Our mission is: to nurture an appreciation of nature and the interaction of people and plants.
The Leila Arboretum dates back to 1922 when Leila Post Montgomery, widow of cereal magnate C. W. Post, donated 72 acres of land to the city of Battle Creek that had formerly been the site of the Battle Creek Country Club. She envisioned a center for culture amid the beauty of nature.
In 1924, landscape architect T. Clifton Shepherd, created an impressive design, but harsh realities of the Depression overshadowed the masterpiece in progress. Arboretum plans languished for more than fifty years.
In the autumn of 1981, determined to reclaim former beauty from overgrown brush, a group of citizens with a vision for what could be, formed Leila Arboretum Society (LAS).
Don't be misled by "Society" in our name. LAS began as a hard-working cadre of people willing to get their hands and knees dirty and remains so today. With membership and volunteers numbering in the hundreds, the Arboretum has been reborn and the love for natural spaces and gardening places has translated into friendships, a downtown that has drawn national attention, neighborhood landscaping projects, city gateway plantings, and classes that lead to master gardener certification and sheer enjoyment! There is even a one-acre Children's Garden that has enitced representatives from other cities across the country, as well as a few from Australia, here to see how it was done!
A Few Facts and Figures
LAS is a licensed 501 c 3 nonprofit organization. Its income comes from memberships, grants, gifts, commemoratives, contracts, and fee-based services.
Fee-based services include grounds and facility rentals, professional consultation, and educational programs.
The Arboretum is owned and partially maintained by the City of Battle Creek as part of its parks system. Under contract, LAS manages its more than 3,000 trees, shrubs, perennials, and annuals, several of which are living memorials or tributes to special people.
The Children's Garden, a secure, one- acre site, offers educational field trips and family learning experiences from spring through October.
LAS spearheaded "BC Green" projects throughout the city to inspire neighborhood spirit and improve quality of life. More than 50 such projects took root and continue under citizen leadership.
Growing in the Garden classes are offered each spring and fall for the sheer enjoyment of gardening, the creative process, and home landscape management.
A Master Gardener Volunteer Program for certification is offered each year in association with Michigan State University Extension.
LAS professional horticulturists, under contract, design and maintain seasonal business district displays, one of the reasons Battle Creek has received praise for having one of the most attractive downtowns in the country.