20th CONFERENCE ON RESTORING SOUTHERN GARDENS AND LANDSCAPES

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20th CONFERENCE ON RESTORING SOUTHERN GARDENS AND LANDSCAPES

By Phil Archer, Director of Public Programs | @LearnReynolda

Landscape architects are always being told to “garden as if you will live forever.” They must imagine how their completed designs will grow and decay, through wet seasons and dry, through periods of careful tending and careless, and plan today for the joyful contemplation of a visitor one hundred years hence, whose steps will be shaded by the long-stretching limbs of the seedling leaning feebly today against a supporting stake.

The biennial Restoring Southern Gardens and Landscapes Conference celebrates the preservation of natural sites providing pleasure, sustenance, and inspiration to the people of the South -- past, present, and future. Founded in 1979, the conference will be presented at Old Salem Museums and Gardens on October 1-3, 2015. Co-sponsored by Old Salem, the Southern Garden History Society, and Reynolda House, this year’s conference will explore prominent themes in the Southern landscape of our time: Seed Saving and Heirloom Gardening; Pen, Brush & Lens: Art in the Garden; The African American Landscape & Garden; or Restoring the Early 20th-Century Southern Landscape.. You can register here for the entire conference, or choose individual sessions that interest you: There will be opportunities to tour beautiful gardens of Old Salem and Reynolda, enjoy music on Old Salem’s Tannenberg organ, savor a traditional African American dinner on the grounds of St. Philips Church, and even help to plant heirloom Southern apple trees in the historic Vogler lot in Old Salem.

A few picks for the conference:

  • Garden historian Judith Tankard’s talk about Ellen Biddle Shipman, one of America’s greatest designers and the artist behind gardens created for the Fords, DuPonts, and Haneses of Winston-Salem;
  • Michael Twitty, culinary historian of African and African American foodways, on reconstructing gardens of the enslaved. He is the only historian I’ve witnessed prepare a complete vegetable stew while giving a complex and entertaining talk about the origins and cultural evolution of Southern foods and dishes;
  • A talk about Flora Ann Bynum, founder of the landscape conference. Peggy Cornett, curator of plants at Monticello, will talk about Bynum’s role as chair of the Old Salem Landscape Restoration Committee for 30 years. Flora Ann Bynum’s horticultural research was instrumental in the restoration of Old Salem's landscape and her vision and energy contributed to the restorations of landscapes throughout the South.
  • The opening day of Reynolda House’s exhibition The Artist’s Garden: American Impressionism and the Garden Movement, 1887-1920. This was the time when the artistic revolution of French Impressionism coincided with a renaissance of gardening in the United States. Among the glories of the Garden Movement are the Reynolda Estate, the landscape designs of Beatrix Farrand and Ellen Biddle Shipman (including several celebrated gardens in Winston-Salem), and this collection of paintings from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. In these paintings “the earth laughs in flowers,” and those bright colors and textures live as brightly in 2015 as when they were painted over a century ago.

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