De Dreijen Arboretum ought to belong to the inhabitants of Wageningen. This is the opinion of activists for preservation of the gardens. To gauge buyers'enthusiasm, a garden viewing day will be held on Saturday.
The viewing day is sparked off by a group of concerned Wageningers which took advantage of the opening of the academic year last Monday to rally support for preserving De Dreijen Arboretum. Their move to take stock of plant varieties which have disappeared from the scene would have been followed by an attempt to re-plant these on Saturday. This would involve 111 varieties, including four unusual rose varieties from the national rose collection. But Wageningen UR has thrown a spanner in the works.
'The Executive Board has clearly rejected our proposal', says spokesman Frank Zegers. Even worse, the police will be after Zegers if the planting goes ahead. 'The Executive Board has informed us that they will not tolerate any encroachment onto its property, and it would exercise its rights, destroy the plants, and claim damages.' This hard line was last week re-affirmed by Wageningen UR spokesman Simon Vink to Zegers during a meeting.
Zegers has therefore cancelled the re-planting. Instead, he and his group (which includes Platform de Dreijen and special interest group Ecowijk de Dreijen) intend to buy a piece of the botanic garden. This is that part outside the fences of Het Depot: the ponds, rose garden and system garden. Zegers says that Wageningen UR intends to give this area up. 'We will remove what's in it and sell it, Vink tells us.'
It is not known how much money Zegers would have to come up with. 'We are going to look into that.' The viewing day will give an indication of the enthusiasm of the Wageningen population. 'I think that we in Wageningen can really support such a garden. I also think that it would be advantageous for the municipality if we buy it. The Wagenigen executive council has indicated in its programme that the botanical garden should remain free of buildings.'
During the viewing day on Saturday 18 September, excursions will be held in the Small Arboretum at 12.30, 13.30 and 14.30 hours. Specialists will show off the garden's special collections and its natural values.