Arboretum to public: Grade me

Posted on | February 8, 2011 | No Comments

The Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, which was given a hard time in these pages, has called in experts to help canvas those who use the garden on what they think are its strengths and weaknesses. To that end, the consultants would like anyone interested to complete the following questionnaire. I strongly urge anyone who cares about horticulture in Southern California to take five minutes to do it.

Of course, the design of the questionnaire may not ultimately drive at the reason there is invariable sprinkler run-off coursing down Baldwin Avenue from the Arboretum, even after rains. The Arboretum is jointly run by the County of Los Angeles and a foundation that keeps a lower profile than a gopher in Antarctica. Missing from the questionnaire is any inquiry about the efficacy of this split leadership. Who among us has even heard of the Los Angeles Arboretum Foundation, Inc.? Who are the trustees? Where and when and how often does the board meet? Are the meetings open to the public? Are the agendas posted? Are the minutes published? What authority does it have? How much do trustees give in cash or time? If it’s time they’re donating, who’s putting the value on that? Do trustees or businesses that they are associated with receive contracts from the Arboretum?

It’s impolite to suggest that anyone who is all about flowers and sunshine might be incompetent, or worse, but it’s fair to ask that the Trustees be daylighted and that their meetings should be open to the public and minutes published. Even the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power does that.

Masonic tendencies aside, it’s still a good sign that the Arb wants to know what we think of its classes, its collection, its lunchroom, its relevance, the cuteness of its peafowl etc, good and bad. I, for one, believe that the new head is seriously aiming to make it into a world-class garden and I want him to succeed.

UPDATES: A correspondent asks by e-mail: “Do the board members raise money? Are they committed and obligated to do so?” Good questions. Another correspondent sent this list of trustees, which appears on the stationery, but nowhere online.


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