American Public Gardens Association’s virtual stamp celebration
By Molly Goad
The American Public Gardens Association hosted a virtual celebration May 14 for the 10 United States American Gardens commemorative stamps issued the day before.
Casey Sclar, executive director of the association, moderated a webinar that consisted of an introduction from the U.S. Postal Service's Pat Mendonca, video clips from six of the 10 gardens featured on the stamps and a brief Q&A.
The gardens on the stamps, based on photos by Allen Rokach taken from 1996 to 2014, span 10 different states. Online attendees received a glimpse into many of the scenes depicted on the stamps.
During the virtual presentation, Leslie Findlen, vice president of development and membership at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, was standing in the historic Osborne Garden, which was built in the 1930s and is the subject of one of the American Gardens stamps.
“I love this garden for its intimacy and elegance,” she said.
Fred Spicer, executive vice president and director of the Chicago Botanic Garden, stood near the lantern featured on the stamp honoring that garden. The Japanese garden pictured on the stamp is one of 27 gardens on display at the Glencoe, Ill., site.
Michael Desplaines, Norfolk Botanical Garden president and CEO, greeted viewers from the rose garden — one of the largest on the East Coast. He said nature has been an inspiration through its beauty, healing power and nourishment through food.
“We encourage everyone to get out, go forth, and plant a better world,” he said.
Also on hand were videos from Carol Cadou, director and chief executive officer of Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library in Wilmington, Del.; John Trager, curator of the Desert Collections at the Huntington Botanical Gardens in San Marino, Calif.; and Jonathan Kavalier, director of Dumbarton Oaks in the historic Georgetown neighborhood in Washington, D.C.
Sclar also facilitated a live Q&A session with panelists from the USPS and some of the gardens.
The Postal Service’s Bill Gicker was asked how the committee selected the 10 gardens that appear on the stamps.
“It’s impossible to include everything ... so we look at stamps that visually work together to tell the story,” he said. He added that most of the places featured on the stamps are in the eastern part of the United States.
The panelists were asked their thoughts on the significance of being selected as a stamp in this series.
“It’s incredible because it’s so hard to get on a stamp,” Desplaines said, adding that it’s an honor reserved for great Americans who have passed away, or monumental moments in history. “We were elated when we found out we are on one.”
Dumbarton Oaks’ Thaisa Way added that when the designs were chosen, she and her colleagues didn’t know the stamps would be issued during a pandemic. But this time has been “great to bring us together,” she said.
“Public gardens are healing spaces,” Kavalier said during his video clip. “We are preparing for the day when we can welcome people back to the garden.”
Sclar was asked which garden is his favorite — a question he receives often. Although he couldn’t pick one, he cited gardens’ importance to their surroundings.
“Each one does something incredible and unique for its community,” Sclar said.
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