Virtual Program: Ethel Earley-Clark—Unearthing the History of African American Garden Clubs in America

Virtual Program: Ethel Earley-Clark—Unearthing the History of African American Garden Clubs in America

Ethel Earley-Clark (center), judging a show with members of the Negro Garden Club of Virginia, 1944

Thu, Feb 24, 2022
2:00 PM- 3:00 PM

The gardening boom and the social justice movement have reinvigorated Black garden history. One of the most fascinating figures to emerge is Ethel Earley-Clark, one of four founding members and the only woman of the Negro Garden Club of Virginia. On April 22, 1932—almost 90 years ago—Mrs. Clark was elected the organization’s first president. After 1932, African American Garden Clubs grew throughout the United States of America and represent Ethel Earley-Clark’s spirit to organize a growing number of Black women to use garden clubs as a means of civic engagement.

Join us for this webinar, as horticulturist and landscape designer Wambui Ippolito, public horticulturist and floriculture historian Abra Lee, and Anne Spencer House & Garden Museum curator Shaun Spencer-Hester discuss how their individual interests led them to each other and to unearthing African American garden club histories, including the Negro Garden Club of Virginia. 

Thursday, February 24, 2022
2:00 p.m. Eastern

Live on Zoom

Registration for this event has ended.
All registrants will be sent a recording of the webinar a few days after the live event. 

Members of the Frank & Anne Cabot Society for planned giving have complimentary access to Garden Conservancy webinars. All Cabot Society members will automatically be sent the link to participate on the morning of the webinar. For more information about the Cabot Society, please contact Sarah Parker at or 845.424.6500, ext. 214.

Wambui Ippolito
 (left), is the 2021 Best in Show award winner at the Philadelphia Flower Show, the largest show of its kind in North America. Born in Kenya, Ms. Ippolito was influenced by her mother’s garden in Nairobi, her grandmother’s farm in the countryside, and the natural landscapes of East Africa. A graduate of the New York Botanical Garden's School of Horticulture, Veranda magazine named her one of “Eleven Revolutionary Female Landscape Designers and Architects You Should Know" in 2021. Ms. Ippolito lectures internationally and is the founder of the BIPOC Hort Group, a multicultural professional organization with membership from the USA, Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. She lives in New York City, where she concentrates on urban gardens, public spaces, and large estates. 

Abra Lee (center), is an international speaker, writer, and founder of Conquer The Soil, a community which explores the history, folklore, and art of horticulture. She has spent "a whole lotta time in the dirt" as a municipal arborist and airport landscape manager. Her essays have been featured in publications including The New York Times and Wildflower Magazine. Lee is a graduate of Auburn University College of Agriculture and an alumna of the Longwood Gardens Society of Fellows, a global network of public horticulture professionals. 

Shaun Spencer-Hester (right), is the executive director and board treasurer at the Anne Spencer House & Garden Museum, in Lynchburg, VA. The site is the former home and gardens of her grandfather, Edward Spencer, and his wife, Anne Spencer, an American poet, teacher, civil rights activist, librarian, and gardener. Anne Spencer holds an important place as a widely anthologized poet, and was the first Virginian and one of three African American women included in the highly influential Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry (1973).