FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: June 11, 2008
TO: News Editors/Human Interest/ Garden News
CONTACT: Deborah Heg, 360-321-0358
(Kingston, WA) The Pacific Northwest Horticultural Conservancy (PNHC) has ended its attempts to acquire the Heronswood Garden property.
Created as a non-profit in 2006, PNHCs primary mission was the purchase of the Kingston property that had formerly been the site of the Heronswood Nursery. PNHC hoped to preserve the original garden, and use this horticultural treasure as the inspiring starting point of a thriving center of education, plant research and public enjoyment.
PNHCs initial negotiations with the current owner of the property, W. Atlee Burpee Co., and its President George Ball had broken down in May of 2007. At its annual meeting last June, the PNHC board voted to keep the organization intact for another year to determine if any further progress could be made.
Last fall, the Garden Conservancy, a national organization devoted to the preservation of exceptional American gardens, reopened the lines of communication by acting as an intermediary between Mr. Ball and PNHC. Consequently, Mr. Ball agreed to have an independent appraisal of the property performed, which PNHC required in order to proceed with a property purchase that would be fiscally responsible and acceptable to the IRS.
Concurrently, PNHC continued its research into possible educational partnership with local institutions and code and use requirements. The business plan was fine-tuned, and a feasibility study was begun.
The appraisal and the feasibility study were both completed recently. With this information in hand, the board determined that the project was no longer viable as envisioned.
The key findings of the feasibility study pointed to some insurmountable limiting factors: too much time had passed since the initial closing of the garden, and there was no longer sufficient community interest and financial support to move forward. Additionally, in these two years the economic climate has worsened, impacting fundraising efforts negatively.
The full board of PNHC will hold its annual meeting at the end of June and discuss the future of the organization.
As to the future of Heronswood Garden, PNHC is reassured by Mr. Balls pledge to require any purchaser of the property to preserve and maintain the garden.
We extend our gratitude to all who have supported our mission, and have contributed their time, efforts, funds and conviction to a vision of a future built on the foundation and principles that first created the now historic horticultural gem that is the Heronswood Garden.