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PEACE RIVER BOTANICAL & SCULPTURE GARDENS MAGAZINE H ARBOR STYLE | 1
Come for the Plants. Stay for the Sculpture.”<br /> <br /> Not five minutes off I-75’s Exit 164, you’ll find an oasis. In a region known for its shell-strewn beaches, magical wildlife and lush vegetation — paradise itself — the Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens stands out as a mecca for plant and art lovers alike. The drama and sophistication of many of the installations would draw throngs to urban museums, so it’s all the more stunning to view these structures, massive in some cases, demure in others, in an environment designed for open-air experiences.<br /> <br /> The vision of Roger Tetrault, retired CEO and Chairman of the Board of McDermott International and previously Senior Vice President of General Dynamics and the President of Electric Boat Shipyard, and his wife, Linda Tetrault, PhD, has finally become a reality. The 12- year project, which finally broke ground in 2012, had its public opening on October 20. A few weeks earlier, on September 30, the Tetraults invited their family and friends for a soft opening.<br /> <br /> “I came for the plants,” said horticulturist Cynthia Camilleri, “but I stay for the sculpture.” The Asheville, N.C., guest at the Gardens’ Family and Friends soft opening was particularly impressed by the ponytail palm. “The Tetraults and I are neighbors in North Carolina and I just couldn’t miss this. It’s just so important.”<br /> <br /> Rev. Bill Klossner, president of Peace River Botanical and Sculpture Gardens, Inc., and past president of the Arts & Humanities Council of Charlotte County, Inc., was on the move throughout the day, ensuring that guests were comfortable despite the late September heat. Guests entered the driveway to the Gardens and were immediately entranced by the stainless steel “Fleur” sculpture, a nine-foot tall water feature reminiscent of a pedestal vase, by Archie Held of Richmond, Calif. Photographic images of plant life and flowers line the driveway to the parking area as well. The 60-by-40-inch permanent exhibits, funded through the Charlotte Community Foundation, add another dimension of vibrancy to the beauty of the landscape.<br /> <br /> “The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Marilyn Smith- Mooney [the Gardens’ Executive Administrator, who has been with the Gardens since 2008] called us and said she needed funding in two weeks. When crafting the Marion and Leroy Pope Estate Fund, one of the things the couple wanted to contribute to were gardens. Marion loved relaxing in gardens,” shared Tami Sender, CEO of the Charlotte Community Foundation. “We were originally thinking of two different projects, but then something as significant as the Peace River Gardens just made sense. Marion would have appreciated the [botanical portrait] photos and the entire project. There is just no better way to honor their legacy.” The $20,000 grant from the Charlotte Community Foundation, through the Marion and Leroy Pope, Jr. Legacy Fund, is the Foundation’s largest single award to date.<br /> <br /> Beginning at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, September 30, VIPs were greeted by board member Marlene Hofer in the ticket booth and shuttled by golf cart from the south area parking facility to self-guided walking tours starting at the soaring Gardens Community Center, the architectural centerpiece of the Gardens, which was designed by Dan F. Sater II, a Fellow of the American Institute of Building Design and internationally renowned Certified Professional Building Designer and Certified Green Professional.<br /> <br /> The approach to the center and the gardens themselves is perhaps the most dramatic entrance found in Southwest Florida. Larger-than-life figures of a man and woman bending toward one another — the man in a gentlemanly bow and the woman making a coquettish kiss — create an arch under which pedestrians can travel, or stop in jaw-dropping wonder. Named “Ostriches” by Beijing’s Yu Zhaoyang, they embody the whimsical vision of the Sculpture Committee, chaired by Kirk Stirton, CPA, and former president of the Arts Council of New Orleans. “After a $650 taxi ride from Livorno, I found this sculpture garden among cypress trees in Tuscany, the Chianti Sculpture Park, and met Piero Giadrossi, its founder,” Stirton shared. “His vision inspired ours for the Gardens.” The 20- foot suited man and short-skirted woman pose in red, a vivid contrast to their green surroundings and blue sky.<br /> <br /> Along with “Thinker,” by Ichwan Noor of Yogyakarta, Indonesia, “Ostriches” were also acquired from the Chianti Park for installation in the Gardens. Cast in bronze, “Thinker,” a spoof on the Rodin original “The Thinker,” sits in ball cap and sneakers upon rough-cut Carrara marble, contemplating great unknowns. The accompanying table and seating offer visitors to the Gardens Community Center a respite to view the surrounding water-lily pond to the right, the cascading infinity pools with “City Slicker” on loan from artist Carole Feuerman to the left, and the 20-year-old staghorn fern, weighing roughly 200 pounds, suspended from a solid branch of a Live Oak front and center.<br /> <br /> “It’s amazing to see Roger’s vision,” shared nephew Greg Tetrault, who came in from Long Island with wife, Laurie Conlon. “From scrawlings on a pad, to plans, to permits, to this. It’s a testament to him, the way he sees things through.” The couple had recently visited the Rodin Museum in France to see “The Thinker” and enjoyed the similarities to the Gardens’ installation.<br /> <br /> Volunteer Sheila Miller stood just outside the front doors of the center gazing at the glittering “Rondelet,” a highly polished aluminum kinetic sculpture with circular forms that shine, spin and oscillate in the breeze. Another Stirton find, the sculpture was commissioned from Lin Emery, a sculptor of kinetic art in New Orleans. “You have to admire such commitment, given setbacks, both natural and otherwise, that the project has encountered,” Miller said, referring in part to Hurricane Irma, which threatened to delay the opening. Although she couldn’t name a favorite yet, she said, “I like how the sculptures go between the rooms of plantings. It’s magnificent.”<br /> <br /> Beyond “Rondelet” and across the lily pond, “Monumental Fire & Harmony,” also by Carole Feuerman of Hartford, Conn., arches dramatically into a grand battement en rond that fits with the elegance of the setting. From this vantage point, guests had a fantastic view of the Gardens’ signature sculpture, “Steel Palm.” Boston artist Jacob Kulin expressed his delight and gratitude at working on “Steel Palm” for the Tetraults.<br /> <br /> The Cranbrook Academy of Art graduate had the inspiration of a 50-million-year-old stone palm frond fossil the Tetraults purchased from a Wyoming quarry. “How appropriate that a palm frond from the bottom of a lake bed and found at the top of a mountain should serve as the inspiration” of his 20,000-pound, 22-foot-tall installation, created from 14 individual steel plates ranging from 1,200 to 2,200 pounds each. He added, “Every project has a heartbeat and the fossil started this one,” gesturing to the oneinch Core-Ten steel plate material. Once assembled to withstand 140 mph winds and christened with champagne, the structure was given its first rinse, which brought out the rich burnt umber patina that actually makes each blade stronger through seasons of salty air.<br /> <br /> “In my 20-year career, this piece is my most massive. It took a year and a half from concept to completion,” Kulin shared. “The pieces were cut and formed in Cincinnati, and it has a huge subfooting below a concrete pad with two outriggers that extend well below the tiles here. It’s grounded for lightning as well.”<br /> <br /> Standing nearby, Michael Smith and Ivette Fernandez admired Kulin’s masterpiece. Smith, an artist himself, was impressed with the high quality of the art. “You’re not going to find this level of art in a setting quite like this,” he shared. “It’s really sophisticated.”<br /> <br /> Strolling past the work to the boardwalk pier leading out into the Peace River and an end-of-pier gazebo, the full magnitude of Kulin’s vision clicks into place as the blades align and appear as a single, very large palm frond, catching the now mid-day sun. “I remember Roger taking me out on the bridge from his house (visible from the pier and gazebo),” Lloyd Tetrault, Linda’s brother, shared. “He would stand on the bridge and lay it all out for me.” Traveling from northern Alabama, Lloyd and wife, Carolyn, viewed “Steel Palm” from the walkway. “Our family is extremely excited and happy to see Roger and Linda’s vision come to fruition.”<br /> <br /> A Visionary Welcome<br /> <br /> At noon, family and friends met under a yellow-andwhite striped tent between “Steel Palm” and the Gardens Community Center to enjoy a luncheon by River City Grill and welcome by the visionary himself, Roger Tetrault. After thanking sculptors Cary and Jesse Stefani and Jacob (pronounced YA-kob) Kulin for their hard work and presence, he began his speech.<br /> <br /> “For the past 12 years, we have had a dream of building a Sculpture Garden in Punta Gorda. To do that, you really must believe that if you build it, people will come. And you have! Thank you!” Tetrault began. “Linda and I are overwhelmed by your response. You have come from 13 different states to be here today. Those states include California, Texas, Louisiana, Michigan, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Georgia and Alabama. We also have many who have traveled long distances within our own sunshine state.”<br /> <br /> “Building the Gardens has been hard. Our current estimate is that it will take at least another decade to complete the entire plan for this Garden. We’re regulated by six different agencies, the Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection, the Southwest Florida Water Management District, FEMA, the US Army Corps of Engineers, Fish and Wildlife and Charlotte County.” Tetrault added that the 620-foot boardwalk alone took five years. “To meet the water management requirements for collecting rainwater, we had to start by cutting down 300 oaks and 50 pines.<br /> <br /> “We were required to raise 11 acres by an average of five feet. Think about how many truckloads of dirt that were required to raise 11 acres, on average, five feet. In the last three years, we’ve planted roughly 3,500 trees and plants. Over the next few years, we will continue to add about 750 trees and plants every year.<br /> <br /> “In the future, our home and its contents, including about 225 pieces of art, glass, fossils and antiquities will be gifted to the Gardens and will be open to the public,” Tetrault added, sharing details of the development of Phase III. “We have already had our first small wedding within the Garden. By next year, we expect to be a preferred host for weddings in this area. This Garden is a joint effort between the Tetrault Family Foundation and the Peace River Botanical and Sculpture Gardens, Inc. The job of the Tetrault Foundation has been to build the Gardens and the Foundation will continue to be responsible for the continued construction and improvement of the Gardens.”<br /> <br /> Tetrault concluded his remarks by thanking former Punta Gorda Mayor Marilyn Smith-Mooney for her contribution to making the Gardens a reality.<br /> <br /> Sculptors Stefani and Kulin Share their Inspirations and Process<br /> <br /> After the luncheon, the father-and-son team of Cary and Jesse Stefani (stefaniandco.com) presented a slideshow in the center’s ground-floor gathering space, taking guests through every step of the conception, construction and installation of “Tree Trellises” and the Tetrault Wall Garden affixed to either side of the fireplace in the Tetrault family home. Michigan native Cary had been introduced to the visionary after his wife, Chris, a designer, had become friends with Linda Tetrault. The couples’ 20-year friendship has spanned the entire duration of the Gardens’ project. Now, three “Tree Trellises” stand near the end of the main south entrance to the Gardens. Constructed of rebar that had to be propped up during assembly in March, the naked trellises resemble trees with 22- foot diameter canopies arching in every direction. Volunteers planted bougainvillea in three different colors at the base of the frameworks that rise to 20 feet high. The flowering plants are beginning to rise on each structure and present brilliant splashes of color for visitors as they wind their way from the parking lot.<br /> <br /> The Stefanis treated guests to a detailed presentation on the Wall Garden they crafted for the Tetrault living room, which will be a featured piece when the home is turned into a fine arts museum. The Tetraults and Stefanis chose their favorite Florida flora to grace the fireplace. Kumquat, sea grape, Bird of Paradise, Bismarck, Cuban Royal and Cardboard palm, bamboo, mangrove, crown of thorns, live oak, Hong Kong orchid, magnolia and other plants cast in bronze wind through six concave “frames,” bringing the beauty of the Florida landscape indoors.<br /> <br /> Following the Stefanis’ presentation, Jacob Kulin (kulinmodern.com) shared his vision for “Steel Palm.” The project took two years to complete, beginning with the palm fossil and ending with the massive installation just a few yards away. Kulin explained the asymmetry he saw in the “flair and heel at the base of the frond,” which led him to the idea of one vantage point that could be different from another. The plasma- cut, one-inch-thick blades of the “Steel Palm” fronds are 10 tons in total weight. At installation, tack welding was used to ensure the proper placement and security of each blade, ultimately using three-quarters of a mile of welding material.<br /> <br /> “The character of the piece will increase as it weathers,” Kulin explained, “it becomes stronger over time.” With one coating of water, the steel started turning color. Kulin emphasized that the drip lines added even more character to the piece.<br /> <br /> Kulin also described his process for two pieces in the future museum. “Golden Ripple” extends above the staircase in the Tetrault home. “It was inspired by the slats at the gazebo and the ripples on the bay as the sun lowers in the sky,” he said.<br /> <br /> “Glass Fronds,” which is visible on the Tetrault’s residence at the end of the “mangrove boardwalk,” is 13 feet high by 6 feet wide and is comprised of plate glass, anodized aluminum and stainless steel. The installation’s glass-like plumes were drawn from Cuban Royal Palms in front of the house along the bay. Kulin tested the load using computer-aided design programs and found the structure could withstand 140 mph winds. The sculpture is located along the west side of the Tetraults’ private residence, perfectly suited as a transition between the Gardens and what will one day become the Garden’s fine art museum.<br /> <br /> Behind the Scenes<br /> <br /> Rev. Bill Klossner was approached to serve the Peace River Botanical and Sculpture Gardens as President within two weeks after a term as President of the Board of the Arts & Humanities Council in October 2016.<br /> <br /> “He’s always been very interested in the arts,” shared his wife, Hazel Klossner, who runs A Place in the Sun Vacation Rentals and shares her husband’s passion for the Gardens. “We are heavily invested in the community, he since the late ‘80s when he came here and me for the past 16 years.” Hazel recalls accompanying Klossner on afternoon presentations of the Gardens. “I support him on whatever he needs and have given a few pointers on marketing. I make sure he brings the right things to his meetings.”<br /> <br /> For his part, Klossner has been gearing up for the openings for months. “I am very excited to be a part of this project. Never in my life had I ever thought that I’d have the opportunity to see something develop into such a great resource for and gift to the community and the region. It’s mind-boggling to imagine the vision that Roger envisioned in his mind’s eye.” Klossner served as Senior Chaplain for the Punta Gorda Police Department for 19 years, coached baseball, served on the Kiwanis Foundation board and has been active in the Punta Gorda club. He has also served on the Advisory Board for the Charlotte Technical College.<br /> <br /> Drawing from Michelangelo’s famous quotation that every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it, Klossner went on to add that “like Michelangelo, the statue was always there, we just had to chip away at the marble. Something has been waiting to be done and created here. With hard work, perseverance and tenacity, that’s exactly what we’ve done.”<br /> <br /> Retired builder Mike Petkus echoed Klossner’s sentiments. “This really has started blooming,” he said. “I have seen a lot of changes,” since Petkus was hired to work at the Tetraults’ home and then moved over to pitch in at the gardens. “But with the hurricane, we weren’t sure if we were going to finally open.” He shared that Gardens Construction Manager Jack Nearhoof and he have been preparing the infinity pools and lily pond for months. “We built the pedestal for ‘City Slicker’ [which emerges from one of the pools] and one day we found a baby alligator in there.”<br /> <br /> Kirk Stirton, former president of the Arts Council of New Orleans and current director of sculptures on the board of directors for the Gardens, recalls traveling to St. Petersburg, Russia, with the Tetraults years ago and discussing the concept. “It’s been a long journey, and I’m proud of Roger and Linda for sticking with it. I’ve talked with them weekly about it and watched the progress.” Stirton is responsible for bringing Feuerman to the project, as well as the pieces from Tuscany’s Chianti Park. In January, four more sculptures will be installed.<br /> <br /> “You have to ask yourself, ‘How did they do this?’” shared friend and photographer Gary Brownell, a former builder and charter member of the North American Nature Photographers, who has provided many of the images sold in the Gardens Gift Shop and continues to be amazed. “It’s tough to grasp how they did this in such a small community. It’s exciting also because many people have never heard of anything like this before.”<br /> <br /> Board Treasurer Rick McElhenie, who moved to the area 20 years ago from the D.C. area, was connected with the Gardens’ through former Board President Rob Dwyer. “We used to work together at St. Andrews Golf Course and he asked me to be treasurer.” McElhenie has enjoyed working with the team and calls Klossner, who is in charge of fundraising, “Mr. Momentum.” He highlighted the need for an Executive Director and mentioned the paid positions, including part-time gardening professionals. He is very grateful for the volunteers, particularly the 10 garden docents.<br /> <br /> The Gardens’ only full-time paid employee is long-time supporter Marilyn Smith-Mooney, who serves as the Executive Administrator. She recalls meeting Tetrault when she was president of the Military Heritage Museum. “It was 2007 and he came to a museum event. He shared with me the story of how he managed to get appointed to attend the Naval Academy in Annapolis, which, at the time, was looking for some good wrestlers for the team. Roger explained that he had beaten the high school wrestling champ in his last year, at which point I realized and told him I had been dating that wrestler at the time.” After that, Smith-Mooney and the Tetraults were fast friends. “I got involved with the Gardens in 2008 and I saw and see the Gardens as one of the best cultural amenities in the area. I initially helped with listening sessions with neighbors.” She became instrumental in ensuring that the community’s needs were met as the Gardens grew.<br /> <br /> “It was like a pregnancy that started in 2008, but it’s been a great delivery,” Smith-Mooney shared. “I so admire Roger for persevering. We’re still discovering what it takes to make it happen.” Smith-Mooney served as the Executive Director and Vice Chair of the Tetrault Foundation until 2016, when Tetrault asked her to go to work for the Gardens, Inc., and brought Foundation board members to that nonprofit organization’s board.<br /> <br /> Another early fan of the project was Rob Dwyer, president of Gardens, Inc. from 2011 to 2016, who said he wanted to get involved because the Gardens are in his neighborhood; a client had invited him to one of the original meetings at former Punta Gorda Councilwoman Jane Brenner’s house, where Tetrault decided to move forward. “I thought this new project would be a huge gift to the community, and I was excited to see it grow from ground up.” Dwyer introduced investors to the Tetraults and brought the Gulf Coast Community Foundation to the project, which has been a significant supporter, thanks to the efforts of former GCCF philanthropic adviser Scott Anderson, current Chief of Staff Wendy Deming and adviser Kirstin Fulkerson. “It will be a centerpiece east of town that brings a whole new tourism opportunity to Punta Gorda to inspire future generations,” Dwyer said.<br /> <br /> Offered Deming, “You can’t help but be excited when someone like Roger is leading this project. When so many areas are shut off from the public and waterways are closed, the Tetraults have opened their private home and grounds to all of us and for generations [to come]. This opportunity ties into Gulf Coast Community Foundation’s other initiatives and is a beautiful complement of sculpture and nature. We appreciate the thoughtfulness that Roger has taken, not only in sharing his passion for art, but ensuring that future generations are able to access the very places that make this coast of Florida so special.”<br /> <br /> Charlotte Harbor Visitor & Convention Bureau Director of Marketing Chip Futch, who supports IT for the Gardens, agreed. “This is huge for our area and unique within the county.” Futch served on Visit Florida’s Advertising and Internet Committee until 2016. “There’s Selby Gardens to the north [in Sarasota] and other gardens south of us, but nothing like the sculptures here exist anywhere in the region. It adds another thing that people can do when they visit.”<br /> <br /> Board member and Garden Committee Chair Cate Peterson is a Master Gardener and was encouraged to join the board two years ago by Jane Brenner. She began recruiting people to help with planting, weeding and watering. Until two months ago, Peterson and her group of gardeners worked about three days a week, but they’ve worked every day since, leading up to the opening. Volunteer Coordinator and board member Shelli Green said, “We are starting a program now where everyone has their own section of the garden to maintain. Team leads will be in charge and we’ll work Mondays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. through season, because the Gardens are closed on that day.” Members who volunteer for 50 hours will receive a T-shirt and $10 off their next annual membership.<br /> <br /> “Anyone can stand here with a hose. You don’t need to know anything about planting or plants,” Peterson said. Volunteer forms are available on the Peace River Gardens’ website, www.peacerivergardens.org.<br /> <br /> What’s Next? Phase III<br /> <br /> “Right now, we are developing the third phase of our building program,” Tetrault shared with guests at the family and friends opening. “We will add more than 25,000 square feet of buildings, including a Welcome Center, a Plant Store, a Conservatory and a Restaurant. We will also triple our parking capacity. And we will construct a light-duty bridge from our southwest corner to the two-acre island within our south marsh.”<br /> <br /> Inside the Gardens Community Center, a café has already taken shape. Plans are also underway for a fine arts museum/ library and museum courtyards for when the Tetrault home eventually becomes part of the Gardens. The remaining boardwalks still to be constructed will lead to an island featuring a Children’s Garden and interactive fountain. In a later phase, a multi-use pavilion with a stage and event lawn is being planned. Flowering trees and plants will bloom throughout the year and more than 1,500 linear feet of boardwalks will provide optimum viewing of the river and the marsh.<br /> <br /> Tetrault conveyed that Lorah Steiner, Director of Tourism Development for Charlotte County, has been instrumental in promoting the Gardens. She provided her perspective on her growing understanding of the importance of art in the region and the Gardens toward its future growth and enrichment. “Years ago, in preparation for the development of a long-range plan for tourism, I began researching the arts as a possible contributor to tourism growth. At the time, I thought the arts were for ‘other people,’ those who had more money and more time than I. The possibility that art could be more than a footnote in a tourism program never occurred to me. As I researched the role the arts played in the development of a destination, I began to see the arts as transformative rather than simply contributory. I also began to understand that supporting the arts really means supporting the creative process in your community. Art is not about a painting, a sculpture or a piece of pottery. Art is about the act of creating, whether that manifests as a perfectly seasoned dish on a menu, a brilliant idea for a new product, a clothing design or a mesmerizing watercolor painting.<br /> <br /> “The Peace River Botanical and Sculpture Gardens is a study in creativity — both natural and man-made. It brings world-class sculptures and art work to Charlotte County in a setting that welcomes and encourages contemplation. This beautifully designed and executed attraction will bring national and international attention to our destination. It is also important if we are seeking economic development that is low impact and high return. White-collar, high-tech workers can choose where they want to live. A creative community draws creative people.”<br /> <br /> The Tetrault Family Foundation, which has funded and developed this more than $30 million Gardens project, has provided the people of Charlotte County and beyond with the start of a magnificent destination. Mother Nature, featured botanical collections, architectural ingenuity and contemporary interpretive art combine to offer one of the largest botanical and sculpture gardens in the State of Florida. Within the Peace River’s watershed, which ultimately drains into Charlotte Harbor’s national estuary, this waterfront oasis boasts both wetland and upland native habitats and an island amphitheater. All three of Florida’s mangrove tree species are found within these tidal wetland communities, providing shelter and sustenance to many water and land species. With an initial 840 linear feet of boardwalk winding through the gardens, an observation deck, the Gardens Community Center, a water garden and terraces and lawn, the first phase of the Gardens is spectacular. But the Gardens will grow and grow over the next 10 years.<br /> <br /> “I want people to come here and have at least five ‘WOW’ moments,” Tetrault said. With such an oasis on the horizon, there will be many more “wows” to come.<br /> <br /> Will You Join Us?<br /> <br /> As Tetrault concluded his remarks to his family and friends during the soft opening on September 30, he explained the relationship between the Tetrault Family Foundation, which built the Gardens, and The Peace River Botanical and Sculpture Gardens, Inc., which operates it. “[It] was originally started by a group of local leaders and their function is to operate the Gardens. Basically, they are starting a new business and they will require the support of the community to be successful. The Rev. Bill Klossner is the president, and our former Mayor, Marilyn Smith-Mooney is the Executive Administrator. They are here today representing that organization and looking for ways to improve our operations.”<br /> <br /> Klossner, who has worked with his board and the community on fundraising for the operations side since he started with the Gardens nearly a year ago, noted they have secured many donations, including support from the Charlotte Community Foundation and the Gulf Coast Community Foundation. These donations allow the Gardens to operate for approximately six- to nine months until additional revenue streams begin to turn a profit.<br /> <br /> “Roger could have created private family gardens, but that’s not who Roger is, based on his background,” Klossner said. Anticipating 20,000 visitors in the first year or so, ticket sales will become a significant part of the financial picture for the Gardens. The café, gift shop, events, weddings and grant funding will also help to support the Gardens’ operations.<br /> <br /> “The Gardens will be an option for visitors that will be very popular, and our event spaces will be very attractive to the community,” Tetrault shared. “Although we are limited by parking and reception areas now, we know it will grow.”<br /> <br /> Tetrault added that sponsorships of sculptures and trees by corporations and individuals is another area the Gardens will be exploring. “Or you could put your name on a building right now for $400,000,” he said with a wink.<br /> <br /> As the Gardens open in phases, donations from everyone in the community to open, manage, maintain and develop the Gardens is critical. Both organizations rely on generous donors and volunteers, corporate partners, nonprofit counterparts and community leaders.<br /> <br /> In the future, the Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens, Inc., must have the resources – through donor-advised funds, program funds and endowment resources – to ensure its visitors are treated to the most vibrant and professionally-managed gardens that resources can provide. Gifts of any size to the Gardens provide significant support by allowing it to fulfill its mission as a well-regarded organization in our community.<br /> <br /> Tetrault and Klossner invite readers to visit www.peacerivergardens.org to learn more about the ways in which you can actively support the Gardens, whether it’s through:<br /> <br /> • Donations – monetary, in-kind or botanical trees/plants<br /> <br /> • Becoming an annual member<br /> <br /> • Making a donation at one of many giving levels: the Gateway Society starting at $10,000, the Steel Palm Society at $5,000, the Peace River Society at $2,500 and the Boardwalk Society at $1,000<br /> <br /> • Sponsoring an exhibition, learning program or on-site facility<br /> <br /> • Remembering Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens in your will<br /> <br /> • Volunteering<br /> <br /> “We are not done yet. It’s our intention to make the Gardens better and better and better every year. The Foundation will ensure that this will happen no matter what happens to me,” Tetrault said. With a board of directors that includes Marlene Hofer as secretary, Rick McElhenie as treasurer, Cate Peterson as Garden Committee Chair, Dan Sater, Kirk Stirton, Shelli Green in charge of volunteers, Chip Futch running marketing and the website, John Wright chairing business relationships, Linda and Roger Tetrault as nonvoting, ex-officio members, Joan LeBeau consulting on horticulture, and Marilyn Smith-Mooney on staff as executive administrator, as well as countless builders, gardeners, volunteers, docents and supporters, the Gardens are sure to thrive. Won’t you join us?<br />
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