THE ANNE SPENCER GARDEN
The restoration of Anne Spencer's garden was adopted as a project by Hillside Garden Club in September 1983. The original garden, with its young shrubs and trees, was an open, sunny garden with masses of flowers and grass paths. To reproduce this after years of growth was not possible or practical. However, the garden framework is authentic, as substantiated by the many old photographs and family memories, and effectively captures the spirit of the garden from the late 1930s. Many of the bulbs, flowers, and shrubs and all of the roses are Anne Spencer's own plants. Additional flowers were shared by garden club members from their own gardens. The first restoration was substantially completed by June 1984 and received statewide recognition in 1987 with the Common Wealth Award from the Garden Club of Virginia. With the publication of the story of the garden restoration in the national magazine, The American Horticulturist (October 1987), the garden became a nationally recognized rehabilitation effort.
By 2007, it became necessary to replace some of the garden structures that had deteriorated over the 25-year period since the first restoration. Hillside Garden Club again assumed the responsibility for a second major restoration of the arbor, pergola, and for the first time, the pond, this time using much more accurate replicas of the structures, and painting them the original, colorful robin's egg blue. This effort resulted in the Garden Club of Virginia awarding its Common Wealth Award for a second time in 2009. International recognition followed with praise for the restoration in the British publication Historic Gardens Review in its Summer 2011 issue. Through the years, the garden has been featured in many other magazines, such as Southern Living (October 1986 and April 1994), Historic Preservation (May/June 1994), Victoria (April, 1996), Garden Design (July/August 2005), and Country Gardens (Spring 2005).
Hillside Garden Club and the Anne Spencer House and Garden Museum, Inc., have benefited from the guidance and preservation assistance of The Garden Conservancy. The 28-year-long story of the restoration and maintenance of the historic garden is documented and lavishly illustrated in Jane Baber White's book, Lessons Learned from a Poet's Garden (2011). The award-winning book, Half My World (2003), by Rebecca Frischkorn and Reuben Rainey, explores the history and design of the garden and its influence on her work as a poet. Both books are highly recommended for additional information on the garden. (See Gift Shop)
Contributed by Jane B. White
1313 Pierce Street • Lynchburg, Virginia 24501 • 434-845-1313 • The Garden Conservancy provides preservation assistance to the Anne Spencer garden