Louis’ activities on behalf of charitable agencies are testament to his abiding concern for, and interest in beautifying the world—not only through planting, growing and nurturing all things green, but also through transforming places and people into kinder, more hospitable communities.
Louis has occasionally been asked to donate his talents and services for auction at charity functions that raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for non-profit institutions like inner city churches, regional symphonies, arts centers, women’s shelters, literary reviews, and prep and charter schools. Some of the organizations for which Louis has helped to raise money include the Trinity School, New York, NY; Fourth Presbyterian Church, Dorcester, MA; Goodspeed Opera House, East Haddam, CT; Longy School of Music, Cambridge, MA; Trailside Museum, Canton, MA; the Kenyon Review, Kenyon, OH; the Riverdale Country Day School, Bronx, NY; Sophia Academy, Providence, RI; and the Milton Fund for Education, Milton, MA.
In addition to his donation of landscaping services, Louis has also contributed to the success of numerous other auctions—but on these occasions, from up on the dais. A fearless and humorous auctioneer, Louis has raised many hundreds of thousands of dollars for charities, from arts centers to land trusts to plant societies. Some of the organizations that have benefited from Louis’ theatricality behind the podium are the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts, Old Lyme, CT; IonaFest, Providence, RI; Southside Community Land Trust, Providence, RI; Rhode Island Courthouse Center for the Arts, Rhode Island Wild Plant Society, Rhode Island Philharmonic, and the South Kingston Land Trust.
These are usually fundraisers for designated local charities, often women’s shelters and children’s advocacy agencies. Louis has participated in a number of showhouses sponsored by the Newport Decorator Showhouse Guild. For several of these events he served as chairperson for the Exterior Displays Division, recruiting garden designers to create outdoor displays and also designing several himself. Down on the Gentleman’s Farm is one of Louis’ designer showcase projects.
Louis has participated in countless flower shows sponsored by non-profit horticultural societies. He has had a long and fruitful association with the New England Spring Flower Show, the longest running show of its kind in the USA—133 years—sponsored by the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, Boston, MA. Initially he was affiliated with the show as a lecturer. This involvement was followed by his hire in the role of host of a video about the show that was produced for several consecutive years. As a result of Louis’ appeal and popularity on these videos, he was asked by the then-President of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society to assume the position of the show’s first-ever show designer.
From 1998 to 2003, Louis oversaw each show’s 50+ gardens. As show designer, he was responsible for assembling the roster of landscapers, reviewing/approving design concepts, generating floor plans, and designing/implementation of special display gardens. He resigned the position after six successful seasons because his own projects were taking him out of the country with increasing frequency.
Boston has not been the sole beneficiary of Louis’ landscaping talents and experience at its prestigious flower show. He has also exhibited his design work on a number of occasions at the Rhode Island Spring Flower & Garden Show, as well as offering several of his entertaining, insightful and educational lectures to its attendees.
For the Philadelphia Flower Show, sponsored by The Philadelphia Horticultural Society, Louis was called upon to serve as a judge for this prestigious annual event—the largest flower show in the world. And at the Newport Flower Show, a production of the Preservation Society of Newport County, Newport, RI, Louis has lectured, exhibited, staged their Horticultural Division (i.e., potted plants, not the cut flower division) and created displays on behalf of various sponsors. The 2005 Newport Flower Show welcomed Louis as their "opening act," when he offered the keynote address (his lecture entitled "The Show Must Go On: Confessions of an Exhibitionist") on day one of the three-day event.
Like flower shows, garden tours are frequently fundraisers for not-for-profit horticultural societies and beautification committees. For Blithewold Mansion & Gardens, located in Bristol, RI and overlooking Narragansett Bay, Louis has twice served as chairperson for their annual garden tour.
A number of gardens landscaped by Louis have been accorded the distinction of being included on various garden tours. Louis’ Cape Summer Garden was included on a tour sponsored by Heritage Plantation, Sandwich, MA, in July of 2005 to raise funds for this complex of museums devoted to early American life.
Board of Directors’ Involvement
Since 1995, Louis has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Southside Community Land Trust, Providence, RI. This non-profit agency provides resources to assist communities in becoming more self-sufficient and improving their quality of life. Southside’s activities include promoting and implementing community gardening, providing access to locally grown farm produce, facilitating environmental education, and catalyzing solutions for related community needs. Southside has a variety of community gardens, including a 50-acre farm near Providence that offers a four-year training program for farmers. The agency also presents educational programs in schools and at its own City Farm, a half-acre organic farm in the heart of Providence’s Southside. It also participates in, and manages several farmers’ markets, as well as a community-sponsored agriculture project.
Louis is passionate in his support for this worthy organization, and is proud to have served as chairperson for their annual Plant Sale, at which he debuted his lecture, "Astonishing Annuals: Four Centuries of Garden Discovery." He is Board President.