The Battle of Winfrey Point is an Opportunity for the Dallas Arboretum to Prove it Likes Plants

Hey, Dallas Arboretum: Do you really not see how this is shaping up? You have one of two things staring you in the face. A great opportunity. Or a well-deserved black eye.

You are in court this very moment, hauled there by citizens trying to stop your plans to decimate a rare patch of virgin blackland prairie at Winfrey Point near White Rock Lake by using it as an overflow parking lot for yet another of your big-big, fake-looking, Yellow Brick Road plant shows.

The crowds you draw are so huge you probably can't even see around them to the even bigger crowds of people who save a hundred bucks and stay away. I will get in major trouble at my house for saying this -- I live with one of your greatest fans -- but I try to be in the stay-away crowd whenever I can get away with it. Because the Dallas Arboretum, for me, has nothing to do with plants, flowers or gardens.

It's all outdoor super-luxe decoration -- a show-offy Park Cities estate on steroids and meth. When I do get dragged there to do a Bataan-march through the endless banks of screaming colors, I look around and think, "Wow, you can really do a lot if you're willing to salt the earth with chemicals."

It turns me off. I look at all that weirdly over-blown growth and remember experiments I read about years ago where they dosed plants with Thalidomide. The colors always make me expect to turn a corner and encounter a chorus of Munchkins emerging from beneath huge plastic petals.

Like I say, I am out-voted on this big-time at home and usually bite my tongue. But, Arbo, this plan of yours to kill an enormously rare and valuable natural asset just so you can book more tickets is going to be all the proof anybody ever needed.

Press ahead with this, and I promise that your profile in the community is going to take on a decidedly nasty edge. That's no threat from me. I suspect I will have to go back to tongue-biting for a long time after this little ditty hits the pixels.

It's people. That's who you should be worried about. People know. People care. People out there are beginning to really understand plants, gardening and the natural life cycle. They know what you do is all Chem 101. Now it's like you want to hammer home the point.

Here's a chance to take another fork in the road, the one with a sign pointing to "Real Life." Think about it. The Emerald City was cool, but even Dorothy had to get back to Kansas after a while.

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Jim Schutze has been the city columnist for the Dallas Observer since 1998. He has been a recipient of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies’ national award for best commentary and Lincoln University’s national Unity Award for writing on civil rights and racial issues. In 2011 he was admitted to the Texas Institute of Letters.
Contact: Jim Schutze