QBARS - v27n3 American Horticultrual Society's National Center

American Horticultural Society Sets Up
National Horticultural Center

David G. Leach, North Madison, Ohio

Home of the American Horticultural Society
Fig.33. Mansion at Wellington was formerly owned by
George Washington. The Estate is the new home of the
American Horticultural Society.
Photo courtesy of AHS

On February 23, 1973 the American Horticultural Society purchased "Wellington", George Washington's classic 18th century Potomac estate, five miles upriver from Mount Vernon. The 25-acre property is a part of land patented in 1653, and purchased by George Washington in 1760. The mansion, with its outbuildings, contains 42 rooms.

Mrs. Enid A. Haupt of New York, magazine editor, horticulturist and philanthropist, and an officer of the American Horticultural Society, made a grant of $1,000,000 for the purchase of the estate and its initial development.

American horticulture acquires in Wellington Estate a home such as British gardeners have had for generations at Wisley, the gardens of the Royal Horticultural Society. The estate is worthy of the loyalty and affection in which the English hold their own headquarters.

The establishment of a National Center for American Horticulture at Wellington should lend the force and focus of concerted effort to the projection of the values that horticulture represents. Wellington will be the public image of horticulture as one of the arts and sciences in American culture, and as one of the important factors contributing to the solution of the urban environmental crisis.

The American Horticultural Society plans to house at Wellington all of the scientific, professional and amateur horticultural organizations that wish to become tenants, and many have already expressed their pleasure and satisfaction at having the opportunity. The smaller societies can share professional executive direction, editorial and design expertise, printing and mailing facilities, a stenographic pool and office hardware. They will be able to operate much more effectively at substantially lower cost.

The American Horticultural Society will expand the existing beautiful gardens at Wellington, and specialized gardens will be planted by societies which concentrate their attention on a single plant genus. Negotiations are now under way with the Potomac Valley Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society to establish a display garden in a ravine on the estate. Gardens designed to test the adaptability of new and rare trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants to the climate of the Washington area will be provided. Demonstration gardens will show visitors how their homes can be landscaped to achieve individuality and pride of ownership. The Society expects to build greenhouses and a conservatory. Wellington will be planned as a horticultural showplace, open to the public.

The Society expects to establish at Wellington a teaching center for the role of horticulture in environmental education, in cooperation with area colleges and universities.

It plans to offer credit courses to high school seniors with an interest in plants, by arrangement with district secondary schools. There will be lectures by national and international horticultural authorities, open to the public. The Society plans to stage seasonal flower shows, and to provide meeting facilities for local horticultural organizations.

The American Horticultural Society will move its computerized Plants Records Center to Wellington. It is the only plant science information center in the world, operated under a grant from Longwood Foundation.

The administration of the National Junior Horticultural Association, an organization of more than 20,000 young people, will be moved to the Potomac estate at the same time that the Society's offices are transferred.

The Society plans to house at Wellington a major horticultural library of books and films. Offers of important book collections have already been made.

A major fund-raising effort will shortly be launched to increase the society's staff to meet the demands of its expanded activities.