News & Press
News & Press
News & Press
The “50 State Flower Garden” project
As part of the American Horticultural Society’s Centennial Celebration this year, we are partnering to highlight 100 flower farms in the United States that are modernizing and expanding the notion of “state flowers” with beauty and inspiration.
Over the past two years, more than 20 million people have turned to gardening as a way to enjoy nature and improve their home environment. Studies reveal that more younger people are choosing to make a living as flower farmers and focusing their efforts on biodiversity and eco-friendly innovations.
Collectively this means that it’s time to examine flower farming, circa 2022, and share the stories of the people and places making a difference in one of the nation’s most important agricultural sectors.
- Our media partner, Flower Power Daily, will be leading the efforts in determining the 100 Best Flower Farms in the United States for 2022, and we plan to fill these pages with input from citizens like you from around the nation, people in rural areas and urban centers, folks who are gardening aficionados and others who love to visit flower farms in towns all around the United States and share their favorite neighborhood flowers and memories.
- We will be sponsoring a photography contest – details coming soon – with beautiful flower farm pictures that you provide, but we also want to know what flowers remind you of your neighborhood growing up. What flowers are special to you? What flower farms are your favorite and why?
This will help our team select the 100 Best Flower Farms in the United States – a list that will continue to expand each year by showcasing new farms – as well as help our partners, candlemaker Gibson & Dehn create a “scent” for different states, and master porcelain maker Anna Weatherley craft a special place setting for state flowers.
Also in the works are opportunities for landscape architects to share ideas to create a virtual “50-State Flower Garden” which incorporates not only the state flower with additional flowers that predominantly now grow in that state.
All these efforts will showcase talented flower farmers and their personal stories with you, as well as provide information about places to visit, flowers and plants to know, and people who inspire.
This will also be a place that will become a virtual garden with extraordinary and celebratory photography of flowers from around the nation.
Are you an AHS member? Please support this and other exciting AHS projects!
News & Press
LATEST NEWS: AHS Announces Appointment of Suzanne Laporte as the Society’s New President/CEO
RIVER FARM, VA, March 11, 2022 – Today, the Board of Directors of the American Horticultural Society (AHS), announced the appointment of Suzanne Laporte, the former CEO of Friends of Compass, Inc, a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit that provides pro bono, strategic consulting to other nonprofits, as the Society’s new CEO/President of AHS. As President & CEO of Compass, Laporte significantly increased Compass’ impact by innovating to meet the changing needs of nonprofits and the individuals and communities they serve. Laporte will focus on managing overall operations of the Society and will work collaboratively with the AHS Board and stakeholders to ensure a smooth transition to a forward-thinking organization positioned for growth and long-term success. With expertise in nonprofit leadership, program innovation, capacity building, strategic planning, financial management, team building and community engagement, communications, marketing, and Board governance, she is well-equipped to lead AHS at this critical juncture in the Society’s history.
Previously, Laporte held marketing positions for the consulting practices of PwC and IBM. In the publishing industry, Laporte was an editor at Working Woman magazine and a Marketing Director for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Her early career included stints at Smith Barney, Chase Manhattan Bank, and Capital Cities/ABC. She holds an AB from Smith College and an MBA from Harvard Business School, where she was editor of the weekly newspaper, The Harbus. In 2014, the Washington Business Journal recognized Suzanne with its “Women Who Mean Business” award. “We are delighted to welcome Suzanne to our AHS team,” said Marcia Zech, AHS Board Chair. “Suzanne brings a unique perspective and comprehensive approach to non-profit management that will help inform all of our work. In addition, she will be a key partner in our efforts to lay the necessary groundwork for carrying out our national horticultural mission,” noted Zech. “It’s truly an honor to join AHS during the Society’s 100th anniversary year,” Laporte said. “I look forward to working with the entire AHS team to help strengthen the organization to further its important work.”
The revitalization of River Farm as the home base for AHS’s national horticultural programs will also be a key focus for Laporte and the Board this year. Laporte will work closely with the Board’s River Farm Committee to identify long-term funding, planning and maintenance requirements for the property, including addressing the most pressing needs for repair and renovation of the buildings, grounds and gardens. A concurrent goal will be to explore options for maximizing programmatic opportunities to reach a broad national audience. “River Farm is a stunning place of natural beauty with immeasurable historical and cultural significance to our region and nation,” notes Laporte. “It is a place where AHS can literally ‘live the mission’ of honoring our nation’s horticultural history while positioning the organization as a leader in innovative gardening practices. I look forward to identifying creative ways to leverage this extraordinary asset in advancement of the AHS national mission while helping to protect the property for future generations,” she said.
Laporte will continue to build on the stewardship and transition achievements of former Director Keith Tomlinson, who helped AHS emerge from the challenges caused by the pandemic and addressed immediate operational needs, especially related to the re-opening of River Farm and the initial launch of garden clean-up and maintenance efforts. Tomlinson will continue to advise the AHS Board on horticultural matters in an informal, volunteer capacity, according to Board Chair Zech. “We are grateful to Keith for helping us during our transition period and look forward to further collaboration with him,” continued Zech. “Suzanne’s appointment as President/CEO, combined with the gardening expertise of our onsite team, including a group of exceptional volunteer gardeners, ensures that we have both the experienced executive leadership and horticultural knowledge to help chart a positive new course,” said Zech. “As we celebrate our 100th anniversary year in 2022, the Board believes that Suzanne is the right person at the right time to help us launch the next 100 years,” concluded Zech. Laporte begins her AHS duties on March 21, 2022.
About AHS: For 100 years, the American Horticultural Society (AHS) is committed to increasing knowledge among American gardeners, garden enthusiasts and professional horticulturists, inspiring a passion for plants and the Earth.
Media Contact: Brian Bauman
American Horticultural Society
News & Press
AHS and River Farm: Outlook for 2022
A Message from the AHS Board of Directors:
Greetings from River Farm! On this cold and snowy mid-winter day in early February, the view of the meadow down to the Potomac is truly spectacular, a picture-perfect display of winter splendor. A bald eagle took flight from its nest and floated majestically across the pale winter sky, adding a touch of excitement to the serene scene. The eagle stands as an important symbol of courage and strength for reaching great heights and achievements – and is always an inspiring sight to see at River Farm. As we celebrate our 100th anniversary year in 2022, highlighting 100 years of promoting American horticulture and 50 years stewarding River Farm, we take lessons from the garden in winter: appreciating the time to reflect and plan, planting ideas (as well as seeds and bulbs), clearing and pruning, caring for the grounds, the trees, the flowers – as always, looking to the verdant seasons ahead. The metaphor of the garden applies to many things in life, including our current organizational work – and we’re excited to share our progress and updates as well as the outlook for the year ahead.
The starting point – our mission and vision. The AHS governing principles to celebrate and promote American horticulture – which at 100 years have stood the test of time – are the foundation of our organization and guide all our work. As we launch our next 100 years, the time is ripe for re-invigorating our overarching vision and mission to ensure it reflects our members’ and stakeholders’ values and goals. First and foremost, our goal is to build upon our country’s rich horticultural legacy and common roots while creating a sustainable future focused on beauty, nature, and knowledge. Second (and equally important), is our commitment to protecting and sharing our headquarters – historic River Farm – as a national treasure and example of forward-looking American gardening. We are taking formal steps to embed these commitments in our governing doctrines and to include them in our refreshed vision and mission statements, to be finalized in the very near future.
At River Farm: the buildings, grounds, and gardens. The revitalization of River Farm as the home base for national horticultural programs is a key focus for us. It begins with an assessment and evaluation of the entire property, the establishment of priorities, and the creation of specific action plans. Recently, we re-instituted our River Farm Committee to identify long-term funding, planning, and maintenance requirements. As a starting point, the team will identify the most pressing needs for immediate repair and renovation. Once these projects are underway, the Committee will explore ideas for re-imagining and improving the gardens and grounds with the goal of creating a landscape that is befitting this idyllic property along the Potomac River. Already, we have seen extraordinary pledges of support and commitments from donors and garden volunteers who are excited about the possibilities.
Another key priority is identifying the best way to preserve and protect River Farm. Over the past few months, we have begun exploring options for ensuring that this historic landmark will remain a beautiful open space forever and continue as our AHS headquarters with access for public enjoyment, as intended by our original benefactor, Enid Annenberg Haupt. Specifically, we have had meetings with the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust and other land-use experts to discuss a range of opportunities for placing a possible conservation easement here. In addition, we’ve launched discussions about the requirements and timeline for creating an endowment fund that will help maintain River Farm and secure its long-term future. Finally, we are actively working with elected officials regarding securing potential public funds to be used to enhance public access at River Farm. Taken together, we are confident that these initiatives will achieve our goal of strengthening River Farm – and AHS – as important community (and national) assets.
AHS programs and projects. In addition to focusing on our signature programs and publications, including our bi-monthly magazine, the annual National Children and Youth Gardening Symposium, Travel Study program, and “Great American Gardeners Awards,” we are launching some exciting new programs in celebration of our 100th anniversary year. The “Conversations with Great American Gardeners” webinar series is a new online lecture series that features the nation’s most notable horticultural experts speaking on a broad range of topics of interest to home gardeners and specialists alike. See our website for more information on the schedule and how to listen. Also, the “50 State Flower Garden Project,” a nationwide initiative to celebrate both the diversity of American horticulture and our common roots by sharing the personal stories of horticulturists, farmers, and gardeners as well as their special insights and gardening tips will launch this month. Look for these inspiring stories on our website and social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. As part of the project, we are collaborating with our friends at Gibson & Dehn candles and the American Grown Flowers and Foliage organization to create bouquets that will first capture the spirit of a state in an ephemeral, visual way to be memorialized in a special state candle that captures the essence and fragrance of each state’s individual landscape. The project will culminate in a festive 100th-anniversary fundraising gala at River Farm next September, where state flowers and candles will be part of an exquisite tableau set against the spectacular backdrop of River Farm. Follow along on our AHS website and on @flowerpowerdaily starting later this month for additional news and updates as we launch this exciting project.
Our leadership vision. Now that we have augmented our Board with three talented new members and are working methodically to reconstitute a governing Board that will lead us successfully into our next 100 years, we are poised to achieve great things in the realms of horticulture, historic preservation, and land conservation. We are firmly committed to putting both professional management structures and horticultural leadership in place to achieve our ambitious goals on all of these fronts. As always, we are incredibly grateful for your generous support and look forward to collaborating with you on creating an exciting future for both AHS and River Farm. As we celebrate 100 years of American horticulture in 2022 and lay the groundwork for the next 100 years, we hope you will be part of all these efforts.
With all best wishes for a healthy, happy, and spectacular New Year, sincerely,
The AHS Board:
Marcia Zech, Chair
News & Press
View from the AHS
With Gratitude to Our Members and Donors
WHAT A PLEASURE it was for several of us to return to River Farm the other day to see the vast expanses of water and sky, trees, and meadows aglow in full autumn splendor. As we stood on the bluffs overlooking the Potomac River, we were struck by the quiet solitude and overwhelming beauty of this special place, along with its profound historical, cultural, and natural significance.
For so many of us, River Farm is a historic jewel and national treasure, a beloved property that has inspired generations of Americans who value its importance both as a symbolic link to our national heritage and as an idyllic slice of natural beauty and open space. For centuries, River Farm has stood the test of time, a testament to those who have cherished the land and their dedication in preserving it. Occasionally, threats have put the future of River Farm at risk. In 1971, the Soviet Embassy expressed interest in purchasing the property as an outpost for embassy staff. That development enraged the neighbors and the general public, who were upset at the idea of a foreign government owning such an important piece of American history. Through the visionary gift of philanthropist Enid Annenberg Haupt—who foresaw the risks of selling the property to the Russians and forever changing its trajectory—the American Horticultural Society has had the privilege of owning and stewarding River Farm, which we’ve done successfully for nearly 50 years. Her stipulations that we maintain it as AHS headquarters and as beautiful gardens for the public to enjoy in perpetuity have been our guiding light.
The events of the past year, including the fact that private developers funded by anonymous foreign investors were reportedly interested in purchasing River Farm, underscore the ongoing vulnerability of this priceless asset. Throughout the year-long debate over the future of River Farm, we always knew and believed that we could count on our members’ collective support and commitment to both historic preservation and land conservation—as well as on our shared conviction of keeping promises made to donors. We are overjoyed by the unprecedented outpouring of support in favor of preserving River Farm as our headquarters and for keeping it in the public trust forever. Going forward, together, we have the potential to expand and build on this success by implementing a new strategic vision that enhances River Farm while propelling AHS forward to achieve its full potential as a visionary leader in American horticulture for the next century and beyond.
So, on the heels of this important decision and on the eve of the Society’s 100th anniversary, the next chapter (and the work) begin. First and foremost, our priority is to strengthen our ability to carry out our horticultural mission, which includes the successful stewardship of River Farm as a platform for our national gardening programs. In addition, by rebuilding our Board of Directors with leaders from the non-profit and horticultural worlds, we aim to reinvigorate our programs with new opportunities for engaging our members. We are also committed to putting the long-term
conservation solutions in place to ensure that River Farm will always remain a pristine open space. To do that, we’ll need both endowment and operational funding and the support of all of our friends, members, and stakeholders who are committed to both preserving and protecting River Farm while ensuring AHS’s success over the next 100 years and beyond. In all of these efforts, we look forward to collaborating with you—our members and supporters—as well as working with partners in both the public and private sectors to chart this exciting new course for AHS. As we move forward with optimism and renewed purpose, we are grateful for your unswerving dedication and support. All of us here send our very best wishes for a joyous holiday season.
AHS Board members, Skipp Calvert, Tim Conlon, Laura Dowling, Holly Shimizu, Marcia Zech
News & Press
Message from AHS New Board Chair
Monday, November 1, 2021 was special for all of us at AHS and River Farm – the day we re-dedicated ourselves to stewarding this historic property, announced a new Director, opened River Farm back up to the public, committed to working with public officials and our stakeholders to protect River Farm in perpetuity and launched a fundraising initiative designed to build a bridge to AHS’s next 100 years. On a perfect fall day under an azure blue sky, set against the spectacular backdrop of beautiful River Farm, our Board of Directors gathered with AHS stakeholders and staff, Virginia elected officials, neighbors and the press to give everyone an update on all of these exciting developments. I am happy to share the key highlights with all of you.
First and foremost, the press event was an opportunity to thank our entire community for their support. Throughout the past year, when River Farm was under the very real threat of being sold for private development, the resulting outpouring of support from every single AHS stakeholder group was unprecedented. We’re convinced that the near-universal conviction that River Farm should remain as AHS headquarters and stay open to the public propelled us to achieve this wonderful outcome. On Monday, we heard heartfelt testimonials from the citizens’ groups and public officials who worked so diligently to keep River Farm as a spectacular natural space that future generations will continue to enjoy – and were able to acknowledge these key players for their efforts.
Towards that end, we are overjoyed to be able to welcome the public back to River Farm. After being closed for over a year, we’ve now opened our gates to our members and neighbors, to families and school children, to artists, to nature lovers – everyone who appreciates the incredible beauty of this unspoiled land with views that look very much the same as when George Washington purchased it as one of his original farms in 1760. When former AHS Board member and benefactor Enid Annenberg Haupt gave us $1 million that allowed AHS to purchase River Farm in 1973, her only stipulations were that the property would become AHS headquarters and be open to the public in perpetuity. We are very happy to continue to honor that promise and commitment.
A key highlight of the press event was the announcement of Keith Tomlinson as the new Director of AHS. Keith is renowned for both his horticultural accomplishments and his outstanding leadership skills. He brings an extraordinary wealth of professional and personal experience to the table that will help us navigate both the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. All of us here are delighted to welcome him to our team. Please see the press release announcing his appointment here: AHS Appoints New Director, Keith Tomlinson – American Horticultural Society.
Finally, it was an honor to announce in person the $1 million gift my husband Klaus and I are making to ensure that both AHS and River Farm are on a sound financial footing going forward. My hope is that this gift will be a bridge to our future efforts to secure long-term endowment funding for both our national gardening programs and the long-term maintenance and protection of River Farm – and that others will join us in these efforts. As a starting point, please check out our online auction of wonderful items with proceeds going to support AHS and River Farm: 2021 AHS Online Auction.
Throughout the past year, we have been touched by your steadfast support and commitment to AHS, to River Farm and to the prospect of an exciting new vision and direction for our organization. As we look ahead to a brighter future, we look forward to sharing our progress and plans with all of you.
With gratitude and all best wishes,
American Horticultural Society
P.S. View Monday’s entire press conference.
News & Press
Watch the AHS Press Conference
News & Press
River Farm Will Remain Headquarters of the AHS
Thanks to the overwhelming outpouring of support from our American Horticultural Society members and donors, neighbors and stakeholders, public officials and the community over the past year, we are extremely pleased to announce that River Farm will continue to be our national headquarters and remain a priceless asset for the general public and future generations to enjoy. We are grateful to all of those individuals and groups who rallied around us to help preserve and protect this historic property. Throughout the year-long debate over the future of River Farm, we have always been convinced that there is a strong and viable path forward – with AHS as the steward of the property, supported by like-minded friends and partners. And now, with River Farm officially off of the open real estate market, we have the opportunity to fully realize this dream.
For those of us who have been working tirelessly to keep AHS at River Farm, this is a simple story of keeping promises made to donors. First and foremost, we know that it is our ongoing ethical responsibility to honor the wishes of our benefactor Enid Annenberg Haupt, who provided the funds to purchase River Farm in 1973. Her only stipulations were that River Farm serve as the national headquarters of AHS and that the beautiful grounds and gardens remain open for public enjoyment. Now, on the eve of our 100th anniversary celebration – and almost 50 years at River Farm – we can rededicate ourselves to this purpose, amplifying our national mission with River Farm as our home base.
A key priority over the next few days and weeks will be to re-open River Farm to the public and reconstitute the garden volunteer program. We also look forward to working with partners in the public and private sectors to help secure the financial future of AHS and River Farm as well as fortify safeguards that will eliminate the threat of development on the property permanently. Towards that end, we are launching a fundraising campaign that 1) strengthens our ability to steward River Farm over the long-term, 2) ensures that the property remains an idyllic open space, and 3) creates a platform for developing an ambitious portfolio of horticultural programs with a broad national reach.
We are grateful for the support and commitment of all of our AHS stakeholders – and especially our members — who supported our efforts to preserve River Farm as an irreplaceable national treasure. We very much look forward to collaborating with you on this exciting new chapter.
American Horticultural Society Board of Directors