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  • Writer's pictureCat Meholic

American Public Gardens Association

In June of 2017, Women in Horticulture crossed country lines to Hamilton, Ontario. We were there to run a session titled, you guessed it, "Women in Horticulture." Rachel Burlington submitted the proposal to the Association, and worked with our contact there to solidify the itinerary and ensure a sponsor, Stihl!

Rachel and I were excited to engage women in horticulture at the national level. We were curious what other women were experiencing in their regions, and what they thought of our model. We discussed the content of the session any chance we met, and divided the tasks: I would highlight a local historic woman in horticulture, Lady Dalhousie (you'll see her name a lot on this site), and she would recap what Women in Hort has been up to since its creation. We'd then break out into group discussions, and recruited some assistants to run these groups.

I think our nerves must have gotten the best of us, as I introduced our sponsor incorrectly, and we didn't transition well between the segments of our presentation. We lost track of time, and there was a misunderstanding with the room monitor about what time we actually ended. This resulted in rushed conversation and an abrupt, chaotic closing to our session. Not a good way to present Women in Horticulture to the national stage!

But, Rachel and I learned a lot about how to run a session, and there was valuable conversation among the attendees that kept going beyond our session. Lady Dalhousie, a plant collector that donated her herbarium collection to the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington, Canada had her story told. When Lady Dalhousie's voucher specimen was displayed on the tour of the herbarium later that day, attendees were able to more fully understand her contributions.

As for the modern women in hort that attended our session? From the responses we got from the session we did have a positive impact. Events are also popping up here and there across the country; a panel discussion in New Jersey, a "Heroines in Horticulture" class and tour at Longwood, a Women in Hort Happy Hour in Portland, Oregon. Can we take the credit for all of these wonderful events? Obviously, not, but it is nice to think perhaps we helped inspire some of these, and are overjoyed that women in horticulture are getting their stories told, their histories highlighted, and have a network of individuals to support them.

The Willamette Valley, OR Women in Horticulture Happy Hour!

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