The vision in a nutshell of the American Horticultural Society (AHS) is to make America a nation of gardeners and a land of gardens. Founded in 1922, it has evolved into a vital and inspiring organization with important programmatic partners including the National Pollinator Garden Network, Outdoors Alliance for Kids and Seed Your Future. The continued aim of AHS is the all-important concept of promoting and encouraging research and education in horticulture.
In the early 1970s, AHS established its headquarters at River Farm in northern Virginia, a 25 acre historic site once part of George Washington’s farmland overlooking the Potomac River. River Farm has become a blend of formal and naturalistic gardens, including a four-acre meadow, an orchard, a wildlife garden, and an award-winning children’s garden (designed specifically for kids and the way they play, explore and learn).
The organization’s support for youth gardening deserves special mention. AHS hosts each year a National Children & Youth Garden Symposium. Over the course of more than 25 years, thousands of teachers have attended these symposiums.
This year’s program, held in Madison, Wisconsin, offered approximately 50 sessions focused on wide-ranging topics over the course of three days, from the nitty gritty of what was learned from funding over 75 schoolyard gardens (presented by the Jeffers Foundation of Plymouth, Minnesota) to Beekeeping with Youth (presented by Community GroundWorks’ Goodman Youth Farm) to Student-Run Farmers Markets (presented by Chicago’s Academy for Global Citizenship).
And since 2005, the American Horticultural Society (AHS) and the Junior Master Gardener Program (JMG program), have honored the best new children’s books about gardening, nature and the environment with their annual Growing Good Kids- Excellence in Children’s Literature Awards. Last month, we noted the most recent award winners.
In this season of gift-giving, membership in AHS is a perfect present for a gardener. The $35.00 cost of National Membership includes valuable member benefits: a subscription to the organization’s magazine, The American Gardener; discounts on Renee’s Garden Seeds and on Timber Press gardening books; and free access to more than 330 public gardens.
A full-color guide of 60 pages, listing the more than 330 public gardens included in AHS’s Reciprocal Admissions Program, is available for $6.00. In addition, an on-line State-by-State Garden Directory is easy to use to find a participating garden, and a printable list of 15 pages is also available. Some gardens outside the United States (four in Canada, as well as ones in the Cayman Islands and the Virgin Islands) are also included in the program.
This home gardener had the pleasure of recently visiting the University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley (UC Botanical Garden). One of 34 gardens in California included in AHS’s Reciprocal Admissions Program, the UC Botanical Garden was established in 1890 and its scope and collection now encompasses plants from all continents and about 10,000 species. The arrangement of the outdoor collections is primarily geographic by continent of origin or by region including Asia, Australasia, California, Eastern North America, Mediterranean, Mexico/Central America, Deserts of the Americas, South America, and Southern Africa.
(Frank W. Barrie, 12/19/19)