Why We Give: Jacques and Nancy
Decades of Inspiration

Jacques and Nancy BaenzigerJacques and Nancy in their home garden

Jacques and Nancy Baenziger have enjoyed watching the Missouri Botanical Garden grow and change. They met at Washington University as graduate students, new to St. Louis in the early ‘70s.

The couple visited the Garden and learned about the plans of the Garden’s new president, Dr. Peter H. Raven. Jacques bought his first orchids at a Garden plant sale, beginning a passion for growing and photographing the plants. Together, the couple watched the Garden evolve.

After they completed their doctoral work and bought their current home, the Baenzigers would come to the Garden for ideas. The Garden’s incremental change was inspiring, especially with the Japanese Garden and the William T. Kemper Center for Home Gardening.

“You realized you could just do a little bit at a time and achieve big results,” Nancy said. “And it was gratifying to see even the Garden didn’t get everything 100 percent right on the first try. If they had to move a plant to make it thrive, I didn’t feel bad about having to do it at home.”

As scientists, the Baenzigers were also interested in how the Garden’s international plant science and conservation work related to the living collections at the Garden.

“It’s so interesting to learn about mapping technologies and the databases for plant genetics and growth histories,” Jacques says. “It feels good to support those endeavors.”

After more than four decades, the Baenzigers still visit frequently. Jacques loves photographing the Garden. They’ve made donations—and purchases—of antiques at the Little Shop Around the Corner. They appreciate how the Garden educates people about plants, both formally and informally.

“The Garden isn’t just a beautiful place or a serene place,” Jacques says. “It’s a learning place.”

Because the Baenzigers want the Garden to continue to evolve and engage visitors with science and education, they have joined the Heritage Society and named the Garden as a beneficiary of their estate.

“The Garden means a lot to us,” Jacques says. “We understand that everything we see has been contributed by other people. This is our way of signing on to that idea and contributing to our community.”