Interview with Eleanor Griffin of Southern Living

On Thursday, November 4, 2010, Botanica hosted its first ever Garden Project Campaign Committee luncheon at the Waterfront Development Corporation building on Louisville’s waterfront. The goal of the luncheon was to increase awareness about the Garden Project and stir enthusiasm for the work Botanica is doing.

The luncheon featured Louisville native and Honorary Chair of the Garden Project Committee, Eleanor Griffin. Eleanor is the former editor in chief of Southern Living magazine and is now their vice president of brand development. Eleanor hopes to see a botanical garden and conservatory built in Louisville and is excited to be involved with Botanica.

Dominic Gratto, a member of Botanica’s Board of Directors, had a chance to spend some time with  Eleanor and ask her a few questions about gardening, her interest in Botanica and why Louisville needs a botanical garden and conservatory. This is their conversation.

DG: In your role at Southern Living you do a lot of traveling around the country. With your busy schedule, do you get a chance to do much gardening?  

EG: Right now I am into container gardening, primarily because I travel so much. My prized possessions are some plants a friend gave me for my collection.

DG: You’ve visited many gardens across the country. Are there any particular gardens or garden features that have stood out to you?

EG: I am a big fan of Barnsley Gardens, in Adairsville, Georgia. They managed to keep so many historic structures in place in their gardens. It’s quite impressive, really. I hate to say it but I’m also a big fan of my adopted hometown’s garden – the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. They have done an outstanding job with outreach to children. There is a lot of emphasis on children with the pizza gardens and Dagwood gardens. That’s one thing that I believe is going to be important for Louisville – training and teaching future gardeners and teaching children to be conservators of the land.

DG: Didn’t the Birmingham Botanical Gardens just undergo a major renovation?

EG: Yes, they did and I hope Louisville can echo some of the things they’ve done. They feature a variety of events including great speakers geared toward mature master gardeners but they also do a lot of fun programs for inner city children that have never seen an ear of corn that isn’t shrink wrapped.

DG: Any thoughts on why a city like Louisville should have a botanical garden and conservatory?

EG: Botanical gardens are of huge importance! One of the best things I’ve seen in my travels is that they attract people on so many different levels. Of course, if you’re a master gardener you are going to come, but they are also magnets that bring people with shared interests together – whether it is gardening or just getting out together as a family on a Sunday afternoon. Botanical gardens also add to that “quality of life” we all talk about. They are great teaching tools and they nurture the soul. They add a real richness to the city and to life as a whole.

DG: I’m sure you get invited to join many organizations and causes. Why did you choose to get involved with Botanica?

EG: I chose to get involved because Louisville is my home town. It’s a super city with tremendous potential. I think our city has sometimes tended to look toward the past. The recent success of everything that’s gone on with the waterfront, the Green Building, and 21C has really captured some of the energy and excitement that’s stirring in this city. It makes me wonder what will be the next crown in the jewel for Louisville.

You can view photos of the Garden Project Campaign Committee luncheon here.

About Eleanor:

Eleanor Griffin is vice president of brand development for Southern Living magazine. Previously, she was editor in chief of Southern Living magazine, the nation’s fifth largest monthly consumer magazine. Prior to that, she was founding editor of Cottage Living magazine. In 2005, the magazine was named Adweek’s “Startup of the Year.”

A 30-year veteran of magazine publishing, Griffin previously was editorial director of corporate magazine development with Southern Progress Corporation, a division of Time Inc. She has also
served as editorial director of SPC Custom Publishing, where she launched four new consumer publications. She also served as executive editor of Southern Living magazine for nine years and
worked with several Southern Living publications, including Southern Living Weddings and Decorating Step-by-Step.

Griffin is a native of Louisville, Kentucky and a graduate of Indiana University. She is a member of the board of the United Way of Central Alabama and the YWCA of Central Alabama. She is a member
of the Junior League, a Trustee of the Birmingham Business Alliance and a graduate of Leadership Birmingham.