News & Press

Join Our Membership Month Challenge

May is Membership Month at the American Horticultural Society (AHS), and all month long we’re recognizing friends like you for all you do to help promote sustainable gardening and build a community of responsible caretakers of the Earth.

During Membership Month, we’ve set a goal of expanding our AHS family by 100 members by May 31 to bring our programs and resources to more people across the country. To show our gratitude, when you join AHS in May 2020 with a donation of $25 or more—a savings of $10 off the regular membership rate—we’ll send you a FREE reusable, foil-insulated lunch bag!

You’ll also receive all the benefits of membership, including a free subscription to The American Gardener magazine, seed and plant discounts, book discounts, and more.

Support our Membership Month Challenge by joining today! 

News & Press

Five Tips for Buying Great Gardening Gloves

For many years, I preferred doing gardening tasks barehanded. Not only did I enjoy the feeling of getting my “hands in the dirt,” but I often found that working with gloves reduced my ability to handle small, delicate plants with care.  As I’ve gotten older, and the daily wear and tear takes more of a toll on my hands, I prefer to work with gloves, albeit the thinnest gloves possible. 

Here are five tips on buying garden gloves based on my personal experience:

  1. Invest in a variety of gloves. You’ll want to own both thick and thin gloves, depending on the nature of the work you’re performing. Thin gloves are affordable and great for quick tasks like carrying bags of soil, while thicker gloves hold up nicely for a day of working in the garden and can be worn under other work gloves when the soil is cold and wet.
  2. Select gloves with nitrile coating. I like nylon-knit gloves with the palm and fingers dipped in nitrile coating since it makes them waterproof and puncture resistant.
  3. Purchase gloves in bulk packs. Hand protection only works when you wear it, and it doesn’t do you any good if your sole set of gardening gloves is wet or in the laundry. Bulk packs ensure you have enough pairs on hand and provide better value as well.
  4. Minimize use of disposable gloves. For sustainability purposes, it’s best to avoid disposables. I try not to use them for routine tasks.
  5. Reserve heavy leather gloves for heavy-duty activities. Thick gloves tend to make my hands cramp up, so I only use them for tasks like moving stones.


Dan Scott is the Associate Director for Horticulture & River Farm at the American Horticultural Society.

News & Press

AHS Update on Public Visitation Hours at River Farm Headquarters

As a safety measure based on recent COVID-19 developments, the American Horticultural Society’s River Farm will be closed to the general public until further notice. The manor house will remain open for previously scheduled meetings. If you have related questions, please contact our Rentals office at 703/768-5700, x114 or

In the meantime, we would be grateful for any contributions you can make to the American Horticultural Society, which owns and maintains River Farm, and which has lost substantial revenue from cancelled events and programs. Your support will help River Farm reopen as strong and vibrant as ever, once it is safe to do so. Thank you for donating now.

News & Press

11 Sustainable Gardening Hacks for Your Home Garden

If you’re part of the new wave of home or apartment dwellers looking for resources on starting an edible garden, you’re not alone. While the American Horticultural Society encourages supporting local garden centers, there are lots of ways you can start a garden without buying special materials. Here are some of our favorite sustainable gardening hacks using readily available items.

Seed Starting

  1. Save your citrus rinds and eggshells. Thoroughly cleaned of citrus pulp and egg whites, nature’s cups make great tiny pots.
  2. Another option is to use cardboard egg cartons, toilet paper rolls, or paper towel rolls as mini vessels. If the plants’ roots are growing through or out of the cardboard at the time of transplant, just put the whole thing in the ground. If not, soak the cardboard to remove it before transplanting the plant. Small plastic containers such as K-cups or yogurt cups can also be given a second life as seed starting vehicles, but when transferring seedlings to your garden bed, be sure to remove them from the cups.
  3. With a little extra work, newspaper and junk mail can also be crafted into little pots.

Garden Bed Construction

  1. For traditional gardens, create a nutrient-rich base layer by collecting yard waste like grass clippings and raked leaves. Scout for bags of leaves left out by the curb!
  2. If using a planter or container with a large hole at the bottom, cover the hole with a coffee filter and elevate it about ½” off the ground with a small piece of wood. This will allow drainage while keeping soil intact and preventing staining of hardscapes.
  3. Looking to create a raised bed garden or portable garden boxes? Try using wine crates, old wooden soda crates, plastic bulb crates lined with cardboard, or other topless wooden crates. Just make sure they have proper drainage.

Soil Enhancement

  1. Determine what nutrients your soil needs via a soil test. Test kits are often available through your county extension office, but you can perform a simple pH test with vinegar and baking soda.
  2. If you don’t compost at home, applying certain kitchen scraps directly to your soil will help boost nutrients. Eggshells contain calcium; coffee grounds are a great source of nitrogen; and banana peels provide potassium.

Garden Watering

  1. Water plants evenly (e.g., from a watering can instead of a cup). Create a DIY watering can by making small holes in the top of a juice, milk, or detergent jug.
  2. If you’re unable to water regularly, create a slow release watering system from wine bottles and insert them in damp soil.
  3. After cooking eggs or vegetables, don’t pour the water down the drain. Some nutrients from these cooked foods will leech into the water and can be used to feed plants.

News & Press

New AHS Member Benefit: 30% Discount off Gardening Books

Thanks to Princeton University Press, we’re able to offer members of the American Horticultural Society (AHS) a new benefit that’s ideal for garden planning and planting season.

Effective immediately, AHS members receive a 30% discount off all gardening books from the publisher. This includes The Gardener’s Botanical: An Encyclopedia of Latin Plant Names, written by horticulturist Ross Bayton and published in February 2020. Other discounted books include ones focused on pollinator gardening and wildflowers, among other topics.

To take advantage of this new member benefit, AHS members can log in to the member portal and access the discount code. Non-members can join the AHS to start enjoying member benefits!

News & Press

Renowned Horticulturist Holly Shimizu Shares Why You Should Join AHS

Whether you remember her as a host of “The Victory Garden” show on PBS, as the first curator of the U.S. National Arboretum’s National Herb Garden, or as the longtime Executive Director of the U.S. Botanic Garden, Holly Shimizu is a legend in the horticulture world. She also is a 2020 winner of the prestigious Scott Medal and Award from The Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College, and a Board Member of the American Horticultural Society (AHS).

See why Holly thinks you too should join the AHS, then join now for a limited-time $10 discount!

News & Press

Spring2ACTion Today Through April 15 for AHS’s River Farm

Friday, April 3 kicks off Early Giving for ACT of Alexandria’s annual Spring2ACTion online giving day for non-profits. 

The American Horticultural Society (AHS) at River Farm is participating again this year, and this time around, our need for donations is even stronger. Due to the COVID-19-related temporary closure of our manor house, grounds, and gardens, we have lost substantial revenue from cancelled property rentals, programming, workshops, and events. The AHS is self-funded, does not receive government support, and is not endowed; thus, we’re dependent on the generosity of people like you who support our sustainable gardening mission and appreciate the educational outreach, programs, and resources we provide, including at our beautiful and historic River Farm headquarters. 

Your contribution between now and April 15 (Giving Day) to our Spring2ACTion fundraiser will help ensure a continued sustainable future for us. Many thanks for your support!

News & Press

AHS Environmental Award Winners Named at Several Flower Shows

The American Horticultural Society’s (AHS) associate director for horticulture Dan Scott and AHS board member Amy Bolton attended The Philadelphia Flower Show in late February 2020 to select the winner of the AHS Environmental Award, which recognizes horticultural excellence best demonstrating the bond between horticulture and environmental impact.

The winning exhibit was “The Olfactory Pathway” by Refugia of Narberth, PA. Refugia’s designs focus on native and edible plantings to create landscapes that are both beautiful and ecologically functional.

Other winners of AHS Environmental Awards to date include:

* “Orca Recovery Garden” by NW Bloom Ecological Services and the King Conservation District at the Northwest Flower and Garden Festival in Seattle

* “A Collaborative Garden with International Landscaping and Design and the American Landscape Institute students” at the Maryland Home & Garden Show in Baltimore

* “Between Every Two Pines Is a Doorway to a New World” by Plant Man LLC at the Southern Spring Home + Garden Show in Charlotte, N.C.

* Earth Tones Native Plant Nursery’s 18th century abandoned mine in New England, which now is home to bats and a regrown forest with wildlife. The exhibit was featured at the Connecticut Flower & Garden Show in Hartford, Conn.

Learn more about the AHS Environmental Awards.

News & Press

Explore Lush Gardens Across the Country Via RAP Garden Virtual Tours

Want to tour a botanic garden or arboretum in your neck of the woods or across the country without setting foot out of your home? Now you can, thanks to the virtual tours developed by many of our 330+ Reciprocal Admissions Program gardens.

Following are several gardens offering virtual tours. Did we miss one? Let us know by contacting, and we’ll add it to the list!

Atlanta Botanical Garden: Lou Glenn Children’s Garden Tour

Birmingham Botanical Gardens: Spring Highlights and Japanese Garden

Botanic Garden of Smith College (Northampton, Mass.): TreeSpeak Tour

Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens (Buffalo, N.Y.): A Glance at the Gardens

Cape Fear Botanical Garden (Fayetteville, N.C.): Virtual Tour of the Garden

Cheekwood Estate & Gardens (Nashville, Tenn.): Cheekwood in Bloom 2020

Chicago Botanic Garden: Virtual Tour of Summer

Conservatory of Flowers (San Francisco): Conservatory of Flowers Virtual Tour 

Cranbrook House & Gardens (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.): Virtual Tour

Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden: Virtual Garden Tours

Descanso Gardens (La Canada Flintridge, Calif.): Descanso Digital Tours

Hatcher Garden (Spartanburg, S.C.): Virtual Tour

Heritage Museums & Gardens (Sandwich, Mass.): Virtual Collections 

Huntsville Botanical Garden (Huntsville, Ala.): Virtual Garden Tour

Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens (Richmond, Va.): A Virtual Visit

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens (Sarasota, Fla.): Bringing Selby Gardens to You

Missouri Botanical Garden (St. Louis, Mo.): Virtual Garden Tour 

Museum of the Shenendoah Valley (Winchester, Va.): Virtual Garden Tour

Newfields Horticultural Society (Indianapolis, Ind.): Virtual Tour of the Gardens at Newfields

New York Botanical Garden (The Bronx, N.Y.): Read & Watch

Reiman Gardens (Ames, Iowa): Reiman Early Spring Flowers

State Botanical Garden of Georgia (Athens, Ga.): Virtual Tour of the Garden 

Tower Hill Botanic Garden (Boylston, Mass.): Daffodil Fields and Signs of Spring 

Tudor Place (Washington, D.C.): Virtual House Tour

U.S. Botanic Garden (Washington, D.C.): Google Map Tour

U.S. National Arboretum (Washington, D.C.): Spring at the National Arboretum

Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark (Dayton, Ohio): Google Map Tour 

Wilson Botanical Gardens (Wilson, N.C.): The Children’s Secret Garden

News & Press

Six Ways to Virtually Connect With AHS’s RAP Gardens

Visiting public gardens is enjoyable at any time of the year but can be an especially magical event in the spring when blooms are bursting, and gardens are awash with color. While the coronavirus has shuttered the gates of most public gardens and arboreta, that doesn’t mean you can’t engage with them. In fact, many of the American Horticultural Society’s (AHS) 330+ Reciprocal Admissions Program gardens offer a variety of opportunities for remote experiences. Here are some ideas for experiencing RAP gardens while sheltering in place — or taking a break from work from home (WFH) — depending on your visitor personality.


1. For Casual Tourists: Do you enjoy visiting gardens to see what’s new or newly in bloom? Selby Gardens Dali exhibitThe Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens offers a virtual tour. The United States Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C. and Dayton, Ohio’s Cox Arboretum offer Google tours that allow you to take a virtual stroll, or scroll, through the gardens. Watch short clips from Marie Selby Gardens (Sarasota, Fla.) about their new Salvador Dali exhibit, “Gardens of the Mind,” which highlights the artist’s use of botanical imagery alongside a surreal display of tropical plants.

2. For In-Depth Scholars: For those who prefer a guided garden tour or enjoy reading interpretive signage, Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago offers a digital tour on Art and Architecture and one entitled Golden Hour, which celebrates its 2020 Spring Flower Show. Denver Botanic Gardens has several digital tours of their gardens and collections (from dye plants to palms), or you can create your own tour by selecting plants and garden features.

3. For Contemplative Types: Some gardens serve as a respite from the daily grind — a place for wandering, meditating, and contemplating. Enjoy a moment of Zen with the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, Va. via drone footage of its cherry blossoms (see embedded YouTube clip below). Combine your contemplative practice with creativity via a downloadable coloring page (it’s not just for kids!) from the plant collections of The New York Botanical Garden or Denver Botanic Gardens. Post a pic of your masterpiece to Twitter using the hashtag #ColorOurCollections.

4. For Newbies to WFH: River Farm spring 2020Do you need a diversion from your new WFH situation? Check in on Mr. President and The First Lady – the bald eagles at the U.S. National Arboretum — via webcam feed or check out the arboretum’s blooms on Flickr. Phoenix, Arizona’s Desert Botanical Garden, Washington State’s Bellevue Botanical Garden, and many other gardens – including the American Horticultural Society’s River Farm — post beautiful botanical images to the Flickr community.

5. For Hands-On Learners: Were you registered for a workshop at your local garden, but it got cancelled? Online help is here! The Missouri Botanical Garden has a wealth of visual guides, including ones like “Propagating Plants by Cuttings,” “Renovating an Indoor Houseplant,” and “Starting Plants From Seed Indoors.” Craving a more creative outlet? Construct a green-roofed birdhouse with instructions from Smithsonian Gardens.

6. For Volunteers: Is volunteering for your local garden part of your routine (or do you suddenly have additional time in your daily schedule)? For those of you who want to engage in a productive way, consider a virtual volunteering gig. The New York Botanical Garden is crowdsourcing a volunteer effort to transcribe the papers of Dr. John Torrey, a preeminent 19th century American botanist. Or join the cadres of citizen scientists — individuals that participate in scientific data-collection projects. The Chicago Botanic Garden’s Budburst is one such project that calls on citizen scientists to make careful observations of the timing of plant life cycle events.