Situated in a natural hollow on the campus of Hollins University, this twenty-acre garden honors the legacy of civic leader Lucy Preston Beale. Although she did not graduate, Beale attended Hollins in 1863. After she died in 1928, Beale’s daughter Lucy Beale Huffman gifted a memorial garden to Hollins and commissioned landscape architect Albert Farnham to design it. Farnham selected the location, a short distance from a footbridge, and proposed diverting a small stream to create a series of pools and cascades. An informal garden already was present at the location, tended by biology professor Thalia Hayward. Farnham retained some of Hayward’s trees, bulbs, and perennials, to which he added an arcing limestone wall, benches, and curvilinear brick paths. Completed in 1930, the garden comprised flowering shrubs such as azalea and rhododendron, water-loving plants including Japanese iris and fern, and specimen black pine, hemlock, ash, and sweet gum. Providing connections to key campus buildings, the undulating path traversed the small brook with several bridges.
Although the garden quickly became a campus landmark, it was reduced in size with the construction of a dormitory in 1952 and the DuPont Chapel in 1959. Because the campus lacked a formal master plan, the garden’s plantings and hardscape slowly diminished in the subsequent decades. In 2005 the Garden Club of Virginia and landscape architect William Rieley commenced a rejuvenation of the site based on Farnham’s original plans. Walls and bridges were reconstructed, the creek was widened, paths were resurfaced with crushed stone from the deteriorated walls, and the planting palette was refreshed with native species.