Founded in 1921 by Walter E. Lenk, Belmont Gardens was once an eight-acre greenhouse complex. Mr. Lenk lived in the historic house at 170 Brighton St. adjacent to the business, with his wife Mabel and two sons, Walter and Richard. Mr. Lenk was issued one of the first patents on a flower when he created a hybrid gardenia that was both beautiful and strong – it was named the “Belmont Gardenia”. He encouraged their growth by using ultraviolet light. During the height of its popularity, approximately 8,000 gardenias were shipped each day during the growing season. It was the gardenia of choice at the White House for a time and enjoyed by many a common man as one of Mr. Lenk’s impetuses for creating the flower was to keep its price within reach. Mr. Lenk passed away in 1949. Walter and Richard discontinued the business in 1952 when Richard married and built a modern house where the greenhouses once stood. Richard lived there with his wife, Audrey and two children, Erica and Allison until his passing in 1994. In 2005, his widow gifted the remaining open space which had once been Belmont Gardens to the Belmont Land Trust. Her daughter Allison and husband Sebastian presently live in the house that Richard built. They highly value the history of the site and the need to protect crucial open space in Belmont.
Allison Lenk – February 20, 2023
The Belmont Gardens property is owned and managed by the Belmont Land Trust. It was a gift by the Lenk family to the The Belmont Land Trust in 2005. The wooded lot consists of approximately .4 acres of land along Hoitt Road in the Winn Brook neighborhood. The open land was once part of an eight acre greenhouse complex known as Belmont Gardens. Established in 1921 by the Lenk family, Belmont Gardens became nationally recognized for its Belmont Gardenia. The Belmont Gardenia was one of the first flowers to receive a patent by the US Patent Office, in 1934. During the Belmont Gardens growing season 8,000 gardenia were typically shipped per day. In 1950, a record shipment of 14,000 gardenia was made in one single day. The Lenk family operated Belmont Gardens over a 34 year period and by 1954 it represented one of the few remaining large agricultural businesses in Belmont.
Belmont Gardenia is almost old enough to be an heirloom variety being patented in 1934 by Walter E. Lenk on Belmont Estate, Massachussets. In his patent application, PP93, he states that “The variety is an extraordinarily heavy producer and can be propagated rapidly. ”
Today, the former Belmont Gardens has been fully developed into residences except for this last parcel at 17 Hoitt Road maintained by the Belmont Land Trust as a memorial to the Lenk family’s interest in open space preservation and a historical reminder of Belmont’s farming past. The removal of invasive plant species has been completed and continues to be managed. The installation of native plantings is being planned for the property to enhance its natural setting and habitat value.
The Lenk Family
As residents of Belmont for over a generation, the Lenk family was kind enough to provide their contribution to the Belmont Land Trust.
“This is a wise investment in the future.” says Ed Lenk, who is very happy that this land will remain protected for the future.
A sign honoring the history of Belmont Gardens was installed at the property in 2010 by the Belmont Land Trust.