Who is Daniel Stowe and why was a botanical garden named after him?

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“The Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden will be no ordinary flower patch,” Dave Baity wrote to open a 1991 Charlotte Observer article. “It’s beginning with the largest single donation of land and money for public benefit in Gaston County history — an unprecedented $27.8 million.”

You definitely can’t call the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden (DSBG) a flower patch. Today, more than a dozen attractions and gardens are open at the nonprofit organization’s site, including the Encore Azalea Garden, the Willow Maze and the Orchid Conservatory. The property is currently decked out with more than 800 lanterns for an eight-week exhibition called the Chinese Lantern Festival.

Chinese Lantern Festival

Further development will unfold in the coming years, backed by public and private support to bring in a Tropical House, Asian Gardens, a Children’s Garden and other attractions, according to the DSBG’s master plan.

But who is the garden named after?

Daniel Jonathan Stowe, a retired textile executive in Belmont, set aside more than 400 acres of land in 1991 with a botanical garden in mind.

He graduated from Belmont Abbey Junior College in 1932 and Davidson College in 1935. He started working with his father and brother in the yarn business in 1936 and was part of the partnership that started Stowe Mills in 1939 and Pharr Yarns, Inc. in 1950. When he retired at age 77, Stowe’s main focus was the creation of DSBG.

Stowe, who happened to be a longtime friend and business associate of then-Gastonia Mayor Jick Garland, donated $13.8 million in land and $14 million in funds with his wife Alene to kick off the project. Garland was positioned as president of the conservancy that Stowe created to plan and build the gardens.

“We may think we are nurturing our garden, but of course it’s our garden that is really nurturing us.” – Jenny Uglow

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At the time, political and business leaders believed the endeavor would bring in new jobs, boost tourism and heighten national prestige for Gaston County.

Hugh McColl, then-chairman of NCNB Corp., told the Observer, “When you provide such a draw, people go out of their way to come there. That can only be good for hotels, motels, restaurants and other businesses throughout the area.”

DSBG’s master plan was approved in 1994 by the organization’s board of directors to develop the property over the span of 50 years. The Visitor Pavilion, Formal Display Gardens and Perennial Gardens opened to the public in 1999.

Stowe died in 2006, leaving behind his wife, stepchildren and extended family.

He also left behind his “flower patch” filled with upcoming events (like a Beer Walk on Sept. 30), private event space, school programs and family programs, and acres and acres of spectacularly curated plant life.

Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden: 6500 South New Hope Road, Belmont, NC

Photos: John D. Simmons/Charlotte Observer


  1. Very nice display. We were there last week and they had some great beer selections and a couple food trucks. The Chinese lantern festival was beautiful and some friends that work for Envirosafe Pest Control Orlando http://www.orlandopestcontrol.com was in town and they loved it. Thanks for the great story and letting folks know about happenings in and around Charlotte.

  2. I have a question…..Daniel Stowe had a beautiful home on the property that is now being developed by McLean near the gardens. What happened to his house? The driveway was lined with cherry trees which are still there, but no house. I hope it was not torn down. Does anyone know??


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