National Garden Project

InNovember of 1996, four members of National Council of StateGarden Clubs, Inc. (NCSGC) met in Washington, D. C. to learnfirsthand about plans for establishing a National Garden on athree-acre site adjacent to the United States Botanic GardenConservatory. One of the purposes of the meeting was todetermine if NCSGC could participate by raising funds for aButterfly Garden, a project which would span four years duringthe terms of the next two NCSGC Presidents.

Those in attendance were Barbara Barnette (incoming President1997-1999), Deen Day Smith (incoming President 1999-2001 and appointedto serve as National Garden Project Chairman), Gerry St. Peters(appointed to serve as Vice-Chairman), and Joan Craig (Shell/PETALSChairman). Since Philip J. Carroll, President and CEO of Shell OilCompany, had suggested the possibility of NCSGC being involved with theNational Garden, the meeting was held at the Shell Oil CompanyHeadquarters in Washington, D. C. Also in attendance at the meeting wereStephen Ward, Vice President of Government Affairs for Shell OilCompany, Betty Lynn McHam, Shell Oil Company Program Manager, and RobertHansen, Executive Director of the National Fund for the U. S. BotanicGarden (NFUSBG). A nonprofit tax-exempt organization, NFUSBG wasestablished to be the primary vehicle for raising the necessary fundsfor the design, construction, operation and maintenance of the NationalGarden.

We were impressed with the mission of the proposed NationalGarden: “To promote the great diversity of American plants andtheir importance to the environment, emphasize the need toconserve many plant species, and demonstrate how plants can beused to improve and enrich our daily lives.” The garden willfeature an Environmental Learning Center, a Water Gardenhonoring America’s First Ladies, a Rose Garden exhibitingvarieties of our national flower, the rose, and a ShowcaseGarden for flora and fauna native to the Mid-Atlantic region.Cost was estimated at ten million dollars.

Our plans for a Butterfly Garden were welcomed, and the areaselected was along Maryland Avenue near the Lawn Terrace.Besides plants that attract butterflies, the plans included abronze sundial and four benches featuring butterflies and roses.Informational materials would also be provided to educate thepublic on butterfly gardening.

With the acceptance of our Butterfly Garden plans, the challengeto raise the necessary funds began. It was determined that to besuccessful the project needed to be ready to implement at thevery beginning of the 1997-1999 administration. With financialassistance of $50,000 from Shell Oil Company, the StatePresidents for the 1997-1999 administration were taken toWashington, D. C. following the 1997 National Convention inSouth Carolina. They toured the site, were immersed in theplans, and left with an overabundance of enthusiasm. They werevery instrumental in the success of the project.

To aid in promoting the National Garden Project, each state wasprovided with an informative folding display board to be used atstate, district and club events, flower shows, symposiums,fairs, garden center displays, etc. Colorful brochures with adiagram of the proposed garden were supplied to each state. Abooklet, Fun(d)raising Ideas for the National Garden, containedmany innovative ideas to assist the clubs in raising funds, andat the same time, to enjoy the experience.

To raise funds, it was important to provide quality items forsale that would appeal to the general membership. Steve Bixby ofOrion Marketing in Virginia had designed Christmas ornaments forFlorida’s state federation. He was asked to design four limitededition ornaments for the National Garden, one for each of theyears of the project—1997, 1998, 1999, 2000. The ornament salescreated a great deal of revenue, and NFUSBG also sold ourornaments to the Senate and House Gift Shops. Selling price was$15, with cost ranging from $6.19 to $7.23 depending upondesign. Each was accompanied by a brochure explaining thesignificance of the design and our involvement in the NationalGarden Project. Approximate quantities ordered were:
1997 – 7,800 1998 – 10,100 1999 – 5,800 2000 – 7,200
Members express