News & Press

AHS moving in exciting new direction

 

October 20, 2020

Dear AHS Community,

Last month, the board of the American Horticultural Society shared with you that we were exploring the possibility of merging with the American Public Gardens Association (APGA). Our goal has been to look at a variety of possibilities and identify the best solution that would allow for the continuation of our national programming during very difficult financial circumstances for AHS. The solution has had to be proactive, deliberate, and dramatic in the face of the pandemic and its effects on our revenue streams.

We have greatly appreciated your outreach and input, which the AHS board has heard and taken to heart. The resounding sentiment has been that we are proud of AHS’s century long legacy and greatly desire to find a solution that allows our mission – and the AHS name – to live on in the future with an increased national presence.  Our mission demands that we seek opportunities which expand geographic accessibility and programs that resonate with diverse communities across the United States from Alaska to Florida and from Maine to Hawaii.

With that in mind, rather than moving forward with a merger with APGA, our board has committed to maintaining AHS as an independent national nonprofit with its own board, staff and headquarters. The board is now working diligently to further develop a sustainable business model that would allow AHS to streamline expenses and continue operating as an independent national nonprofit organization for the next 100 years. The charge is to develop a model that would allow the varied programming and resources that our members across the United States know and enjoy to continue while adding new programming to keep AHS relevant and help it make a connection between people and plants. As part of this new model, we are focused on building collaborative relationships with APGA and other like-minded organizations who have a shared interest in building and expanding horticultural programming and other initiatives across the country.

In order to move forward with this renewed vision, we are dependent on the proceeds from the sale of River Farm. These funds would create a significant endowment that has been the missing link in our financial viability. Our hope is to find a buyer – a new steward – for River Farm who will work to preserve this beautiful and historic property.

Thank you for your past support which has been invaluable to AHS.  Your continued support and input is important and graciously received as we move in this exciting new direction.

Warmly,

 

 

 

 

Terry Hayes, Board Chair
American Horticultural Society

News & Press

River Farm Grounds Reopening To the Public on 6/8/20

The grounds of the American Horticultural Society’s River Farm headquarters in Alexandria will reopen to the public on Monday, June 8, 2020.  Starting then the property will be open from 9 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday until further notice. The grounds will be closed on weekends. 

Please note that for safety reasons, all indoor facilities–including restrooms and water fountains–are closed, as is our Children’s Garden. While we are pleased to once again be able to share the natural beauty of our gardens, we ask that all visitors share in the responsibility of protecting each other’s safety by practicing appropriate social distancing guidelines.  

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 rentals@ahsgardening.org.

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

AHS’s River Farm Launches Spring Educational Workshop Series

The American Horticultural Society’s (AHS) Programs department has unveiled a series of educational workshops taking place at our national nonprofit’s River Farm headquarters in Alexandria, Va. this spring. The first two workshops — to be held this month — have already sold out; however, you can add your name to a waiting list by sending your contact information to education@ahsgardening.org.

March 7: “Ceramic Garden Marker Workshop” with Persimmon Street Ceramics (wait list only)

March 28: “Gardening for Pollinators Workshop” with AHS’s associate director for horticulture and River Farm (wait list only)

April 4: “Kokedama Workshop” with FLORA Roots & Stems. Kokedama involves potting ornamental plants in a ball of moss for display in a dish or suspended in the air

April 25: “Introduction to Beekeeping Workshop” with the Northern Virginia Beekeepers Association

May 9: “Botanical Illustration Workshop” with artist and Huntley Meadows Park naturalist Margaret Wohler

All of these workshops — and details about pricing and registration — can be found on our AHS at River Farm Events Calendar.

 

News & Press

Restricted Public Access at AHS’s River Farm During Property Upgrades

The American Horticultural Society (AHS) has been making some much needed infrastructure improvements at its River Farm headquarters over the past few years to provide a better and safer visitor experience. We recently finished upgrading our 180-foot brick walkway on the river side of the manor house and are presently leveling and laying new brick at the Magnolia Terrace on the opposite side of the house. We’re excited to highlight these property improvements in coming months as we prepare for the spring growing season and the accompanying increase in visitors, garden tours, weddings, and other special events.

Our newest repair projects will require us to close off the formal gardens, including the Children’s Garden, during the week of Feb. 24-28. During that time, our aging and leaking underground water lines will be repaired, requiring the use of heavy machinery. For everyone’s safety and comfort, we will rope off those sections of the gardens and prevent public access. River Farm visitors may, however still freely stroll through the Meadow leading down to the Potomac.

Additionally, our manor house will continue to be open to the public for Rentals Office visits and art exhibition viewing from Feb. 24-26; however, we will close the manor house to the public from Feb. 27-28 for a private video shoot. The manor house will reopen to visitors on Mon., March 2.

News & Press

AHS’s River Farm Unveils Its Newest Upgrade: a Renovated Brick Walkway

Thanks to the generosity of donors, the national nonprofit American Horticultural Society’s (AHS) River Farm headquarters in Alexandria now has an upgraded 180-foot brick walkway connecting the River Farm manor house with the wedding allee in the formal gardens.

Since the 1970s, hundreds of couples have made their way down the brick walkway to the gardens to celebrate their wedding vows. Over the years, weather, age, and roots extending from nearby trees took their toll on the bricks, prompting AHS’s decision to replace them after the 2019 wedding season. The renovation project was completed in February 2020.

Since 2018, the entire outdoor event space at River Farm has been upgraded with new walkways, a releveled stone patio, and a brand new canopy tent with billowy tent liner, removable sides, palladium windows, crystal chandeliers, fans, and perimeter bistro lighting.  The event tent is erected in-season over the stone patio adjacent to the manor house and the outside entrance to the ballroom. 

The renovation projects were undertaken to enhance guest comfort and safety.

“We’re thrilled to have a beautiful new walkway with Potomac River views for our soon-to-be-married couples, guests at special events, and the general public visiting River Farm,” said AHS’s director of development and engagement Susan Klejst. “As a 501(c)(3) organization, AHS relies on philanthropic support to maintain its historic buildings and grounds here in the Mount Vernon district of Fairfax County, so we deeply appreciate the public’s generous contributions.”

AHS’s River Farm facility can be rented for weddings and other special occasions, meetings and retreats, workshops, and children’s birthday parties in the Children’s Garden. AHS’s horticultural staff also offers guided tours of the property for school classes, gardens clubs, and other interested groups.

Renovation Process in Pictures:

News & Press

AHS Promotes Soil Sustainability at River Farm Headquarters

In line with its focus on sustainable gardening, the American Horticultural Society (AHS) is employing Earth-friendly gardening practices at its River Farm headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia.

This winter, AHS’s horticultural team is applying Bloom — a locally produced sustainable soil amendment that enhances soil and plant health — as a soil building material and top dressing for River Farm’s gardens, including the Certified Wildlife Garden, children’s garden, shade garden, and beds containing various annual and perennial plants. Bloom is designed to add organic material to soil, increasing its water retention capacity and slowly releasing nitrogen and micro-nutrients back into the soil.

“There are many excellent soil amendments available to gardeners, including homemade compost and mass-produced commercial products,” noted AHS’s associate director for horticulture and River Farm, Dan Scott. “At the American Horticultural Society’s River Farm, we produce our own compost from material collected onsite, but the volume isn’t great enough to fulfill all our needs. Bloom is an ideal supplement,” he added.

This year, AHS’s River Farm is expanding its on-site composting capability with the addition of a three-bin compost system to its nearly completed Teaching Garden. The Teaching Garden also features a keyhole garden built around a compost bin whose contents will provide nutrients to the vegetables grown there.

News & Press

AHS Looking for Volunteers at River Farm

Want to meet some new people, enhance your wellness, and help out in a beautiful setting in gardens along the Potomac? We have some volunteer opportunities for you at River Farm!

1) Just us for a one-day effort to build a pollinator flower garden in River Farm’s future Teaching Garden. This will take place during our National Honey Bee Day Celebration on  Saturday, August 17 from 9-12. Refreshments will be provided.

2) We’re forming a new volunteer group to perform various gardening, administrative, and maintenance tasks on Tuesdays from 9-noon. For more information or to sign up, contact Matt Pruett at mpruett@ahsgardening.org.

3) We’re looking for more volunteers to work in our Garden Shop. For more informaton or to sign up, contact volunteer@ahsgardening.org.

For a general overview of volunteer activities, visit our Volunteering page.