Expanding opportunities for fellowship and educational outreach has been a focus of this administration and was a recommendation that came from the long range planning committee.  To that end the State Ambassadors Program was launched in 2017. Consisting of a representative or ambassador in each member state, the ambassador’s role is to plan one event a year in their state or region that fits our educational mission and provides an opportunity to meet with members outside of the annual meeting. The function can be as simple as providing a gathering spot for members to attend an event already being held in the region, such as a lecture, garden tour, or other related activity.

SGHS Board member Ced Dolder with Barbara Adkins in the dining room of Martha Berry’s home in Rome, GA during spring 2017

Four Ambassadors events have been held so far in 2017. The first event was held in Point Coupee Parish, Louisiana in conjunction with the Bartram Trail Conference held in Baton Rouge. Randy Harelson, the Louisiana state Ambassador took advantage of an already existing event and included a gathering for SGHS members. Piggybacking onto an existence event brings a new and appreciative audience to their event, while providing our members the opportunity to attend an event compatible with our mission, and to be with members of their own state in a smaller gathering than the annual meeting provides.

Our second Ambassadors program took place in Georgia near the Alabama and Tennessee borders. Because of its location, the Georgia state Ambassadors, Lee Dunn and Ced Dolder included members in all three states in their invitation to an event in Rome, Georgia. Several Alabama members made the trip to Georgia, along with others, to receive a private tour given by then-director Tim Brown of Oak Hill at Berry College, Martha Berry’s Cridland designed landscape and gardens. Tim also gave SGHS members a private tour of the Martha Berry Museum. That evening SGHS members were treated to a complimentary dinner at the home and garden of the President of the Rome Federation of Garden Clubs. The next day The Garden Club of Georgia hosted a fundraising luncheon and lecture at Ford Hall on the Berry College campus, featuring garden designer Tara Dillard. SGHS members were invited to attend this event as well. The evening with Tim Brown was complimentary, while the fundraising event the next day cost $40, payable to The Garden Club of Georgia, proceeds of which went directly to their Historic Landscape Preservation Grant Fund.

A variation on the theme was the wonderful summertime event held at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley hosted by Virginia State Ambassadors Perry Mathewes and Jane White.

Alabama members of the SGHS were invited this fall, along with surrounding states, to a private luncheon in the garden of SGHS member Cathy Adams, followed by a visit to the Birmingham Botanical Garden.  Members from both Mississippi and Alabama attended the event. Along with a spectacular view of the Birmingham skyline, Cathy’s garden features borders of perennials and blooming shrubs. The group had lunch on the beautiful stone terrace of the Adams’ historic house overlooking the city.  The day culminated with a trip to the Birmingham Botanical Garden for their show “Antiques at the Garden 2017.”


Lee Threadgill and Marsha Cannon from Jackson, Mississippi at Cathy Adam’s garden gate, Birmingham AL

Looking ahead to 2018, Georgia and Florida State Ambassadors are partnering in an event at Pebble Hill Plantation in Thomasville, GA. Once again the Southern Garden History Society will be supporting The Garden Club of Georgia’s annual Historic Landscape Preservation fundraiser. This year the event will feature past SGHS President Staci Catron and her co-author Mary Ann Eaddy launching their new book Seeking Eden, A Collection of Georgia’s Historic Gardens, published by the University of Georgia Press. The book is an update and expansion to the early twentieth-century publication Garden History of Georgia 1733-1933. Both ladies were presenters at our Restoring Southern Landscapes Conference in Winston-Salem where they previewed their book. At the Thomasville event, attendees will be able to enjoy lunch and lecture  by Staci and Mary Ann, followed by the opportunity to purchase the book and have the authors sign it. The day will culminate with tours of the mansion at Pebble Hill and its expansive gardens and grounds. The event will be held May 9, 2018. Tickets will be $40 per person and may be purchased by mailing a check made payable to GCG and mailed to Susan Bennett, 5866 Riverside Drive, Macon, GA 31210. Telephone: 478-476-8228. Email:waynebennett@bellsouth.net.

Tim Brown, former director of Oak Hill, in the Robert Cridland designed garden at Berry College

2017 Ambassadors

Alabama – Barbara Adkins
Florida – Frances Carter
Georgia – Lee Dunn/Ced Dolder
Louisiana – Randy Harelson
Mississippi – Susan Haltom & Cecile Wardlaw
North Carolina – Andrea Sprott/Lee Schwall
South Carolina – Susan Epstein
Texas – Jeff Abt
Virginia/Maryland/DC – Perry Mathewes & Jane White