We welcome the following officers and directors of SGHS and know they will lead us forward with strength and wisdom. Our new president, Perry Mathewes, shares, “I am looking forward to serving as the next president of the SGHS. I am fortunate to follow in the footsteps of many great leaders for this organization and hope to continue the tradition of service they exemplify. As we move ahead in uncertain times, I know this group will continue to find ways to come together to explore and share the gardening traditions of many great Southern gardens and gardeners.”
Randy Harelson, Vice President (Louisiana)
Randy Harelson was born in Macon, GA to parents whose families both came from East Baton Rouge Parish, LA, for many generations. The family moved back to Louisiana when Randy was seven, but always called him their “Georgia peach.”
Educated at LSU Lab School and Louisiana State University, Randy moved to Massachusetts in 1974 to teach art in an innovative “integrated arts in education” program in Attleboro Public Schools. A gardener since childhood, he worked at Hill-Roberts Elementary School to develop an “outdoor classroom” of trees, shrubs, and flowers while a full-time art teacher. He later served as a professional designer and assistant horticulturist at Blithewold Mansion, Gardens and Arboretum in Bristol, Rhode Island. Randy’s broad career has included writing and illustrating nine published books, and running a retail nursery in Seagrove Beach, Florida that won the S. J. Blakely Award in 2003. Back home in New Roads, Randy has planted a small arboretum of trees and shrubs both native and imported, documented in Louisiana by 1860.
Randy first attended a SGHS annual meeting at Mount Vernon in 2010. The next year his home was included in the Sunday tours at the Baton Rouge meeting. Randy and his husband Richard Gibbs, an architect and gardener, have been members ever since, and Randy joined the board of directors in 2015. At home they care for two acres of gardens, a 500-year-old live oak, the 200-year-old LeJeune House, and a Siamese cat named Miss Priss.
Susan Epstein, Secretary (South Carolina)
Susan McLeod Epstein, tours manager for the Preservation Society, is steeped in the Lowcountry’s historic and contemporary gardens and knows the gardeners, designers, and landscape architects as well as local history. She is married to David, an engineer by degree but architect at heart, and together they have two adult children and two grandchildren. When not working she can be found either in her garden, someone else’s garden, or managing the family farm in Camden, SC where her family has farmed for over 200 years. She is an experienced gardener herself, has worked in the tour industry for nearly two decades, and is a licensed City of Charleston Tour Guide.
Susan was formally educated in horticulture, earning a BS in the field from Clemson University and is a South Carolina Certified Nurseryman. She served on the board of SGHS from 2010-2016, and in 2016, she organized and hosted the Society’s annual meeting in Charleston. Annually she teaches a 25-hour docent training program through the Charleston Horticultural Society. Susan has also been documenting historic landscapes and gardens in the Lowcountry as well as throughout the state. She has toured gardens extensively in the US, UK, and throughout Western Europe and is always looking forward to the next trip.
Gail Griffin, Treasurer (Maryland)
SGHS treasurer since 2007, Gail Griffin grew up in East Tennessee and graduated from Emory University with a BA, followed by a BS in horticulture and a MS in entomology from University of Georgia. Her interest in garden history began with the friendship of her mother-in-law, Florence Griffin, an early SGHS member and president, and grew during several years of living in London with her husband, Billy, and their three children. Gail is most interested in the design of American and European gardens of the early and middle twentieth century and in ecological processes that allow gardens to thrive.
As director of gardens and grounds at Dumbarton Oaks for twenty-one years, Gail Griffin worked to preserve and sustain Beatrix Farrand’s design. For accurate interpretation, Gail worked with garden historians and landscape architects. To maintain the garden’s health, she consulted with plant scientists including arborists, pathologists, and entomologists. She has visited and studied much of Farrand’s work and its antecedents in Europe and the United States.
In retirement Gail is happy to work again in her own garden and to read the wonderful collection of books on garden history from Florence’s and her own library.
Charles R. Bradberry (Texas)
A native of Center, TX, Charles Bradberry is a career educator and administrator. He served 28 years as a superintendent of schools and was Former Texas Superintendent of the Year. He graduated from the University of Wyoming and Stephen F. Austin University. Charles maintains his own three-acre garden at his home in Nacogdoches, Texas where he lives with his wife, Sharon. His love of gardening is best illustrated by his work as a dedicated volunteer at the Stephen F. Austin University Mast Arboretum in Nacogdoches. Like Thomas Jefferson, He considers himself a “young gardener.” For Charles, gardening has moved from a hobby to an obsession: “every day I get up excited about what’s in store for me today.” In 2019, Charles was appointed to fill the remaining one-year of Jeff Abt’s unexpired term. He has been an important part of the recent work of the Society’s scholarship & awards Committee.
Frances Carter (Florida)
Frances is a native Floridian, born in Miami, but grew up in Tallahassee. She practiced veterinary medicine for 30 years until selling her practice. Her own garden is a source of meditation and stress relief. She joined SGHS in 1995 when her mother-in-law, Annette Folsom, along with Weej Broderson and others were planning the annual meeting in Tallahassee in 1996. Her two daughters, Sara and Dixie, are also members of SGHS and are frequent attendees of annual meetings. Frances lives in the country outside of Tallahassee with her husband, three dogs, and a cat. Besides her garden, Frances is active with her church, serves as guardian ad litem, and is on the admissions committee for the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Florida.
Carla Foster (Texas)
Carla Foster, along with her husband Frank, have been active members of the Society since the early 1990s. Her interests in gardening and Southern garden history have come from her early career as an educator teaching Texas and American History. Joining Delta Airlines, Carla traveled and “experiencing history” at significant museums and gardens around the world. A licensed interior designer, Carla, with Frank have lived in six old houses and her biggest regret at each move, was leaving the gardens behind she helped design and create. She serves on the board of the Dallas Area Historical Rose Society, the Downs-Aldrich House, and Monroe-Crook House, historic house museums in Crockett, Texas. Carla and Frank have three daughters and several grandchildren.
Robert Hicks (Tennessee)
Robert Hicks was born and raised in South Florida. He moved to Williamson County, Tennessee in 1974 and lives near the Bingham Community at “Labor in Vain,” his late-eighteenth-century log cabin. Working over the years as a music publisher and in artist management in both country and alternative-rock music, Hicks’ interests have remained varied. is the author of The New York Times Bestseller The Widow of the South and has played a major role in preserving the historic Carnton mansion, a focal point in the Battle of Franklin. A lifelong collector, Hicks was the first Tennessean to be listed among Art & Antiques’ Top 100 Collectors in America—his collection focuses on outsider art by artists such as Howard Finster and B. F. Perkins, Tennesseana, and Southern material culture. In the field of historic preservation, he has served on the boards of the Tennessee State Museum, The Williamson County Historical Society, and the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts in Winston-Salem, NC. He presently serves on the board of directors of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans and the Historic Carnton Plantation in Franklin, TN. He is founding chairman emeritus of “Franklin’s Charge: A Vision and Campaign for the Preservation of Historic Open Space” in the fight to secure and preserve both battlefield and other historic open space in Williamson County. Franklin’s Charge took on the massive mission of saving what remains of the eastern flank of the battlefield at Franklin—the largest remaining undeveloped fragment of the battlefield—and turning it into a public battlefield park. Robert helped with the Society’s annual meeting in Nashville in 2015.
Adam Martin (Georgia)
Adam Martin developed his interest in gardening and garden history through the work of his paternal grandmother and her use of Southern heirloom plants in her Georgia garden. A graduate of Kennesaw State University, Adam received a master’s degree in historic preservation from the University of Georgia. His thesis explored if and how Americans have deliberately and indirectly preserved geophytes since 1900. His research included a detailed study of nursery catalogs, historic letters, and market bulletins. Heirloom plants and preserving historic plants remain a strong interest which he pursues as a volunteer with Historic Oakland Cemetery and as a member of the Georgia Daffodil Society. In 2014, Adam received a scholarship to attend the Savannah Annual Meeting and has been a faithful member of the Society. Adam has also generously taken on the additional role as Digital Media Director for SGHS.
Peggy Singlemann (Virginia)
Peggy is the director of park operations and horticulture at the Maymont Foundation in Richmond, VA. A native of the suburbs of New York City, Peggy graduated from the State University of New York at Cobleskill with a degree in horticulture and greenhouse management. She is a certified horticulturist, certified landscape designer, and a certified arborist. Peggy is the host of central Virginia’s monthly PBS gardening show, Virginia Home Grown. In 2016, the Virginia Nursery and Landscape Association recognized her as the Professional of the Year. In addition to her long-time membership with the SGHS, Peggy is also a member of the American Public Garden Association, Central Virginia Nursery and Landscape Association, and the Virginia Native Plant Society. She enjoys gardening at home. Peggy is married to Doug, they have two daughters, two sons-in-law, and three grandchildren.
Derek Wade (South Carolina)
A native of Muskegon, Michigan, Derek grew up in Charleston, SC. He graduated from the University of Kentucky with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. From 1991-2018, Derek was the owner of Carolina Landscape, Inc., a design/build residential landscape contracting company in Charleston, SC. His father was one of the founders of the business in 1958. Derek currently does free-lance landscape design work in the metro Charleston area. He is a member and past Board member of the Charleston Horticultural Society. Derek is a certified nurseryman and is a master rain gardener through Clemson University. His current professional journey is learning the best way to incorporate natives in the formal landscape and to create better habitat for birds and pollinators in his clients’ gardens. A member of the Society since the Savannah meeting in 2014, Derek and his wife, Kathy, have attended many subsequent annual meetings. They have two adult children, a son Mason, and daughter Aubrey, who compete with the family’s three-year-old Blue Heeler, Ryder.