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River Farm Unveils New Native Garden: Clara B. Plein Memorial Garden

The Clara B. Plein Memorial Garden features 2,400 individual plants across 30 species, consisting of 68% native plants and 32% native cultivars. Plants were selected for their ability to support pollinators, create habitat, improve air and soil quality, and provide food for humans and wildlife.

ALEXANDRIA, VA  – A new garden showcasing native plants in a traditional Virginia landscape setting now resides at River Farm, headquarters of the American Horticultural Society (AHS). Inspired by the backyard of a beloved gardener, the Clara B. Plein Memorial Garden was unveiled on June 7 with a warm reception of notable donors, dignitaries, horticulturists, River Farm friends, and AHS Board members and staff. The wonderful new garden addition enhances River Farm’s 25 acres of natural beauty and scenic landscape along the Potomac River.

The Clara B. Plein Memorial Garden reflects the collaborative achievement and generous support of multiple landscaping and nursery companies from across the region. Attendees at the dedication ceremony included: Matt Zuccari (Ruppert), Sophia Ciallela (Ruppert), Cole Stoy (Ruppert), Scott Plein (White House Farm Foundation and American Horticultural Society), Joan Honeyman (Jordan Honeyman Landscape Architecture), Kris Alvarez (KT Enterprises), Matt Teese (South Riding Nurseries), and Matt Deivert (South Riding Nurseries)

Inspired by her grandson, Scott Plein, Chair of the AHS Board of Directors, in partnership with numerous horticultural companies and experts, the Clara B. Plein Memorial Garden features 2,400 individual plants across 30 species, consisting of 68% native plants and 32% native cultivars. Plants were selected for their ability to support pollinators, create habitat, improve air and soil quality, and provide food for humans and wildlife.

Says Scott Plein, “The Memorial Garden is a tremendous palette of plantings that is definitive of both our cultural and natural past. It pays homage to River Farm’s wondrous history as part of George Washington’s original farmland and exemplifies the AHS’s focus on best gardening practices.”

The Plein Family (left to right): Stewart Plein, Chris Plein, Zaidee Plein, Paul Plein, Scott Plein, Jacqueline Plein, and Mark Plein
Inspired by the backyard of a beloved gardener, the Clara B. Plein Memorial Garden was unveiled on June 7 with a warm reception of notable donors, dignitaries, horticulturists, River Farm friends, and AHS Board members and staff.

A showcase for horticultural excellence, the garden’s layout was thoughtfully planned around the preservation of existing large trees and five distinct planting areas: woodland deciduous azalea and viburnum plantings, wood’s edge plants, meadow, shrubs and edible garden, and shade garden. Plantings are layered to provide year-round interest through varied colors, textures, and structures.

The Clara B. Plein Memorial Garden reflects the collaborative achievement and generous support of multiple landscaping and nursery companies from across the region, as well as funding from the White House Farm Foundation. The following 15 companies leveraged their landscape design and installation capabilities, and generous funding, to transform the area into a vibrant, ecologically-minded oasis that will be enjoyed by visitors for years to come.

Scott Plein, Chair of the AHS Board of Directors, made a toast and cut the ribbon to celebrate the garden that is dedicated to his beloved grandmother.
  • Ruppert Landscaping – Installation
  • KT Enterprises – Donation Procurement & Project Coordination
  • South Riding Nurseries – Delivery Support
  • Jordan Honeyman Landscape Architecture – Landscape Design
  • Babikow Nursery (Baltimore, MD)
  • David’s Nursery (Exmore, VA)
  • Hanover Farms Nursery (Rockville, VA)
  • Ingleside Nurseries (Colonial Beach, VA)
  • Kurt Bluemel Nursery (Baldwin, MD)
  • Riverbend Nursery (Riner, VA)
  • Sandy’s Plants (Mechanicsville, VA)
  • Saunders Brothers Nursery (Piney River, VA)
  • The Perennial Farm (Glen Arm, MD)
  • White House Farm Foundation (Bristow, VA)
  • Willoway Nurseries (Avon, OH)

“We are thrilled to have played a role in bringing this inspiring vision to life,” says Sophia Ciallella, Regional Landscape Designer at Ruppert. “Our goal was to support the American Horticultural Society’s mission by creating a stunning greenspace that will serve as a beacon of sustainability, beautification, and ecological restoration in a region rediscovering natural heritage. We are honored to have contributed our expertise and are excited to continue providing dedicated landscape management for River Farm, a neighborhood and national treasure.”

The wonderful new garden addition enhances River Farm’s 25 acres of natural beauty and scenic landscape along the Potomac River.
A new garden showcasing native plants in a traditional Virginia landscape setting now resides at River Farm, headquarters of the American Horticultural Society.

“This stunning new garden showcases how Virginia’s gardening legacy can inspire landscapes that are not only visually captivating, but also resilient and environmentally conscious, requiring less maintenance,” says Suzanne Laporte, President of the AHS. “We are proud to have the Clara B. Plein Memorial Garden as part of the rich horticultural experiences available at River Farm.”

About the American Horticultural Society
Founded in 1922, the non-profit American Horticultural Society (AHS) is one of the most respected and longstanding member-based national gardening organizations in North America. The Society’s membership includes more than 22,000 aspiring, new, and experienced gardeners, plant enthusiasts, and horticultural professionals, as well as numerous regional and national partner organizations. Through its educational programs, awards, and publications, the AHS inspires a culture of gardening and horticultural practices that creates and sustains healthy, beautiful communities and a livable planet. AHS is headquartered at River Farm, 25-acre site overlooking the Potomac River that is part of George Washington’s original farmlands in Alexandria, Virginia. www.ahsgardening.org

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