Hello Spring!

As temperatures in the Northeast hover above freezing, our Open Days program headed south to Jacksonville, FL, for warmer climes on March 28 — the first of its 2015 season. In addition to the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, four private gardens were open to Open Days ticketholders on Saturday afternoon.

Open Days

The Garden Conservancy’s first garden visit in the South was held in 1994 in Charlottesville, VA. The tour featured three private gardens, including a terrace garden designed by landscape architect François Goffinet, and coincided with the Garden Club of Virginia’s 61st annual Historic Garden Week.

The following year, our formal Open Days program launched, expanding to become a national program in 1997. Since then, we have enjoyed the South’s particular brand of hospitality at gorgeous private gardens in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee.

Charleston, SC, has played host to numerous garden visits, as well our 10th Anniversary Celebration in 1999 —four full days of programs and tours. Chairman of the Board Ben Lenhardt and Board member Patti McGee are both local residents and, among their many other activities with the Garden Conservancy, have graciously opened their own gardens as part of Open Days. The program returns this year to Condé Nast Traveler’s #1 ranked U.S. city on May 23 and May 30, for “Beyond the Garden Gate,” two special Open Days organized in collaboration with the Spoleto Festival USA and the Charleston Horticultural Society. Each Saturday tour includes eight different gardens.

Garden Preservation

Our garden preservation and garden-study tour programs also have extensive histories in the region. In addition to participating in Open Days, Patti McGee has been instrumental in working with our staff on our preservation projects in the region, including the Elizabeth Lawrence Garden, the “living laboratory” of the noted garden designer and writer in North Carolina, and the remarkable Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden in South Carolina, a source of inspiration for visitors young and old.

In 1996, we endorsed preservation efforts to reclaim McKee Jungle Gardens (now McKee Botanical Garden) in Vero Beach, FL. We assisted the Indian River Trust with a master plan to preserve and re-open the garden, which was accomplished in 2001.

Longue Vue House & Gardens, in New Orleans, LA, has also been a preservation garden partner since 2006. The previous year – just four months after being designated a National Historic Landmark – its grounds were devastated by Hurricane Katrina. We sent a volunteer team of horticultural experts soon after to assist with the garden’s clean-up and restoration, raised funds to support the rescue, advised on landscape renewal plans, and assigned a Marco Polo Stufano Fellow to the garden in 2008.

We have also worked with Montrose, NC; the Eudora Welty Garden, MS; Hills and Dales Estate, GA; Knoxville Botanical Garden, TN; Nehrling Gardens, FL; and the Anne Spencer Garden, VA.

Society of Fellows Garden-Study Tours

Our Society of Fellows garden-study tours have visited several garden meccas in the South, including New Orleans, LA; Natchez, MS; Miami, FL; Palm Beach/Hobe Sound, FL; and Charlottesville, VA.

Our next Society of Fellows tour will be to Atlanta, GA, at the end of April, marking the first time the Fellows travel to “The Big Peach.” Participants will visit public and private gardens in the city's historic neighborhoods of Buckhead, Ansley Park, Brookwood Hills, Decatur, and Druid Hills, before spending a day southwest of the city in Newnan and La Grange, where Society of Fellows members Polly and Ken Mattox will entertain the group at their home. Highlights include fine examples of the work of historic luminaries William C. Pauley, Philip Trammel Shutze, William Monroe, and Neel Reid, as well as gardens designed by present-day professionals Ryan Gainey, Spencer Tunnell, John Howard, Jeremy Smearman, Marcia Weber, Richard Anderson, and Alex Smith.

The Atlanta garden-study tour is already fully subscribed. To receive notices about future garden-study tour opportunities, please consider becoming a member of our Society of Fellows.

Photo of McKee Botanical Garden, Vero Beach, FL.

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 Congratulations to Paul Redman, winner of the AHS Professional Award!

Art on the Green

Several of our preservation garden partners also showcase stellar art collections.

Victor Vasarely's "Zador," at Longue Vue House & Gardens, New Orleans

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Farewell, Dear Friend

Henriette Suhr, creator of Rocky Hills in Mount Kisco, NY, a highlight of our Open Days program every year since 1995, died on March 17, 2015.

Photo by Maria Robledo.

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