By early 1961, it became apparent that, in order to ensure that Gardenview would endure as an “oasis of beauty” forever, it had to be legally dedicated as a public park. Accordingly, a non-profit corporation was created under the laws of the State of Ohio to operate and administer Gardenview in perpetuity. The title to the property was turned over to the corporation AS A GIFT with the stipulation that it must remain a public park forever. Throughout the next 20 years, the value of the land attracted attention. To hold onto Gardenview, Henry prepared his own legal briefs and represented himself eight times in court successfully.  

 

Although this solved the legal status for the perpetuation of Gardenview, there was still very little money with which to work and not enough to hire the help needed to maintain the grounds. Relying entirely on the support of its members, Gardenview continues to face these challenges. Presently, the budget only allows funding for one full time gardener.

 

1949

Now a 23 year-old World War II veteran and college graduate, Henry managed to borrow enough money to purchase 16-acre parcel of run-down land in Strongsville. Enamored with the land's unique design, Henry made the purchase in the winter, not knowing until the snow melted the poor soil and drainage conditions. Nothing would grow on it except blackberry brambles and the most tenacious of weeds. 

 

In the beginning...

At a point in the mid-1930s, a young boy named Henry Ross began spending his time puttering in the garden of his parents’ small home, located in Cleveland Ohio, all the while reading of the beautiful public gardens of England and Europe, and dreaming of one day being able to create something similar.

Henry A. Ross

With only the money he was able to earn from a part-time job, Henry spent the next 12 years of backbreaking labor, 18 hours a day, 7 days a week, transforming desolation into at least a beginning of what he had envisioned. Thousands of truckloads of manure had to be shoveled, wheelbarrowed and spread up to three feet deep around the gardens. Miles of drain tile were installed, all by hand. Slowly, the land began to come back to life, and Gardenview began to develop, one painstaking step at a time.

“Great things are done one day at a time. This garden is proof of the effort of one person’s one day at a time on God’s Earth.” The McCauleys 

“This is a labor of love and dedication beyond words…” Bissell Marks

From its conception, most of the physical work of maintaining the 16 acres, was done by the original founder as an upaid volunteer. From 1995 on, Henry was assisted by a volunteer apprentice, Mark LaRosa who currently works and lives at Gardenview helping to keep Henry's dream alive. 

Mark LaRosa
Br. Mural Bhai, general secretary and trustee of the Dakshineswar Ramkrishna Sangha Adyapeath, a charitable and educational institution in the heart of Kolkata, India. 

"I ask that there be absolutely no grieving after my death, since the death of a human being is no different than an egg hatching into a bird or a cocoon hatching into a butterfly. The "essence" of that being has not "died" but has merely been transformed into something better. I have had my life, and it has been the most wonderful life.

 

I have had the great good fortune to spend my life in a Paradise-Garden of Eden, which I was fortunate to enough to be able to create.

 

 It is my sincere hope that Gardenview Horticultural Park shall continue forever." 

  Henry A. Ross (1926-2014)

Henry leading a garden club tour.