News & Press

Celebrating Black History Month in Horticulture


Throughout the centuries, Black Americans have elevated the field of horticulture, making discoveries and revolutionizing gardening practices. This Black History Month, we celebrate all Black horticulturists making a difference and paving the way for future gardeners. While there are too many impactful changemakers to recognize, we have chosen a few key figures to highlight. By lifting the voices of these select gardeners, we hope to foster a culture that invites all Americans to garden to ensure a thriving and beautiful world for current and future generations.

Historical Figures

Many historical figures helped shape the field of horticulture, furthering study in botany, agriculture, and plant science. Marie Clark Taylor, the first woman to obtain her scientific doctoral degree and the first African American woman to gain her Ph.D. in botany from Fordham University in 1941, eventually became a professor at her alma mater, Howard University in Washington, D.C., one of many Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) across the country.

Another important figure who shaped the field of horticulture in the 20th century was Booker T. Whatley, a Black horticulturist and agriculture professor at the historic Tuskegee University in Alabama. As an advocate for sustainable gardening practices and biodiversity in gardening, he encouraged African American farmers to adopt regenerative farming techniques in the 1960s and 1970s. He pioneered what would eventually become the modern crop share, having members pay for a season’s worth of crops in advance. In the mid-1980s, he published a book called How to Make $100,000 Farming 25 Acres, which helped disadvantaged farmers make the most of their land. His impact on the field of horticulture resounds even today.


One group that is currently gaining traction in the public eye is “plantfluencers,” influencers who create content about gardening and houseplants. In the most recent edition of The American Gardener, writer Georgia Silvera Seamans featured three Black influencers who are prominent players in the houseplant social media sphere:

Kamili Bell Hill (@plantblerd) from New Rochelle, New York started her career as a lawyer, but now has published a book on gardening and indoor houseplants called Happy Plants, Happy You. She sees cultivating plants as a vehicle for self-love and anti-racism.

Plant biologist specializing in ethnobotany, Derek Haynes (@thechocolatebotanist) serves as a board member for The North Carolina Botanical Garden Foundation in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He creates content tying together his identity as a Black man with his love for plants.

Stephanie Horton (@botanicalblackgirl) grew up in a plant-loving family in St. Louis, Missouri, but now lives and grows in Huntsville, Alabama. She has worked with HBCUs such as Alabama A&M to revitalize their agricultural programs and interdisciplinary career opportunities to further involve Black people in horticulture. She also produces events at a plant shop to “broaden the houseplant community.”


Many nonprofits champion education and sustainability while working to increase food security for underserved communities. One organization is Soul Fire Farm, a Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC)-focused organization using ancestral and sustainable methods to farm land in Grafton, New York. By championing farming methods that work in harmony with the earth, Soul Fire Farm, founded by Leah Penniman and Jonah Vitale-Wolff, is striving to achieve its mission to end racism in the food system and foster a more inclusive culture that recognizes the value of caring for our planet and working to leave the land better off than they found it.

Black Garden History

If you are interested in learning more about the role of the Black community in gardening throughout history, join us for a Lifelong Learning Session with Abra Lee on February 2 at 2:00 p.m. ET when she will talk about “Black Garden History: A Great American Road Trip.” In this session, Lee will highlight historic and influential figures in Black garden history. Lee is an American public horticulturist, historian, and writer who currently serves as the Director of Horticulture at Historic Oakland Foundation in Atlanta. You can register for the program here.

Clearly, the role African Americans have played in shaping horticulture cannot be understated. Many important discoveries and innovations would not exist without the hard work of Black gardeners, and we are thankful for their contributions every day. We are happy to honor and recognize important figures in the field for Black History Month, but also recognize that these figures should be celebrated year-round. We hope to see even more diverse voices amplified in the field for years to come.

News & Press

Celebrate Peace this Martin Luther King Jr. Day

This year, we celebrate the rich legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on January 15. His activism and philosophy are rooted in unity and connection of all people regardless of their background. We are inspired by the repercussions of his actions and their reverberations that we still feel today, more than 50 years after his passing. 

In his 1967 speech “Where do we go from here?” delivered at a meeting of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization founded by Dr. King, he stated “The plant of freedom has grown only a bud and not yet a flower.” His words still ring true today, even with the massive strides we have made towards equality for all Americans. There is always more we can do to support our fellow Americans, and we aim to foster a culture of gardening that emphasizes and strengthens the power of our communities nationwide. 

In the spirit of Dr. King’s legacy of peaceful protest, International World Peace Rose Gardens planted a rose garden in 1992 at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Park located in Atlanta, Georgia. There are four other rose gardens created by this inspirational organization spread across the globe to encourage peace among all global citizens. The garden in Atlanta is especially notable because the rose is the national flower of the United States. The site combines the beauty of King’s imagined future with the notion of the American Dream and shows us that all people can enjoy liberation through engagement with the natural world. 

As unrest and inequality continue to plague society, it is important to focus on unity and our shared humanity. Actions like gardening bring beauty to the world, and our admiration of all nature has to offer can be a unifying force to spark change. Community gardens proliferate around the country and gardening programs are popular in schools. Clearly, gardening brings people together time and time again. By reflecting on and living by Dr. King’s philosophy, together we can make the bud of freedom bloom into something more beautiful than we could have ever imagined. 

News & Press

50 Year Celebrations Continue with River Farm Anniversary Picnic on August 24

The American Horticultural Society will celebrate 50 golden years at its beloved River Farm headquarters with the River Farm Anniversary Picnic featuring live music from the band, Soulfire.  The community picnic will be held on Thursday, August 24, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., and is FREE and open to the public.  

Guests are encouraged to pack a blanket and picnic basket with food and beverage favorites and find a comfortable spot on River Farm’s welcoming lawn where relaxing will never be easier. As the sun lowers on the historical property, you will enjoy the music, stunning gardens, and spectacular views overlooking the Potomac River.  

Register Now on Eventbrite! 

While River Farm is most widely known as part of George Washington’s farmland, its exciting, memorable history with the AHS is truly one for the books. 50 years ago, a generous philanthropist, Enid Haupt, donated the purchase price of River Farm to the AHS. This gift saved River Farm from being sold to Russian diplomats during the Cold War of the 70’s and ensured River Farm as the home to the AHS in perpetuity. In 2020, River Farm once again was saved from being sold thanks to the rallying cries of the community and the terms of Haupt’s agreement. The River Farm Anniversary Picnic celebrates these joyous occasions, all the memories in between, and the future of River Farm as a local and national treasure.   

Save the Date! In addition to the Anniversary Picnic, the AHS is celebrating its 50th golden anniversary at River Farm at its annual gala. This year’s theme, Simple Pleasures of the Garden, features renowned interior and garden designer Charlotte Moss. The event will be held on September 23, 2023. Details and tickets can be found at More exciting details coming soon! 



News & Press

This week is National Pollinator Week!

Happy National Pollinator Week! (June 19-25)

Supporting a natural ecosystem is something that home gardeners can do to combat loss of plant and animal species, from planting for pollinators, to getting to know your insect friends and foes, to creating bird-friendly winter gardens.

Last year, we compiled a variety of how-to articles about attracting pollinators, distinguishing beneficial insects from garden pests, and creating wildlife habitats for you from past issues of our bimonthly member magazine, The American Gardener. Check out our pollinator resources and find out how you can support the environment within your own garden!

Celebrate National Pollinator Week by making your garden welcome to a diversity of pollinators— and help create a healthier, more bountiful community for all. For additional ideas and a list of Pollinator Week activities near you, visit

News & Press

Celebrate National Rose Month

June is National Rose Month!

Roses have a long history of symbolism from love, peace, beauty, and the United States— In 1986, President Ronald Reagan signed a resolution making the rose the national flower of the United States of America. Full of fragrance and delicate petals, roses are some of the most versatile and classical garden plants.

Although they require careful planting and pruning, many variations of roses are not as hard to care for as some may think. Shrub and ground-cover bush roses are becoming more popular with gardeners around the country looking for a splash of fragrance in their home or garden. Ground-cover roses, often referred to as “carpet roses” are a lower maintenance rose option for those looking for the beauty of the rose without the higher effort upkeep.

You can read more about different types of roses at the National Rose Society’s website, and visit the Reciprocal Admissions Program (RAP) Garden: American Rose Society & Gardens of the American Rose Center in Shreveport, Louisiana.

News & Press

Attend Regional Gardening Events this Spring/Summer

Did you know that the AHS provides a widespread listing of gardening events near you? Enjoy premier food, wine and craft beer at the UC Riverside Botanic Gardens’ fundraiser, Primavera in the Gardens on May 21 in Riverside, CA. Stop by the Iris Show at Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids, MI in June. Attend a class on “Creating Habitat for Butterflies” at the Tanger Arboretum in Lancaster, PA. on July 29. These are just a few examples of gardening events to explore!  

This year, get involved at a garden near you, learn something new, meet new people, and find joy in gardens and gardening! Visit the Regional Events page on our website for a complete listing.

News & Press

Meet Mercedes Bryant – AHS’s new Director of Travel Studies

Drum roll, please, as we introduce our new Director of Travel Studies, Mercedes Bryant, an educational travel professional specializing in experiential learning, citizen science, regenerative travel, and cultural exchange. She brings a wealth of experience having studied and worked in France for six years, taking the opportunity to explore far and wide throughout Europe. She then managed the travel programs at the Smithsonian Institution and National Geographic. We are excited for her to bring her love for creating immersive educational adventures to our AHS members! 

News & Press

AHS in the News!

Learn more about our President and CEO, Suzanne Laporte, in The Washington Gardener. In a two-page profile, Suzanne talks about her past, present and future and her connection with the AHS and River Farm. Embracing the organization’s synergy and growth, she stated, “Right now, our goal is to engage more people with AHS and with gardening. To do that, we are planning new programs. We’ll be increasing gardening resources and the ways we deliver them.” Read the full article here.

AHS and River Farm were put in the spotlight in USA Today’s special edition of Go Escape the Northeast. Highlighting gardens in the Northeast, the story’s introduction leads with information about the AHS’s dynamic Reciprocal Admissions Program of 345 partner gardens across the country and River Farm, the precious historic headquarters of the AHS. Read the full story here.  

News & Press

Deadlines Approaching for NCYGS Early Bird Registration and Scholarships

Join us at the National Children & Youth Garden Symposium, July 12-15 in Knoxville, Tennessee, for an invigorating and educational experience where you will connect with gardening educators from around the country and learn new ways to bring the joys of gardening into your classrooms and communities. The 31st Annual Symposium, hosted by the University of Tennessee and UT Gardens – Knoxville, will feature 30 engaging sessions, eight field experiences, and limitless bonding amongst like-minded peers.  

We are thrilled to be able to offer scholarships to defray the cost to attend, thanks to the generosity of Ball Horticultural Company and the University of Tennessee. There are three scholarship categories based on demonstrated financial need, commitment to children’s and youth gardening initiatives, and work with underserved and/or Title I populations.  


Photo Credit: Jonah Brown

  • Ball Horticultural Scholarship Fund – open to those who self-identify as Black, Indigenous and/or as a Person of Color 
  • University of Tennessee Scholarships – open to Tennessee residents and UT students 
  • National Children & Youth Garden Symposium Scholarships – open to all
    symposium attendees. 

Important Dates:
May 12 – Deadline for Early Bird Registration.
May 27 – Deadline for Scholarships.
June 10 – Deadline for Hotel Group Discount Online Reservations.
June 28 – Deadline for Online Registration.

We hope you join us for the 2023 NCYGS, one of the country’s longest-running, most prestigious gardening conferences for youth educators.  Leveraging a proven train-the-trainer model, the Symposium has cultivated thousands of educators across the country who return to their communities inspired, invigorated, and motivated to educate a new generation about the importance of gardening. 

News & Press

Look No Further than the Winners of AHS Book Awards

Celebrate great gardening literature by reading the winners of the 2023 AHS Book Awards! Each year, we honor garden-related books published in North America who excel in writing style, authority, accuracy, appearance, and overall quality. The award is presented jointly to both the author and publisher.  

Meet the 2023 winners!  

  • 100 Plants to Feed the Birds by Laura Erickson (Storey Publishing) 
  • American Wildflowers: A Literary Field Guide edited by Susan Barba (Abrams) 
  • A Gardener’s Guide to Botany by Scott Zona (Cool Spring Press) 

Learn more.