BLOOMINGTON, Ill. -- A nearly $6 million gift -- the largest individual donation ever given to Illinois State University -- will create a sprawling garden that will showcase nature and serve as an outdoor classroom for horticulture students, university officials said Monday.
Officials said Bruce Green left $5.9 million to ISU in his will for a memorial garden to honor his late wife, Genevieve, an avid nature lover who attended ISU, officials said. She died in 1995. Her husband, who founded a Bloomington advertising agency, died in 2004.
"This is really a love story, about a man who cherished his wife and about a woman who held a lifelong appreciation of flowers and nature," ISU President Al Bowman said.
The six-acre garden will be developed on the grounds of Ewing Cultural Center, which is owned by the ISU Foundation and hosts an annual Shakespeare festival as well as weddings and other community and university events.
Chuck Scott, executive director of facilities services at ISU, said the project will kick off this fall and the memorial garden will be completed by the end of 2007.
Scott said the garden will feature a variety of flowers and trees, including woodland wildflowers and a Japanese garden, along with streams, ponds, sculptures and stone walkways.
About $2 million of Green's gift will be used to develop the garden, while the rest will go in a fund for long-term maintenance and improvements, Scott said.
Officials said the project will be an educational tool for students, who will help design and maintain the Genevieve Green Gardens.