News & Press

AHS & River Farm Closed in Honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

 

 Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree today.”

– Martin Luther King, Jr.   

 

 

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, American Horticultural Society and River Farm will be closed on January 16. We encourage our staff and AHS members to volunteer to improve their communities on this National Day of Service.   

Together, we are a family of gardeners sharing and planting seeds of hope, compassion, acceptance, equity, and peace.    

 

~ The AHS Team 

News & Press

Giving Tuesday Is Approaching!

This year, AHS is celebrating 100 years of fostering innovation and passion for gardening. For a century, AHS has served as the nation’s most respected and longstanding gardening organization. We play a special role in empowering Americans of all ages to be responsible caretakers of the Earth. Help us celebrate this Giving Tuesday on November 29th by making a gift to the AHS today and it will be matched dollar for dollar up to $55,000. You’ll help us blend education, social responsibility, and environmental stewardship to inspire more Americans to become responsible caretakers of the Earth. Donate now.

 

News & Press

NDAL Presents Ecology-based Landscape Intensive Virtual Course

Join influential Landscape Designer Larry Weaner and native plant expert Ian Caton as they explore the integration of restoration ecology and fine garden design. Applicable Regions: Eastern and Midwestern U.S. (Florida excluded). Presented by New Directions in the American Landscape (NDAL), the virtual sessions are $105 each and include a 100+ page, login-protected course manual. The session will be recorded live and viewable to registrants for three months after each live session date. Register today.

December 1, 1-4:30 PM EST
The Canopied Landscape: Woodlands, Edges, and Hedgerows
An ecology-based approach to woodland design is more like guiding a vegetative process than implementing a static planting plan. Guided succession can foster the orderly transformation from an open field to a multi-tiered forest through planting, managed natural recruitment, or a combination of the two. Under existing canopy, where few herbaceous species can be established through direct seeding, we will discuss the planting of small “seed source colonies,” and management strategies to encourage their proliferation into the larger landscape. Management techniques that are unique to woodlands including selective height cutting, sunlight manipulation, and assisted seed dispersal, will also be described in detail.

December 2, 1-4:30 PM EST
The Artistic Overlay: Making “Wild” Legible
Ecological design need not be a bitter aesthetic pill that our clients must swallow to do the right thing. The order inherent in our wild native landscapes is widely considered beautiful. By translating that ecology-based order into the aesthetically based language of fine garden design, the results can be much more universally embraced by our clients. In addition, Larry will illustrate how highly gardenesque – and even formal – elements can gracefully interact and intermingle with wilder woodland, shrubland and meadow compositions. This approach can result in landscapes that are both ecologically productive and visually pleasing to clients with a variety of aesthetic preferences.

December 15, 1-4:30 PM EST
Plants of the Open Landscape: Meadows, Old Fields, and Shrublands
In this session, native plant authority Ian Caton will examine plants of the open landscape that exemplify the ecological characteristics described by Larry Weaner in previous sessions. His presentation will span the successional period from herbaceous meadow, to mixed woody/herbaceous old field, to the ecologically important but often neglected clonal shrub thicket. He will also present a group of “workhorse” native species for the sunlit landscape that combine reliability and weed suppression with attractive aesthetic character.

December 16, 1-4:30 PM EST
Plants of the Canopied Landscape: Woodlands, Edges, and Hedgerows
In this session, native plant authority Ian Caton will examine plants of the canopied landscape that exemplify the ecological characteristics described by Larry Weaner in previous sessions. His presentation will include plants found at all of the woodland’s vertical layers, from canopy to understory. He will also discuss their specific abilities to integrate with the unique colonization strategies inherent in woodland development and enhancement. Finally, Ian will present a group of “workhorse” native species for the woodland, including those that combine reliability with desirable aesthetic characteristics.

News & Press

Halloween Horticulture History

Did you know that several Halloween rituals are rooted in horticulture? Our friends at the Royal Horticultural Society got the dirt on some of these stories. Here are three that we love.

  1. Apples – When cut down the middle, apples were said to reveal the witch’s five-pointed star, thus reflecting a symbol of magic.
  2. Turnips – Creating lanterns to scare off frightening spirits is thought to have originated in England, Ireland and Scotland centuries ago and still remains a tradition today with carved pumpkins. However, pumpkins and other winter squash only arrived in Europe in the 1500’s, so previous ancestors carved turnips and other hard-skinned autumn vegetables like swede (known as a rutabaga in America) and beetroot.
  3. Kale – As storied by Robert Burns in his poem “Halloween” published in 1785, kale was used to predict future romances. The length and shape of the stalk was said to represent your future partner’s height and figure while the amount of soil around the roots represented wealth.

For more fun Halloween horticultural history, visit Museum Crush.

News & Press

RIVER FARM NOW OPEN SATURDAYS!

GREAT NEWS RIVER FARM FANS!
Historic River Farm Autumn weekend hours are 9:00 AM – 1:00 p.m. on Saturdays beginning October 1st! Bring the kids, pack up Fido, grab a book or come by yourself to enjoy the beautiful colors of the leaves and cool air of Autumn! We can’t wait to see you this Saturday!!

News & Press

AHS 100th Anniversary Gala at River Farm to be held September 17th.

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.

Click here to receive news and updates regarding this exciting program.

 

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

Suzanne Laporte named President/CEO of the American Horticultural Society.

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
+1 202-386-3246
bbauman@ahsgardening.org

News & Press

AHS and River Farm: Outlook for 2022

 

A Message from the AHS Board of Directors:

A wonderfully snowy day at River Farm overlooking the meadow and the Potomac River.

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.

Our recent blanket of snow gave River Farm’s natural setting special accents unseen in a while.

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:
Skipp Calvert
Tim Conlon
Jane Diamantis
Laura Dowling
Amy Golden
Scott Plein
Holly Shimizu
Marcia Zech, Chair