in multiple plant societies and organizations for decades because she had a passion for learning and teaching others. Help us keep the passion going!
If you or your organization has benefitted from her active philosophy of sharing plants and botanical knowledge, please consider giving back to save her gardens!
- Explore Eileen's Gardens: Eileen C Hart Botanical Garden Facebook Page
- Read more about Eileen's life: Eileen's Life and Legacy
- View the video below to get a small glimpse of the astonishing diversity and density of her gardens:
WHO WILL BENEFIT
This fund will benefit the maintenance and care of Eileen's C. Hart's private, two-acre garden during the transition and exploration of plans to elevate her creation into a dedicated botanical organization and research station to serve the public, universities, gardeners, horticulturalists, botanists and plant enthusiasts as well as the natural ecosystems of central Florida.
Future beneficiaries of her gardens will also include:
- plant societies
- garden clubs
The preservation of her gardens will mean that thousands of native birds, butterflies, bees, invertebrates, and aquatic animals that currently reside there, will continue to have a home. This diversity is key to the health of central Florida's ecosystems!
WHAT THE FUNDS WILL BE USED FOR
Specifically, funds will be used to maintain, preserve and manage the existing gardens through the transition to a dedicated botanical garden, be it public or private. Continued donations to this fund will eventually be applied directly to the Eileen C. Hart Botanical Garden organization that will continue Eileen's work.
The mission of this fund-raiser is to generate resources that will cover the cost of maintaining the gardens, including hiring specialists for maintenance and plant surveys, along with planning governance, business and management options as we transition her property into a research, education and public access garden. Funds will be used to explore options for the best management system, whether that be private, semi-private, institution-supported or non-profit.
Other options for organization also include educational opportunities such as a training center for master gardeners, an educational center for school groups, plant clubs and hobbyists of all ages. The gardens can provide a center for studying specific sub-tropical plant families for the landscape and horticulture industries. The gardens can also benefit experts, specialists and students studying in the fields of palms, bromeliads, camellias, ferns, native plants, orchids, lilies, tropical horticulture and botany, wetlands, as well as entomology, zoology and so much more!
HOW SOON WE NEED THE FUNDS
Funds are needed as soon as possible to care for and safe-guard Eileen's gardens, especially during the hot summer months, and as we approach the fall and winter seasons, when certain species will need special care and protection. Funds will also be needed within the next 12 months to support the formation of a larger plan for the preservation of the gardens.
WHAT YOUR SUPPORT WILL MEAN TO US
Eileen's gardens need continued maintenance to thrive and your financial support will mean the difference between saving thousands of plants or losing them to circumstance. Eileen's life-work is worthy of saving and your support will make this possible!
Her gardens currently include hundreds of camellias, thousands of bromeliads, dozens of palms, and countless other plant genera including ferns, cycads, gingers, heliconias, tillandsias, bananas, begonias, tropical fruits and succulents... to name a few! Your support will provide the continuous care needed as we transition Eileen's garden into its next phase.
WE ARE SO GRATEFUL!
Eileen Hart's gardens have already had an incredible, 46-year impact on the state, county, and local community, as well as friends, family and neighbors. Supporting this fund will mean the difference between hundreds of species living and being harnessed for public education or falling into disrepair and fading away. Preserving Eileen's gardens will not only preserve her life's legacy, but will also provide a physical location for people of all ages to visit, learn and experience the joys of nature for generations. We are forever grateful for your help and support as this means that everyone, including you, can share in this amazing experience for many years to come! We can't express enough heartfelt gratitude for your generous donation. Thank you!!!