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

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 at a reception of donors, dignitaries, horticulturists, River Farm friends and AHS Board members and staff. The wonderful new garden addition enhances River Farm’s 25 acres of scenic landscape along the Potomac River. 

The new garden addition enhances River Farm’s 25 acres of natural beauty and scenic landscape along the Potomac River.


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.”

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: 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).

“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,” said Suzanne Laporte, President of the AHS.
Founded in 1922, the non-profit American Horticultural Society is headquartered at River Farm, a 25-acre site overlooking the Potomac River that is part of George Washington’s original farmlands in Alexandria, Virginia. www.ahsgardening.org