May 31, 2016

The featured photo has nothing to do with the topic of this week’s post. It shows a red-spotted newt found by Brian Balik and Matt Neff in our trailside swale while previewing the Quarry Gardens site for the Virginia Herpetological Society’s survey on Saturday, June 4.

The big news this week is that (hurrah!) we have been confirmed by the IRS as a non-profit, tax-exempt, private eleemosynary organization: The Quarry Gardens Foundation. This means that the URL for our web page will be a dot-org rather than a dot-com (don’t worry, we’ll have automatic forwarding to the new landing page from the current one), and we’ll have to get new business cards and bank accounts and such. But these are minor matters. Of significance, it means that we will now be able to solicit tax-exempt memberships and contributions, create partnerships with other non-profits, and seek help from volunteers to pursue our primary and educational purposes of furthering knowledge of native plants of the Atlantic Piedmont and the history of soapstone quarrying in Nelson County.

We are also beginning to plan for how we will operate after the opening date (still on schedule!) of April, 2017. We will be open to the public at no charge, but we do need to control access for various reasons, not the least of which is that the site is inherently dangerous and large enough to be confusing to first-time visitors. Thus, we want to ensure that everyone gets at least an introductory explanation by an “official” guide (likely Bernice or Armand). We plan to start by offering free guided tours of the gardens for small groups on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, available spaces and times to be posted on the website and filled first-come-first-served. Special tours by groups and organizations can be booked for other times, if arranged well in advance, as will use of the classroom facilities for meetings or lectures. Those who choose to join the Foundation at various membership levels will be given special access rights.

Our visitors from various gardening and other interest groups have given us helpful insight, but we have much more to think about. Thanks for all your support and interest so far. It’s been fun for us, too.

Next posts will report how we fare on the PBS Virginia Home Grown TV show May 31 (later tonight), and what we learn at the American Public Gardens Association conference in Miami next week. Stay tuned.