2016 Fall Board Meeting Held in Apalachicola, Florida


Dr. Helen Tudor welcomed Southern Garden History Society board members and spouses to Apalachicola, Florida for the fall board meeting, held over the last weekend of October. This historic area is long known as an oyster and fishing hub and part of “Florida’s forgotten coast.” In advance of the meeting, some board members explored remote beaches of St. George Island, while others walked the historic downtown area and visited longleaf pine forests.

Prior to the day-long meeting the board was treated to a Halloween dinner on Friday night at the Chapman House Museum, a Greek Revival-style home built in the 1840s by Dr. Alvan Chapman, which Tudor has lovingly and carefully restored. Chapman, a physician and pioneering botanist in the Southeast, wrote Flora of the Southern United States, the first comprehensive description of plants in any region of the U.S. outside of the northeastern states. One of the premier botanists of his time, Chapman is credited with discovering numerous species of rare plants in Florida. The Chapman House sits adjacent to historic Chestnut Cemetery, which board members toured after dinner on a “Ghost Walk,” culminating with a visit to the gravesite of Dr. Chapman.

The new SGHS committee structure approved in our updated by-laws was put into place over the summer. With the assistance of SGHS Administrator Virginia Hart, conference calls and Google documents allowed committee chairs to prepare reports in advance so that our full agenda could be discussed. Highlights of the fall board meeting include the following:

  • The Finance Committee (Chair Gail Griffin) reported on four summer meetings held to discuss immediate and future budget expenses, annual meeting expenditures, membership categories, long-term financial planning, and more.
  • The Publicity and Membership Committee (Chair Lee Dunn) is interested in membership retention and enhancing membership at the state level. They proposed the establishment of a State Ambassadors program whereby assigned board members and other interested SGHS members would organize at least one yearly event in each state or region. Piggybacked with other meetings or as stand-alone events, these gatherings would allow those who cannot attend the annual meeting to gather with other SGHS members. State Ambassadors may also feed calendar event information and members in the news to Magnolia
  • The Scholarship and Awards Committee (Chair Lee Bynum Schwall) will continue its outreach to students and new professionals. Applications for our three annual meeting scholarships to the Lexington, Kentucky annual meeting are due to Greg Grant (ggrantgardens@yahoo.com), our society’s scholarship chairman no later than March 15, 2017. This is a great opportunity for students interested in Southern garden and landscape history, in historic horticulture, and in the preservation of historic landscapes in the South. Interested persons are directed to the SGHS website
  • Annual Meeting Committee Chair John Sykes reported on Lexington (2017) and Jacksonville (2018) meetings.
  • Members of the Publications Committee and editors work long hours to produce our stellar journal Magnolia. Chair Peggy Cornett asked for continuing calendar entry and “members in the news” submissions.
  • Long Range Planning Committee: Chair Randy Harelson circulated a list of potential future meeting sites.
  • The Nominating Committee (Chair John Sykes) asked for suggestions from board members and general members to fill upcoming board vacancies.
  • Strategic Planning Proposal Adopted – Gordon Chappell summarized the strategic plan notes from fall board meeting 2015, and the board adopted that plan. A full report will be given to the general membership at the Lexington business meeting.

We encourage SGHS members to follow our lead and take a trip to this fascinating part of the Florida panhandle. Be sure to visit The Chapman House Museum, scheduled to open in 2017.


Susan Haltom, SGHS President