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Garden History & Design Committee Celebrates Milestone Anniversary


January 19, 2023

35 years partnering with the Smithsonian Archives of American Gardens

For the past thirty-five years, The Garden Club of America has partnered with the staff of the Smithsonian Archives of American Gardens (AAG) to document American gardens. When the GCA’s Garden History & Design (GH&D) Committee convened last fall in Washington D.C. for their quarterly meeting, they honored this milestone anniversary. 

A highlight was the dinner hosted by the Smithsonian Gardens at the Smithsonian’s beautiful Freer Gallery. Invited guests included past GH&D chairs as well as past GH&D committee members who had been unable to meet in Washington D.C. for the last three years due to Covid restrictions. 

At the core of the Archives of American Gardens is a collection of over 3,000 glass lantern slides and approximately 35,000 35mm slides that were donated to the Smithsonian by The Garden Club of America in 1992. For example, see the hand-painted lantern slide of the patio at El Mirasol, a distinguished Palm Beach, Florida mansion, c.1930, shown here.

The GH&D Committee along with the national network of GCA clubs continues to expand the collection by photographing and documenting scores of gardens each year. This diverse range of images addresses countless design choices, environmental conditions, and site challenges. The GCA and AAG’s vast documentation effort is necessary to capture as much as possible about American gardens. It illustrates how America’s garden story has evolved over time: today, for example, many garden design choices are based on environmental factors and sustainable practices not considered in the past. 


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