Greenery of Spring Celebrated at River Farm in Mount Vernon

Greenery of Spring Celebrated at River Farm in Mount Vernon

Plant extravaganza set for the second weekend in April.

Plant fair coming at River Farm

Plant fair coming at River Farm

After all the uncertainty in the last few years about the future of River Farm, the property returns to its formidable place on the Mount Vernon landscape. River Farm is hosting the Spring Garden Market at River Farm April 8-9. From 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. each day, over 40 vendors will offer a large selection of plants, including vegetable seedlings, natives, and pollinator plants for area gardeners.

“This is a great opportunity to support local growers and shop for some terrific plants you won’t find other places,” says Susan Klejst, Vice President of Development at the American Horticultural Society.

Both days, garden art, tools, books, and other horticultural accessories will be available, and Master Gardeners will be on hand to answer gardening questions. The event will offer more than just plants though. The Spring Garden Market includes an array of nature-themed artists and garden products vendors. It is a fun-filled community event but also an important fundraiser to help sustain and support the stewardship of historic River Farm. All proceeds raised during this event help maintain and enhance the display gardens for the enjoyment and enrichment of the community. Guests will have access to a limited selection of carts and wagons for toting purchases but are encouraged to bring their own. Parking is $20 per car; waived for AHS members showing a current membership card or other proof of membership. Non-members can apply this fee toward a new membership during the event.

Conflict Over Sale

The past year has been stressful for River Farm and its owner, the American Horticultural Society, which runs operations out of the historic property. With the onset of the pandemic, the AHS board said it needed money and they put the property up for sale. The AHS were asking $32.9 million, and got an offer from NOVA Parks, Northern Virginia Conservation Trust, and their partners but it was short of the asking price. The horticultural society pushed forward and listed the property for sale with local agent Sue Goodhart of Compass Real Estate Group in Alexandria, who called it a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to own 27 plus acres of riverfront property in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. … Imagine owning an estate renowned for its unobstructed views of the Potomac River and impeccably maintained gardens,” the listing stated.

Residents and AHS volunteers raised the alarm, and elected officials stepped in. AHS board members opposed to the sale wrested control of the divided board and the property was saved. Several AHS board members stepped.


Steeped in History

The location of River Farm is tempting to those in the real estate world because of the river views and open fields. It’s just off the George Washington Memorial Parkway, and the ownership started with Giles Brent Jr., and his wife, a princess of the Piscataway tribe, who owned it in 1653 or 1654, the listing stated. Then George Washington bought it and made it part of his plantation. Malcolm Matheson bought the property in 1919 and remodeled the home, and in 1973, American Horticultural Society board member and philanthropist Enid Annenberg Haupt provided funds for the AHS to purchase the property. The grounds now house the offices of AHS and are used for weddings and events, as well as demonstration gardens. Sen. Scott Surrovell (D-36) was married at River Farm. Surovell, along with Sen. Adam Ebben, Del. Paul Krizek, Supervisor Dan Storck and many others, was part of the effort to save the farm from developers last year. 


For more information on the market, Welcome to Gardening Season – American Horticultural Society (