Cold Spring, New York
Award Type: Trustee Award
Founded just two decades ago as the nation's first nonprofit group dedicated to the preservation of exceptional gardens, the Garden Conservancy has already had a tremendous impact on the way Americans appreciate and preserve historic landscapes. The organization has invested nearly $9 million in the preservation of more than 90 important gardens and currently manages 16 major preservation projects across the nation. Three of the gardens under the Conservancy's care, including the sunken gardens and rose garden of Steepletop, the New York home of famed American poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, are National Historic Landmarks and nine are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Every year since 1995, the Conservancy's famed Open Days provide a rare opportunity to experience hundreds of gardens not usually available for public viewing. In addition, the Conservancy's lectures and symposia present new concepts and best practices in garden design, development and preservation, while volunteer opportunities and internships offer participants a chance to gain first-hand experience.
A focus of the Conservancy's efforts is working, sometimes over a period of many years, to develop master plans, establish sound financial practices and create interpretation programs to enable significant gardens to make the challenging transition from private ownership to public access. In addition, intensive preservation projects have saved and restored treasures as diverse as Longue Vue, a New Orleans garden devastated by Hurricane Katrina; the Japanese-style Humes Garden in New York State; and the long-lost gardens of Alcatraz Island in San Francisco.
"The Garden Conservancy is one of the first organizations in the country to recognize that important gardens are an essential part of our irreplaceable heritage – as much a part of the historic preservation landscape as buildings, birth sites and battlefields," said Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. "Equally important, this dedicated organization has encouraged us all to discover, enjoy and be inspired by some the nation's most beautiful places."