Claire Sawyers to Speak on Authentic Gardens at Adkins Arboretum

What makes a garden “authentic”? This question can be vexing for American gardeners. Learn how gardens can be rooted in and reflective of their surroundings when Claire Sawyers presents The Authentic Garden at Adkins Arboretum, Wed., May 20 at 3 p.m.

Because America is a fairly young nation that has not yet defined its own garden style, gardeners often turn to the styles of other nations for inspiration. The result of this stylistic borrowing is gardens that bear little relationship to local landscapes and history and that hold little connection to our daily lives. Sawyers shows how to reverse this tendency—how to create gardens that are rooted in their surroundings and satisfying to the gardeners who tend them. Drawing on her knowledge of a wide array of American and foreign gardens, she will identify the five principles that help instill a sense of authenticity and make a garden that is true to a specific time, place and culture, and that captures and reflects an authentic spirit so that the garden, in turn, nurtures the spirit of those who cherish and dwell in it.

Sawyers has been director of the Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College since 1990. She holds master’s degrees from both Purdue University and the University of Delaware, where she was a Longwood Fellow. She is an avid lecturer and has spoken at Arnold Arboretum, New York Botanical Garden, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Morris Arboretum, University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum and many others. The program is $10 for members, $15 for the general public.

Adkins Arboretum is a 400-acre native garden and preserve at the headwaters of the Tuckahoe Creek in Caroline County. Open year round, the Arboretum offers educational programs for all ages about nature and gardening. Through its Campaign to Build a Green Legacy, the Arboretum will build a new LEED-certified Arboretum Center and entranceway to broaden educational offerings and research initiatives promoting best practices in conservation and land stewardship. For additional information about Arboretum programs, visit or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.