Special Presentations Highlight 2003 Gala in the Garden

Adding some sci-fi enchantment, a grasshopper sculpture (left) greets gala guests, who moved on to enjoy the living things of beauty (right). (Photos by Becky Kirkland)The annual Gala in the Garden at N.C. State's JC Raulston Arborteum is always a special event, and the 2003 version was no different. Not only did it celebrate the efforts of the arboretum's staff, volunteers and patrons, but it was the occasion for special presentations, including one to outgoing College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Dean James L. Oblinger, who was presented a commemorative plaque that will be placed on an arboretum bench in his honor.

In his welcoming remarks, Oblinger said, "This beautiful place has been a jewel in our College's program for more than 27 years through its remarkable plant research, outstanding teaching opportunities and stellar reputation throughout the United States and the world."

He thanked the members, private donors and volunteers, whose "hundreds of thousands of hours" of work have enhanced the arb's reputation and survival. He then gave special recognition to one of those supporters, Dr. Harvey Baumgardner, professor emeritus of poultry science in the College and an N.C. State alumnus, for showing "what an extraordinary difference one person can make."

Baumgardner, praised by Oblinger for "giving freely of his talents to the horticultural community," is the founding rosarian for JC Raulston Arboretum's rose garden, has been its volunteer curator since its inception and coordinated the effort to completely restore the garden.

Gala guests visiting the lush Finley Rose Garden could see the fruits of such volunteer efforts in the multicolored blooms, which were were at their peak, and in the myriad plant varieties along the green pathways of the arboretum.

A sylvan glade offers many fine plants for perusal --- and for purchase along with hundreds of other silent auction items --- at the 2003 Gala in the Garden at JC Raulston Arboretum. (Photo by Becky Kirkland)Adding to the color of the place were the silent auction tents, set up along the the mixed border and the perennial border, where more than 750 plants (one estimate had it at 1,000), donated by nurseries and botanical industries nationwide, were available for bid. Displayed nearby were 150 items-for-bid, including autographed artwork, photographs, books, NCSU team footballs and basketballs - and Torry Holt's St. Louis Rams football jersey.

Toward evening came the Pocket Garden Drawing, as Rosemary and Smedes York, honorary co-chairs of the event, drew from among tickets purchased as chances to name an area in the arb known as the Pocket Garden. The winning ticket belonged to Lynn Beckom, who had entered on behalf of the Pioneer Garden Club of Hickory, where she is a member. The news that the garden will be named in honor of that club - whose members have an average age of 89 to 90 years old - added just another special element to the gala.

Terri Leith

This article was originally included in the Summer 2003 Perspectives, The Magazine of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Click here to read the original article.

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