December 2022 Newsletter

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The Garden Conservancy News

Preservation at Scale: Great Significance of a Small Garden

Beauty and hope can flower despite the environment and the times. When that happens, the experience can be transcendent. A garden in these circumstances, even a small, private, and very personal garden can take on meaning much greater than its humble beginnings.

The Anne Spencer House and Garden Museum on Pierce Street in Lynchburg, Virginia, is The Garden Conservancy’s smallest garden partner. Fortunately, the Conservancy recognized and embraced the site’s huge importance and welcomed the petite garden into its fold in 2008.

“The Anne Spencer House and Garden Museum is unique, and we are pleased to contribute to its preservation,” says Conservancy President and CEO James Brayton Hall. “It is rare for a historic house and garden to survive. It is especially rare for the house and garden of an African American.” Not only is it a museum and a garden, but it provides a meaningful opportunity to learn about the history of America at an important and pivotal time.

The garden is significant as the home and creation of a renowned Harlem Renaissance poet and civil rights advocate, Anne Spencer. On a lot only 45x125 feet, it is a far cry from the sprawling splendor

usually associated with a “great garden,” but it became an integral site for an entire community of African American creatives, thought leaders, and advocates in the early 20th century. Spencer’s garden is “the only known intact house museum and restored garden of an African American in the United States,” wrote Spencer’s granddaughter Shaun Spencer-Hester in #GardenPreservation: Preserving, Sharing, and Celebrating America’s Cultural Legacy (The Garden Conservancy, 2021).

Before the Conservancy came along, efforts were being made to restore and preserve Spencer’s legacy by Spencer’s son, Chauncey Spencer, who enlisted the

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Anne Spencer House and Garden Museum
God never planted a garden But he placed a keeper there…
—Anne Spencer

Letter from the President and CEO

In the Northeast, we are having what seems to be an abnormally warm autumn. Even into early November, the thermometer has reached the lower 70s, and as I write this, the pots on my front walk are still looking a bit summery, with Pelargoniums and Lobelia happily enjoying a respite from the heat of August and blissfully unaware that just a few miles north, our neighbors have already had their first light frost.

As gardeners, we are all bound to the seasons in one way or another. Even our Conservancy members in more temperate or sub-tropical climates can watch the ebb and flow of temperature, rainfall, bloom, and senescence. When I lived in South Florida, the Tabebuia were a reliable indicator of spring, with their pink and yellow “Easter egg” colors. The yellow ones made me a bit homesick, their blossoms reminiscent of the daffodils I knew would be coming up before too long back home in northern climates.

In my own Rhode Island garden, as well as my tiny terrace in the Hudson Valley, an autumn, even as benevolent as this one has been, urges action on the part of gardeners (including lazy ones like myself!). The leaves eventually fall, bulbs must be planted, and tender plants brought inside or protected by other means.

The exciting and complicated work of documenting gardens for posterity is a nuanced process, much like creating and maintaining gardens. Through the Suzanne and Frederick Rheinstein Fund for Garden Documentation and with the support of generous donors, the Conservancy is continuing in its goal to use the medium of film to preserve both the history and experiential nature of significant American gardens.

We recently made our second visit to the Anne Spencer House and Garden Museum in Lynchburg, Virginia, followed by filming at the Anne Spencer Archives at the University of Virginia. I hope you will enjoy reading our cover story about this important American garden and its creator. In 2023 you will be able to view our latest garden documentary film on our website!

Thank you for supporting The Garden Conservancy and participating in our programs. Best wishes for a peaceful end to this gardening year and a bountiful new year of growth and abundance ahead in 2023!


Courtnay S. Daniels Chair

Robert M. Balentine Vice Chair

James Brayton Hall President and CEO

Susan Payson Burke Secretary

Sharon J. Pryse Treasurer

Benjamin F. Lenhardt, Jr. Chair Emeritus

Mary-Randolph Ballinger

Shelley Belling

Allison K. Bourke

Barbara Whitney Carr

J. Barclay Collins II

Elizabeth Everdell

Lionel Goldfrank III

Susan Zises Green

Suzanne Kayne

Frederick A. Landman

Elizabeth Locke

Joseph J. Marek


Linda Allard

Douglas H. Banker

Josephine B. Bush

F. Colin Cabot

Edward N. Dane

Page Dickey

Dorothy H. Gardner

Thomas B. Hunter III

Dr. Richard W. Lighty

Jean-Paul L. Montupet

Stephen Orr

Suzanne Rheinstein

Katie Ridder

Ann Copeland Rose

Jorge A. Sánchez

Howard G. Seitz

Christopher Spitzmiller

Patricia A. Steffan

Dana Scott Westring

Susan Lowry

Joseph F. McCann

Chapin Nolen

Barbara Paul Robinson

Deborah G. Royce

Susan Stone

Nancy Thomas Rodman Ward, Jr.

Louise A. Wrinkle

The Garden Conservancy Post Office Box 608 Garrison, NY 10524 845.424.6500

Open Days toll-free number 888.842.2442 #gardenconservancy #gcopendays

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The correction on page 2 of the September issue of The Garden Conservancy News needs correcting. George Betsill worked for Innocenti and Webel not Innocenti and Webb. One of my favorite plants in my small shady Rhode Island garden is this Kuma bamboo grass (Sasa veitchii). I eagerly wait for the first frost to turn its leaf margins white.

Three Retiring Board Members

Suzanne Rheinstein

After leading the way to a new avenue for The Garden Conservancy’s preservation e fforts, Suzanne Rheinstein will retire from the board of directors when her term ends in December. In 2014, inspired by her late husband Fred’s illustrious career in television and media, and by her own belief that gardens are most meaningful when experienced firsthand, Suzanne began conversations with Conservancy leadership about how to capture and share the essence of a garden: its beauty and its stories. Today, the Suzanne and Frederic Rheinstein Garden Documentation Program is achieving this goal by creating new documentary film footage and organizing historical archival materials that capture and preserve America’s gardens through our Documentation Program.

Suzanne joined the Conservancy’s board in 2004 and has been an energetic ambassador, introducing and involving countless friends in the organization’s mission and activities. She has provided generous annual, endowment, and program support, and she also helped expand the Society of Fellows garden-study tours program to international destinations, beginning with Belgium in 2009. She has served on numerous committees, most recently, as chair of the Nominations Committee. She co-chaired the Conservancy’s 25th Anniversary Celebration and has served on the Executive, Development, and Communications committees. Upon her retirement, she will be named a Director Emerita.

She is an internationally renowned interior designer and author whose firm, Suzanne Rheinstein & Associates, works with clients all over the country and is frequently featured in design magazines. Her own garden, in the Windsor Square area of Los Angeles, is included in Outstanding American Gardens: A Celebration – 25 Years of the Garden Conservancy and has opened to the public during The Garden Conservancy Open Days. She also enjoys time in a serene new garden in Montecito, CA.

Howard G. Seitz

Gerry Seitz , will be retiring in December, after serving as The Garden Conservancy’s legal counsel from its beginning in 1989 to the present. He was elected to the Conservancy’s board of directors in 1996 and named Secretary/Treasurer, a position he held through 2021. Gerry’s law career includes 20 years as a partner at O’Connor, Murphy, Ryan & Seitz and, more recently, an active practice in business, commercial law, and trusts and estates with the international law firm Duane Morris LLP, and with Satterlee Stephens Burke & Burke, which merged with Duane Morris in 2020.

Over 30 years ago, Gerry and his wife, Sue, found an 1890 carriage house set on an outcropping of rock overlooking the Kirby Mill Pond and its historic, red tide mill in Rye, NY. Connected to Long Island Sound, the pond is a haven for egrets, herons, and swans. At “Rye on the Rocks,” they enjoy finding plants for their rock and stone walls, terraces, and courtyard, and they treasure the sun rising from the East.

Gerry has logged many years of dedicated service on the Conservancy’s Executive and Finance and Investments committees. He has also been a member of the Long Range Planning and 25th Anniversary Celebration committees. His experience with governance in Westchester County, NY, as a member of the City Council of Rye, informed his valuable service on the Conservancy’s Rocky Hills Advisory Committee. Since 2000, Gerry and Sue have participated in at least fourteen Society of Fellows garden-study tours in the U.S. and traveled with the Fellows to Portugal in 2018. They are steadfast annual donors and have helped build the Conservancy’s endowment fund.

Patsy Steffan will be retiring this December after serving as a member of the board of directors since 1996, and she will be named a Director Emerita. Patsy offered her expertise in writing and editing to The Garden Conservancy’s programs. She helped write the Conservancy’s 25th anniversary book, Outstanding American Gardens: A Celebration – 25 Years of the Garden Conservancy, which was published by Abrams in 2015, and she served on the Communications Committee. After graduating from Smith College, Patsy worked for Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, and after the birth of her son, continued her career as a freelance writer and editor contributing to several college-level textbooks. More recently, she held an administrative position at Allen-Stevenson, an elementary school for boys in New York City.

Patsy and her husband, Andrew, tend an old-fashioned cottage garden on the East End of Long Island, NY, where Patsy is a member of the Garden Club of East Hampton and the Horticultural Alliance of the Hamptons. Much of their time though is spent being dedicated New York City dwellers, where Patsy participates in the Horticultural Society of New York activities.

Both Patsy and Andrew played key roles in The Garden Conservancy’s endowment campaign, providing leadership support and serving on the Campaign Committee. Patsy has been a member of the Audit Committee and the 25th Anniversary Committee. Generous in their annual giving as members of the Society of Fellows, the couple has joined the Fellows in studying gardens on 20 tours in the U.S. and participated in Fellows tours to London and the Cotswolds (2010) and France (2011).

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Peter P. Blanchard III

We deeply regret to report that Peter Blanchard died on August 7, 2022, at just 70 years of age. Peter and his wife Sofia were members of The Garden Conservancy’s Society of Fellows and they worked closely with the Conservancy for 20 years. They notably helped establish Greenwood Gardens as a vibrant public garden that benefits the community in Short Hills, NJ, and the greater metropolitan area. Peter grew up on the Greenwood Gardens property, which his parents purchased in 1949 from the estate of real-estate auctioneer Joseph P. Day. Peter’s parents built a new Colonial Revival-style home, and they improved the gardens, laying out new allées, planting hundreds of ornamental trees and

Dame Angela Lansbury

Angela Lansbury, the founding Honorary Chair of The Garden Conservancy, died on October 11, 2022, just before her 97th birthday. In 1989, when The Garden Conservancy founders Anne and Frank

shrubs, and adding ponds and sculpture.

Peter’s father also laid the groundwork to preserve the property for public use, and after his death in 2000, Peter and Sofia carried them forward. They reached out to The Garden Conservancy, and in 2002, the Conservancy’s board accepted Greenwood Gardens as a preservation project. From 2003 to 2005, the Conservancy agreed to assume management and administrative responsibility for the property, which opened for public guided tours. An ambitious 10-year renewal effort began in 2006, with improved public facilities and stabilized historic features. In 2013, the gardens reopened to the public, and now offer programs in horticulture, nature photography, birding, and jazz concerts. The Conservancy

Cabot were forming an Advisory Committee to assist in launching the Conservancy as a nonprofit organization, they asked Angela to serve as Honorary Chair. She attended the inaugural meeting that year and remained involved for years afterward, even serving as Honorary Chair of the organization’s 25th Anniversary Celebration in 2014. She spoke at the Garden Conservancy Tribute to Frank Cabot on April 30, 2012, at the New York Botanical Garden.

Angela and Anne Cabot built their friendship

Evelyn Moore McGee

Patti McGee was a cornerstone of The Garden Conservancy’s foundation, anchoring the newly evolving national organization firmly in the Southeast from her home base in Charleston, SC. We are heartbroken to report that she passed away on November 11th at age 87. A talented and avid plantswoman with a deep appreciation for Southern garden history, Patti was recruited by Frank Cabot for the Advisory Committee that would launch the Conservancy in 1989. She was elected to the Board of Directors in 1991 and served for 24 years before retiring with the title Director Emerita. Patti filled vitally important roles on the board: chairing the Preservation Project Selection Committee for five years, serving on the Long Range

Planning Committee, expanding the Open Days program, and hosting garden-study tours for the Society of Fellows. The fact that the Conservancy’s tenth anniversary was held in Charleston is a testament to her leadership.

Patti was a dedicated, hands-on advocate for the preservation of important Southern gardens, including the Elizabeth Lawrence Garden and Montrose in North Carolina and the Pearl Fryar Garden in South Carolina. She and her husband Peter welcomed many new members and Open Days hosts to the Conservancy. The couple generously provided for the Conservancy’s future success with a bequest, in addition to their loyal annual support.

A native of South Carolina, Patti inherited her love of gardening from her mother.

continues to advise the garden’s board and staff members.

Peter Blanchard was a champion of natural resource conservation in New Jersey, Blue Hill Bay, Maine, and abroad. A great-grandson of Henry Clay Frick, Peter also served for many years as a trustee of The Frick Collection and the Helen Clay Frick Foundation. He enjoyed landscape painting and drawing in nature and often led tours and workshops about art and nature journaling at Greenwood Gardens.

decades earlier after Angela and her recently widowed mother left London with Angela’s young siblings during World War II. Angela spent time at the country homes of Anne’s father, diplomat George W. Perkins, and his wife Linn. During the 1970s, Angela became an enthusiastic amateur gardener after she moved to County Cork, Ireland, with her husband, Peter Shaw, and two children. The house they bought at the time was on 20 acres with a walled garden. They returned to Ireland, where Angela was a citizen, later in life.

Angela Lansbury had a highly acclaimed career in film, theater, and television for over seven decades, earning six Tony Awards, multiple Golden Globe Awards, and a devoted following in the United States and the United Kingdom.

She was a lifelong member of the Low Country Garden Club and very generous in opening her own outstanding garden. Peter shared her deep interest in American history, and the influential couple received the Mary Ramsay Civic Award in 2017 for their extraordinary gifts to the Spoleto Festival and the Charleston community. She and Peter were founding members of the Charleston Horticultural Society, and Patti was involved with the Southern Garden History Society and served as the South Carolina advisor to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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At the 1989 meeting to plan The Garden Conservancy: back row, from left: Frank Cabot, Betty Corning, Marco Polo Stufano. Front row: Angela Lansbury and Anne Cabot
In Memoriam

Preservation at Scale: Great Significance of a Small Garden

expertise of Jane Baber White, a garden designer and author of Lessons learned from a Poet’s Garden: The Restoration of the Historic Garden of Harlem Renaissance Poet Anne Spencer, Lynchburg, Virginia. It was she who connected the Conservancy with this garden. “I had gone to a preservation conference that was sponsored by The Garden Conservancy and it was sort of a life-changing thing. I’d never been to anything like that,” she says in an interview for the Conservancy’s film documentation of the site. “The Garden Conservancy was a great help to us in advising on the garden.”

The Conservancy took up the cause after White contacted the organization in 2008. Over the years, its most important assistance to the Spencer garden has been its preservation planning, small grants, and continuing guidance and advice. The current documentation of the garden, thanks to the Suzanne and Frederic Rheinstein Fund for Garden Documentation, provides a new opportunity to chronicle its evolution from a home and intimate gathering space to a nationally important cultural landscape. To document this site, the Conservancy conducted

interviews with experts in the fields of landscape architecture, garden design, historic preservation, museums, archives, literature, and community leaders.

We filmed among some of Anne Spencer’s original plantings to capture the authenticity of the garden. The fragrances and color from lush plantings underscored the experiential nature of a visit here. Filled with serenity, it felt as if we would encounter Anne Spencer herself tending to the garden while we meandered through this refuge of roses, anemones, a stone writing cottage, “Edenkraal” built by her beloved husband, Edward, a series of arbors, and a pond with a statue, “Prince Ebo,” gifted to her by W.E.B. Dubois.

“In documenting the garden, not only are we preserving Anne Spencer’s important legacy and providing educational opportunities, we are also helping the House and Garden Museum connect with a much larger audience. Engaging the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and the National Trust for Historic Preservation in our documentation has been an important part of that process. Anne Spencer and her home and

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garden have local, regional, and national significance,” says Pamela Governale, the Conservancy’s Director of Preservation.

Who Was Anne Spencer?

Annie Bethel Scales Bannister Spencer (rechristened “Anne” by her mentor, Harlem Renaissance writer James Weldon Johnson, who thought it a better writer’s name) lived from 1882 to 1975 and was, by all accounts, a complex woman.

The daughter of a formerly enslaved father, Spencer’s parents worked on a plantation after getting married. As a child, she was a distinguished student, attending the Virginia Seminary at age eleven and graduating as valedictorian in 1899. She is best known as a poet, but she was also a librarian, teacher, community activist, civil rights advocate, wife, mother, and lest it be forgotten, a gardener. Spencer also helped establish the Lynchburg Chapter of the NAACP. Her home and garden were a sanctuary and cultural epicenter, where she hosted Langston Hughes, George Washington Carver, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and other important figures of the Harlem Renaissance and civil

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Left: James Brayton Hall (President and CEO, The Garden Conservancy) interviewing Shaun Spencer-Hester (Executive Director, Anne Spencer House and Garden Museum). Right: Kevin Young (Director, Smithsonian National Museum of African American History), Shaun Spencer-Hester (Executive Director Anne Spencer House and Garden), James Brayton Hall (President and CEO, The Garden Conservancy), and Pamela Governale (Director of Preservation, The Garden Conservancy) in Washington D.C.

rights leaders of the 1920s and 30s. Anne Spencer would write in Edankraal, overlooking her garden, inspired by her plantings and nature in general. Spencer was known to write on any scrap of paper—including seed packets and nursery catalogs. Thirty of her poems were published while she was alive. Though she only published a small fraction of her poetry in her lifetime, her impact is lasting and remarkable. Spencer was the first African American woman poet to be featured in the Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry (1973).

The Anne Spencer Garden Spencer’s garden, like her poetry, is being anthologized. The flowering of African American arts and culture that defined the Harlem Renaissance was reflected in Spencer’s garden as well as in her poetry. Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture Kevin Young says, “it is important for us to stay connected to…spaces like the Anne Spencer House and Garden

Museum because…it helps us think about the ways that history is found everywhere, and it is vibrant and evergreen, but it also requires tending to a much like a garden.” Public since 1985, its inclusion in The Garden Conservancy’s portfolio furthers its path to preservation.

There were keepers placed in Lynchburg, and they kept on keeping on. Spencer was the first. She moved in and began to create the garden in 1903 when she was twenty, raising her children there. The torch has been passed to her granddaughter, Shaun Spencer-Hester, Executive Director of the Anne Spencer House and Garden Museum.

“If you want to understand any age and history, take a look at its gardens,” says Reuben Rainey, William Stone Weedon Professor Emeritus of Landscape Architecture, University of Virginia, and co-author of Half My World: The Garden of Anne Spencer, a History and Guide. He continues,

“This is a chapter of American history that we need to know more about. The

garden was her muse in many ways. A lot on a historic, black, middle-class block, its four varied “rooms” (see graphic) made it seem larger than its actual dimensions. The layout of the Anne Spencer garden is very, very sophisticated. I remember the first time I saw it and I thought, this is, this is quite an impressive garden,” says Rainey. It’s “...a design that expresses values.”

The garden itself is a linear set of four rooms defined by hedges and evergreens. Conservancy advisors who initially visited found it, “a highly original garden with a vivid sense of space and color. The mixed planting of herbaceous perennials, annuals, roses, and flowering shrubs create a rich tapestry of color that is complemented by ornaments made of found objects.”

Interviews conducted with Peggy Cornett, Curator of Plants at Monticello, underscored the personal connection Anne and her community felt for her garden. According to Cornett, “It’s telling a story of an individual and the people she was associated with… that’s what makes it

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James Brayton Hall (President and CEO, The Garden Conservancy), Shaun Spencer-Hester (Executive Director, Anne Spencer House and Garden Museum), Brent Leggs (Executive Director, African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund) at the Anne Spencer House and Garden Museum

very significant and very unique.” Rainey emphasized this point in his interview with the Conservancy saying, “it’s an extremely rare historic site. Beyond that, it’s a garden that is involved in the life of this community. It’s embedded in the civic life of Lynchburg…and makes us more aware of the richness of African American history and culture, much of which has been neglected or erased.”

Through her garden, Spencer created “a more ideal space than that which she encounters on a daily basis in Lynchburg,” says Noelle Morissette, Program Director of African American and African Diaspora Studies and Associate Professor of English at the University of North Carolina —Greensboro. The Anne Spencer House and Garden is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, a designated Virginia landmark, and is the beating heart of the Pierce Street Renaissance Historic District,

whose properties are important to history due to their associations “with the lives of persons significant in our past.”

Placing a Keeper…

Now, the Anne Spencer Garden has more “keepers” than ever. In addition to the individuals dedicated to its growth, institutional interest has more than stirred. “The Garden Conservancy has had a major impact on the preservation of the Anne Spencer Garden,” says SpencerHester, “and provided unbelievable opportunities for this small, sophisticated garden to continue to flourish, grow, and be shared with new audiences and generations.”

It is through our collective efforts to preserve and share a garden’s tangible and intangible heritage that we can capture a unique sense of place essential to understanding the layers of our history.

Senior Vice President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Executive Director of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund Brent Leggs shares that, “It’s beautiful to see the power of vernacular’s beautiful to present them to the public. Preserving sites of black activism, achievement, and resilience is fundamental to understanding our nation’s full history.”

It is not only the garden that endures. Everyone who visits remarks on the personal and intimate nature of the space. It’s not the plants. It’s not the artifacts.

“She is still here,” says White.

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Left: Archive materials from 1936. Middle: Kevin Young (Director, Smithsonian National Museum of African American History). Right: Krystal Appiah (Curator, Special Collections Library, University of Virginia)
Peace is here and in every season a quiet beauty.
—Anne Spencer
Garden plan by Emmanuel Didier

Investing in the Pacific Northwest’s Garden Heritage

Touring the bold tapestry of gardens in the Pacific Northwest reveals a landscape replete with sites of cultural, historic, and natural significance. To help preserve gardens in the Pacific Northwest, we established The Garden Conservancy Northwest Network (GCNN), a member-based association of gardens, parks, and horticultural organizations. The Conservancy provides the GCNN with educational and development support as a tool of preservation. This type of support empowers gardens to leverage their role as valuable heritage and cultural resources within their communities and represents a crucial area of opportunity for preservation.

In November, The Garden Conservancy’s Preservation Team traveled to Lakewood, Washington to host the first GCNN in-person event in over 2.5 years! Held at Lakewold Gardens, the program was well-attended by GCNN members, including Lake Wilderness Arboretum and Highline SeaTac Botanical Garden, two of this year’s Gardens Futures Grants recipients funded by The Garden Conservancy. The focus of this program was volunteerism. Volunteerism has changed quite a bit in the last several years and many gardens are struggling to reignite and re-engage volunteers. For these organizations the contributions of volunteers go a long way in helping them achieve their goals.

The full-day workshop provided garden leaders, with both established volunteer programs and those seeking to develop new ones, the opportunity to learn from experts and colleagues about best practices for creating impactful

volunteer programs. The event highlighted volunteer recruitment, engagement, and retention methods and included an informative panel discussion with current GCNN members of Bellevue Botanical Garden, Dunn Gardens, PowellsWood Garden, and Yakima Area Arboretum. GCNN members in attendance brought passion and enthusiasm that made for a lively, energetic day and underscored the importance of The Conservancy’s work in the Pacific Northwest.

We also had the opportunity to stroll the garden grounds and woodland on an informative tour led by Lakewold’s lead horticulturalist, Kristine Dillinger. Our walk was marked by the region’s quintessentially cool, wet, and moody fall weather, which showcased the garden’s serenity within a grand landscape. Lakewold Gardens is an early-20th-century country retreat estate and garden that opened to the public in 1989. The garden’s design was influenced by the Olmsted brothers and later by leading American landscape architect Thomas Church, who was a frequent visitor to Lakewold. Their design fingerprints are still visible today. The historic landscape of Lakewold represents just one of the many important cultural and heritage gardens in the Pacific Northwest.

The Conservancy will reconvene in person with GCNN members next spring for another workshop. In between our trips to the West Coast, the Preservation Department hosts virtual “coffee hours” to connect with members about their current events, successes, challenges, and opportunities, including finding new avenues for collaboration with The Garden Conservancy. For more information, visit

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GCNN members at Lakewold Garden, Lakewood, Washington

Garden Futures Grants Highlights: GreenSpacesLA, Terra BIRDS, Land to Learn

The Garden Conservancy’s Garden Futures Grants (formerly known as Gardens for Good) program awards grants—typically ranging from $5,000 to $10,000—to small public gardens and other nonprofit organizations that are making a significant impact in their communities through garden-based programming. Through this program, we celebrate and highlight the work of innovative and diverse gardening practices throughout the United States.

In 2022 we awarded 16 grants to organizations around the country, and we are pleased to share highlights from three recipients whose work is supported by your generous donations.

One of our 2022 grant recipients was GreenSpacesLA , a nonprofit in Los Angeles, CA, whose mission is to create, revitalize, renovate and maintain public community gardens in underserved urban locations in South Los Angeles.

GreenSpacesLA has worked to beautify and bring greenspaces to the Watts community since March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic brought food insecurity to the doorstep of the Imperial Courts Housing Projects and the residents who live there. The founders of GreenSpacesLA began volunteering at the Watts Empowerment Center to help obtain and distribute food to the community. After spending months working with local residents, who were devastated by the pandemic and isolated by stay-at-home orders, the founders learned that the community desperately needed green outdoor spaces to gather, relax, and grow healthy foods. And so GreenSpacesLA was born!

The organization believes that greater access to local greenspaces is important to the health and vitality of the Watts community. They oversee the installation and also the short and long-term maintenance of greenspaces. Through this process, they have developed a unique hybrid professional-neighborhood partnership that co-maintains each garden and greenspace created.

The Garden Conservancy was delighted to hear that being a Garden Futures Grants recipient has helped GreenSpacesLA to grow and make a greater impact in their community:

“Being recognized as a recipient of The Garden Conservancy grant was transformative for GreenSpacesLA. Receiving such a generous grant from a nationally recognized organization not only allowed us to meet

our community garden goals sooner, it gave us the confidence – and credibility –to pursue additional grants to expand our reach. Because of The Garden Conservancy grant, we were awarded an additional grant from our LA County Supervisor to create a second Unity garden in Watts, which we are starting in December 2022.”

— Stacy Twilley, Co-Founder, GreenSpacesLA

Learn more about GreenSpacesLA by visiting their website and social media account


Another 2022 grant recipient, Terra BIRDS, is a nonprofit based in Flagstaff, AZ, whose mission is to inspire the next generation to design a sustainable and equitable future through gardening, eco-restoration, landscaping, outdoor recreation, community development, and personal wellness.

Terra BIRDS’ extraordinary impact can best be described by their three core programs:

• The School Gardens Program seeks to guarantee that all local kids grow up with a continuous track of nature-based experiences

• The Green Jobs Program strives to give real-world, green job experiences to local youth that will help build a diverse community of informed, active and accountable citizens

• The Community Gardens Program aims to educate the broader Flagstaff community about the importance of growing their own food and how to do so in a high desert environment

Through all of their programs, Terra BIRDS works towards equitable and fair access to wild urban spaces and gardens, as they recognize the historic and current imbalances in their small community. They strive to defend and cultivate natural open spaces that are accessible to any or all people in Flagstaff.

“Terra BIRDS works to expand and celebrate the important role of the gardener in today’s world. By developing garden and stewardship skills during the school day and after-school youth work programs, we hope to inspire young people to grow healthy food, respond to climate-related impacts to our environment, support and expand thriving habitats for people and wildlife, and to connect to the knowledge

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“The Garden Conservancy grant was transformative... it gave us the confidence — and credibility — to pursue additional grants and expand our reach.”
— Stacy Twilley

and wisdom of our elders. Support and partnership from The Garden Conservancy helps honor and pass on diverse garden knowledge to the next generation of gardeners.”

— Andrea Hartley, Development Director, Terra BIRDS

Learn more about Terra BIRDS on their website and social media channels:

@terra_birds and Facebook

Located in Beacon, NY, Land to Learn is a 2022 grant recipient whose mission is to grow a movement for food justice and community wellness through garden-based education.

Their flagship public school program, SproutEd, integrates nutrition, education, and experiential learning directly into the school day by bringing kindergarten through second-grade students into garden classrooms. Land to Learn’s education directors build school gardens and teach lessons during the school day and year-round that educate students

in nutrition, cooking, plant science, ecology, and food systems.

Recognizing the additional need for inclusivity and accessibility, Land to Learn has expanded its mission-based work to serve community centers, after-school programs, and student-led farmers markets. They also support fostered youths and youth burdened by the criminal legal system through their RadicleRoots for Teens and GroundTruth programs. Their ToolShed program is a train-the-trainer resource designed to put their most promising practices directly into the hands of teachers and parents looking to engage in educational gardening in their schools or homes.

“We really appreciate the generous support of The Garden Conservancy, which has helped Land to Learn carry out our flagship garden-based education program, SproutEd. Curious and eager students spent the fall months happily exploring and learning in their school gardens about seeds, life cycles, habitats, nutrition, and more. They have enjoyed some tasty vegetables fresh from the garden, including tomatoes, peppers, kale, and string beans.”

— Sam Adels, Co-Director, Land to Learn Learn more about Land to Learn on their website and social media.


The Garden Conservancy looks forward to highlighting more about our 2022 Gardens Futures Grants recipients in our next newsletter! For those interested in applying for a 2023 grant, applications will be announced via email to our entire mailing list in early Spring 2023.

Interested in supporting our Garden Futures Grants? Contact us at 845.424.6500 or visit our website:

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TerraBIRDS Land to Learn

Public Programs and Education

2022 Season Recap

40,000 people participated in The Garden Conservancy’s programming in 2022! We held 300 Open Days, 29 Digging Deeper events, 18 webinars, 8 Garden Masters Series events, and 7 public lectures. Thank you for participating! Next year is measuring up to be just as exciting with new programs, partners, and regions.

2023 Winter Webinar Sneak Peek

Our 2023 Winter Webinar Series begins in January! The first webinar on January 12th will feature urban garden designer Jason Williams, aka “Cloud Gardener UK.” In his talk, Williams will share his personal story from garden neophyte to RHS Flower Show multi-medalist with three appearances on the BBC’s Gardener’s World, among other shows. It all began during lockdown two years ago when he started a balcony garden on the 18th floor of his apartment building in Manchester, England. Along the way, Williams built up a large online community who followed his progress on YouTube, Tiktock, and Instagram. This year, a replica of his garden, called the The Cirrus Garden, appeared in the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and won a Silver Gilt Medal. This was followed by a Silver Medal for The Petit Nuage Garden at The RHS Tatton Park Flower Show. Motivating Williams is his mission to inspire a new generation of urban horticulturists and to show that gardens not only have mental health benefits but also have a direct impact on wildlife and biodiversity. Join Jason Williams at 2:00 p.m. ET on Thursday, January 12th. Registration, and the rest of the Winter Webinar Series lineup, will be published soon.

A New Original Series: Sissinghurst Through the Seasons

The Garden Conservancy is delighted to announce a virtual program in four parts in 2023, Sissinghurst Through the Seasons with Troy Scott Smith, the Head Gardener at Sissinghurst Castle Garden in England. Smith was our spring 2022 National Speaker and was so impressed by the response on his tour that he’s back to provide a deeper dive into his work in Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson’s famous private garden in Kent, now owned by the National Trust.

“In this series of talks, I will guide you through the course of a gardening year at Sissinghurst. I will share with you how the garden looks, which flowers are blooming at each season, and what it looked like during Sackville-West and Nicolson’s own time. I will show you how to get the best from your garden year-round, uncovering the secrets of pruning and propagation and discover the art of the English Garden. Each lecture will be packed with information, all simply explained and illustrated, and you will come away with techniques and confidence to put into practice in your own garden.” – Troy Scott Smith

Each virtual talk will be held on Zoom and will cost $5 for members ($15 for non-members). But if you register for all four lectures in advance, you’ll also receive video diary updates from Troy filmed on his walks through Sissinghurst’s grounds. The first talk will take place in March 2023. Registration will be announced early in the new year.

The Story Behind Colorado’s 2023 Open Days Comeback

Regional Ambassadors, both existing and new, have helped to expand the upcoming Open Days season. In the summer of 2021, Panayoti Kelaidis, Senior Curator and Director of Outreach at Denver Botanic Gardens and longtime Open Days Regional Ambassador, contacted us about bringing the Open Days program back to Colorado. Open Days has a long history in Colorado, going back to 1998. However, the program hasn’t revisited the state since 2018. When we reached out to begin talking about the 2023 Open Days season, Panayoti’s enthusiastic “Would LOVE to talk!” sparked a full season for Open Days in Colorado, expanding beyond Denver and into Steamboat Springs and Fort Collins. This is just one of the incredible instances of Regional Ambassadors bringing new and engaging programming to the fore.

The Trustees will be Back!

Next summer, The Garden Conservancy and The Trustees of the Reservations will partner on Open Days in Massachusetts for a second year. The Trustees is one of the oldest land groups in the world with more than 27,000 acres of land. They also own a number of historic properties which they have recently transformed into horticultural destinations. On June 11, 2023, The Trustees will open Long Hill in Beverly, home to structured and naturalistic gardens, and Stevens-Coolidge in North Andover, whose bountiful gardens will showcase two contemporary sculptures. On July 30, The Trustees will open Naumkeag, a Gilded Age estate with eight acres of formal gardens, and Mission House, one of only three surviving Fletcher Steele masterworks open to the public.

The Garden Conservancy News I December 2022 I 11

The Garden Conservancy

Post Office Box 608

Garrison, NY 10524

Surprise your favorite gardener with a gift membership and give the gift of gardens all year round!

Membership is a great way to connect your giftee with a community passionate about the many ways gardens influence and improve our lives while also supporting our work to preserve, share, and celebrate America’s gardens and diverse gardening traditions.

Members receive invitations and special pricing for all our educational programs, including Open Days, Digging Deeper, Garden Masters, in-person lectures, and other special programs—including our virtual talks—that you can view from the comfort of your home, regardless of geographic location.

Our online ticketing system allows for easy access to complimentary member credits for Open Days or virtual talks. Members stay connected through subscriptions to our print and electronic communications and are the first to receive a complimentary copy of the Open Days Directory, our most-beloved publication delivered in mid-February.

Membership opportunities start at just $50, last a full year, and are tax-deductible. Visit to learn more and gift a membership today!

If you have any questions, contact us at 845.424.6500, Monday - Friday, 9:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m. ET, or email

Your gift recipient will receive a festive holiday card announcing your gift that can be mailed to you or them – your choice.

This year’s card features Rain lily (Zephyranthes atamasco) from the book, Listen to the Land, Creating a Southern Woodland Garden, by Louise Agee Wrinkle, whose garden in Mountain Brook, Alabama is currently being documented by The Garden Conservancy through the Suzanne and Frederic Rheinstein Garden Documentation Program. Image generously provided by photographer Mick Hales.

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