Wednesday, September 21, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon
Dewey Gotwald Center
Free of charge, limited seating

Life, Legacy and Garden of Anne Spencer

Shaun Spencer-Hester, honorary member of Hillside Garden Club is the Executive Director and Curator of the Anne Spencer House and Garden Museum in Lynchburg, Virginia. Her presentation will provide insight into the life, legacy and garden of her grandmother, Anne Spencer, an internationally recognized African-American poet of the Harlem Renaissance period.

Anne Spencer created a true “gardener’s garden” over the course of her lifetime. It inspired her poetry and served as a refuge during the troubled, segregated times in which she lived and wrote. Shaun oversees the day-to-day operations of The Anne Spencer House & Garden in Lynchburg. She has curated the collection of furnishings, textiles, artwork, collectibles and antiques that remained in the home at Anne’s death in 1975. 

An amateur horticulturist and landscape designer with a talent for garden structure and plant selection, Anne Spencer once described her Lynchburg garden as “half my world.” She was the first Virginian and first African American to have her poetry included in the Norton Anthology of American Poetry. Anne and her husband made their home a center of community activity. The Spencer property, once frequented by such notables as George Washington Carver, Langston Hughes, Thurgood Marshall and W.E.B. DuBois, is a Virginia Historic Landmark and is included in the National Register of Historic Places.

Gallery photos credit Roger Foley.

Judged Exhibits



Artistic Design

Events & Activities

Dr. Matthew Borden

Plant pathologist at the Bartlett Tree Experts Research Laboratories in Charlotte, NC.

Sherryl Belinsky

Award-winning photographer focuses on flowers in the garden.

Bryan F. Peterson

Award winning photographer, author and co-founder of The Bryan Peterson School of Photography.

Emilie Carter, ASLA

Landscape architect with Phyto Studio who focuses on creating ecologically-functional landscapes.

Shaun Spencer-Hester

Executive director and curator of the Anne Spencer House and Garden Museum

“Mix it Up” Cocktail Party

Botanical-inspired adult beverages surrounded by blooms of the late-season garden.

Robert Llewellyn

Award-winning photographer introduces the world of micro-photography.

Thomas Woltz, FASLA

Acclaimed landscape architect addresses social and ecological sustainability in designed landscapes.

Francoise Weeks

Innovative haute couture creations and woodland designs made with foraged plant materials and flowers.


Day One

Day One of the Symposium features presentations by acclaimed artistic designer Francoise Weeks, landscape architect Emilie Carter, ASLA, of Phyto Studio, and pre-recorded presentations by photographers Sherryl Belinsky and Bryan F. Peterson. Spectacular artistic design, horticulture and photography exhibits take center stage upon conclusion of judging, and a botanical cocktail mixology event provides a perfect ending to the day.

  • September 20, Tuesday
  • 11 a.m to 7 p.m

Day Two

Day Two events include presentations and discussions by landscape architect Thomas Woltz, FASLA, plant pathologist Matthew Borden, DPM, of Bartlett Tree Experts, Director and Curator of the Anne Spencer House and Garden Museum Shaun Spencer-Hester and photographer Robert Llewellyn. Visitors will also have another opportunity to view the artistic design, horticulture and photography exhibits.

  • September 21, Wednesday
  • 9:30 a.m to 2:00 p.m

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