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The Story Behind the Grotto Painting

by Diane Harm in The Grotto Gardens
As a Montgomery County Master Gardener and a Certified Botanical Artist, Diane saw an opportunity to volunteer her skills and passions to honor the sacrifices of our Civil War Heroes, past war veterans and the current selfless protectors of our freedom.  All proceeds from the sale of prints, posters and note cards of “The Grotto” go to the restoration and maintenance of the gardens.

The Grotto gardens are a historic jewel begun by Civil War veterans living at the “Soldiers Home” now the Dayton VA Medical Center. The gardens became a destination for hundreds of thousands of visitors annually in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Over the past several decades, they became lost and overgrown.  In 2013 the Montgomery County Master Gardener volunteers, in partnership with the American Veterans Heritage Center and the Veterans Administrations, began the restoration of the gardens and they are gradually coming to life.

A memorial tree program and the generosity of individuals, organizations and garden centers provided the funds to restore the various gardens in the painting.  Since the dedication program of the memorial trees and the gardens in the summer of  2014, interest in the gardens has blossomed.  Several new gardens were created in 2015 and more are each year since..

The addition of a fountain in the lake shown in the lower left hand corner of the painting replicates the fountain that was in the original gardens.  The fountain was installed in April 2015 and was funded by the generous donations of several individuals and organizations.  The fountain dedication at the Grotto on June 17, 2016. was open to the public.

 A very important addition to the gardens in 2016 was the ramp making the gardens accessible to veterans in the nearby hospice and nursing home and to visitors who found the steep steps into gardens challenging. The generous grants from Home Depot made the ramps possible.
2017 is bringing even more improvement; a second fountain in the lower pond again funded by many generous donors and lighting throughout the gardens made possible by a grant from Home Depot.
Donations: American Veterans Heritage Center P.O. Box Fairborn, Ohio (Please designate “Grotto Project”) AVHC is a tax deductible 501 (C) (3) non-profit Charitable

To volunteer, request a speaker or tour, contact us at:

To see more about the Grotto or to buy Grotto Art visit us at:

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