The JC Raulston Arboretum Master Plan
"It's All About the Plants"
By Denny Werner, Director
On April 20, 2007 the JC Raulston Arboretum Master Plan was presented to and unanimously approved by the JCRA Board of Advisors. It was then presented to the JCRA membership at a special summer Friends of the Arboretum Lecture in June where it was received with much enthusiasm and excitement.
My sincere thanks and appreciation go out to the members of the Master Plan committee, Harriett Bellerjeau, Suzanne Edney, Rick Boggs, Robert Mackintosh, Beth Jimenez, Jeff Evans, and Matt Roberts. This passionate and creative group of JCRA members gave of their time and talent for over a year to develop this important plan for the JCRA. We are proud that the plan had little cost associated with it's creation through the kind efforts of these six very special JCRA members. Also, we thank all those who contributed their heartfelt ideas for consideration in the design process.
The JCRA Master Plan project evolved from the realization that the JCRA, particularly in the post-Ruby C. McSwain Education Center construction era, lacked a cohesive and coherent plan for future development of the gardens. This was brought home to us by an American Association of Museums review of the JCRA in March 2005. Their report pointed out the lack of a post-construction master site plan for the JCRA. When I arrived as director in 2005, I also recognized this as a serious limitation to future physical development and educational interpretation of the Arboretum. Consequently, a JCRA volunteer committee comprised of landscape architects, a landscape designer, an artist, and a nurseryman came forward from our own membership and offered to develop a physical and interpretative master plan for the JCRA. I was amazed and delighted to urge them forward.
Taking over a year to develop, the Master Plan has addressed these important issues:
- a more cohesive path system
- improved universal accessibility
- ongoing opportunities for student and professional involvement
- improved educational interpretation of the collection
- equipment movement through the JCRA
- areas that will facilitate major events, such as workshops, the Gala, Arborfest, graduation, and field days
- an enhanced presentation of our diverse plant collection
- inspirational experiences for our visitors
- integration of newly acquired land into the JCRA
I am excited about the dynamic and positive changes that will occur at the JCRA as implementation goes forward. The next big step is to use the Master Plan as a critical tool in facilitating this future development with a carefully prepared list of priorities. Lest you think that the adoption of the new Master Plan suggests that the JCRA is going in a "new direction", please be reminded that the final master plan report is entitled "It's All About the Plants." Throughout the development of the Master Plan, the committee was guided by the Mission Statement and Strategic Goals of the JC Raulston Arboretum. The Arboretum's passion and commitment to acquiring, testing, developing, and displaying an exciting, diverse, and eclectic collection of plants is unwavering, as is our mission in providing educational and outreach programs that inform students, the nursery industry, and the public about responsible, inspirational design and management of cultivated landscapes. In my mind, an arboretum's collections should be a celebration of the diversity and beauty of the plant kingdom, and should educate and inspire visitors any time they visit the Arboretum. Implementation of the Master Plan will facilitate the accomplishment of these goals.
I realize that implementation of the Master Plan will take time, funding, human resources, hard work, and patience. Unlike the concentrated construction of our beautiful McSwain Center which took a little over a year and a half to complete, we see the Master Plan unfolding over time as our history has indicated. As we begin to raise funds to 'Raise the Garden," our hope is that potential donors will be able to review and pinpoint their special interests within the Master Plan. I know you can appreciate as I do the power of this wonderful tool and hope all who visit the JCRA will begin to discover ways to help us accomplish this insightful vision for the future.
I imagine the enthusiasm of all who worked so hard and shared so much to transform a future landscape of the JCRA will continue for years to come. Please celebrate with all who were involved by spreading the word and thus help "Raise the Garden" with our new Master Plan.
Please contact Anne Porter, director of development, should you wish to make a contribution supporting the JC Raulston Arboretum. Your generosity is greatly appreciated.