The Henderson County Education Foundation (HCEF) has formally transferred to Bullington Gardens the ownership of the 12-acre public garden and horticultural education center lovingly developed and maintained for 31 years by Bullington’s staff and volunteers.
A gold key recognizing the purchase was passed from the Foundation to Bullington staff at a celebration held October 6 on the grounds of Bullington Gardens.
“When nonprofit boards come together for collaboration and leave territoriality at the door, amazing things can happen,” says HCEF Director Summer Stipe. “We wish them well as they launch into the next phase of their property development as the WNC jewel that it is.”
Bullington Gardens was originally the home and nursery of Bob Bullington, a retired New York City police officer with a true passion for horticulture. Bob and Sally Bullington founded Flora Knoll Farms, an ornamental nursery where Bullington explored his vision for introducing new and unusual pants in the nursery trade. Upon his death in 1989, the grounds became the property of the HCEF which leased it to the Henderson County Public Schools as the Bullington Horticultural Learning Center. The long-time partnership with Henderson County Schools and the NC Cooperative Extension will continue.
Bullington Gardens’ leadership team now looks forward to maximizing the full potential of the property. “For many years, we’ve enjoyed a win/win partnership with HCEF,” says Annie Higgins, Bullington Gardens Administrative Director. “But in order to grow, we need to invest. In order to invest, we need to own.”
With a grant from Dogwood Health Trust, Bullington Gardens developed the first conceptual phase of the master plan to further its mission to educate and inspire children and adults in horticulture and the natural sciences. The next phases of the plan include the survey, grading and drainage, and construction plans.
This venue has become a popular destination for gardening enthusiasts, tourists, families and students. The Board recognizes the importance of managing this growth so that Bullington Gardens continues to thrive and serve. According to John Murphy, Education Director, “The master plan will be in the works for some time, but we’ve identified two areas that have shown our growing pains: the need for more parking and public restrooms. Over the next few years, we will look at how to implement our plans and begin raising the funds needed to keep us serving Henderson County.”
But for now, volunteers and staff are celebrating the very satisfying results of 31 years of dedication and hard work. Prominently displayed is the gold key symbolizing both this new acquisition and the next chapter for what is called a “Garden with Heart.”
For more information about Bullington Gardens, visit www.bullingtongardens.org or call 828-698-6104.