Garden Forum to Feature a Poet's Garden and US National Arboretum

     The Southside Master Gardener Association is presenting a Garden Forum on Saturday, November 2 at the South Boston - Halifax County Museum from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.  Highlighted are the plant protection program of the National Arboretum and the Garden of Harlem Renaissance Poet Anne Spencer.  The forum is free and open to the public but registration is required.

     First on the agenda is Kevin Conrad, Curator, Woody Landscape Plant Germplasm Repository, United States National Arboretum.  His job includes collecting and conserving genetic resources and associated information for a broad spectrum of woody landscape plants and transfer technology in the form of genetic resources and associated information to researchers and breeders worldwide.

     Kevin is involved in plant expeditions that target natural areas in the United States or other countries throughout the temperate world.  Over the last several years a primary objective was to gather seed and plant material from Fraxinus (ash) to support conservation of this genus because of the potential loss caused by the Emerald Ash Borer.  Come out and hear about Kevin's fascinating research and other ways the National Arboretum works for you.

"Being a Negro Woman is the world's most exciting game of 'Taboo':  By hell there is nothing you can do that you want to do and by heaven you are going to do it anyhow".

"Earth, I thank you for the pleasure of your language".

     These snippets from two of Anne Spencer's poems clearly show what had value in her life.  Born in 1882, she came to Lynchburg in 1893 where she was enrolled in Virginia Theological Seminary, now the Virginia University at Lynchburg.  She worked as the librarian of the all black Dunbar High School.  A fierce believer in equal rights for all, Anne helped found the Lynchburg chapter of the NAACP and served on various community committees to improve all aspects of the African-American life.

     Having to fight for equal rights Anne made her garden a respite from the trials of the world.  The garden inspired her poetry and she often gazed out from her office cottage, Edankraal, onto the beauty of nature.   She and her husband Edward had a special relationship.  Edward was Lynchburg's first parcel postman and he loved to work with his hands.  He designed and built their house on 1313  Pierce Street and also Edankraal, a combination of Edward and Anne and kraal, the Afrikaans word for enclosure or corral.  Soon their house and gardens became a salon for intellectual conversation with such notables as Langston Hughes, W.E.B. DuBois, Marian Anderson, Thurgood Marshall, Zora Neal Hurston, Mary McLeod Bethune, Adam Clayton Powell, George Washington Carver, H.L. Mencken, Amaza Lee Meredith, Gwendolyn Brooks, and the Rev. Martin Luther King.  The Spencer house and gardens are now on the National Register of Historic Places.  More information can be found a

     An exhibit of artifacts and photos of Anne's life and gardens will be on display until November 2nd at the South Boston - Halifax County Museum.  There is no chasrge to visit the exhibit and the museum is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  On November 2 you can also hear a lecture about Anne and her gardens and the subsequent restoration of the gardens by Jane Baber White.  Jane wrote "Lessons Learned from a Poet's Garden" with pcitures of Anne's life and some of her poetry.  Copies of the book will be available for $45 with a book signing to follow the lecture.  This would make a great Christmas gift with 100% of sales going to the Anne Spencer Endowment Fund.  Cash and checks are accepted.

     Jane Baber White was the Restoration Chairman, Director, and is now Director Emeritus of the Old City Cemetery, where she was responsible for raising over $1.5 million to fulfill her vision of reinvigorating the 200-year-old National Historic Landmark into Lynchburg's leading historic visitor destination.  It is now an arboretum of 19th century plants and includes five museums.  The cemetery is in its glory in May with hundreeds of old roses in bloom.

     The second project involved the restoration of Anne's charming garden.  This has been a 28-year journey with the help of the Hillside Garden Club and the Garden Conservancy.  Every effort has been made to recreate the garden and the garden structures as they were in Anne's time.  The fascinating garden has received international recognition, but is still a hidden jewel in Lynchburg.  Come out and hear Jane bring Anne's garden alive.

     There is no fee for the Garden Forum but registration is required.  To register or for more information call the Halifax Extension Office at 434-476-2147 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  visit the Master Gardener website for more information about the Master Gardener program and the upcoming Fridays with the Master Gardeners educational program.  An application to become a Master Gardener is also on the website.  The South Boston - Halifax County Museum is located at 1540 Wilborn Avenue in South Boston.