Celebrating International Women’s Day with GC Women of Note
International Women’s Day, or IWD, is a day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women all over the world. Garden Collage is an entirely-women run company, and in our work we are constantly driven to support, endorse, and improve the creative and culturally-important work of the women around us– both those we know personally and the icons that continue to inspire us.
In the world of gardening, design, and wellness, there are a number of undeniably important figures in our line of work– among them Michelle Obama, Environmentalist Wangari Maathai, Jane Goodall, Alice Waters, Hillary Clinton, Gwyneth Paltrow, Oprah Winfrey, Martha Stewart, Rachel Carson, and countless other women, both living and dead, whose work we continue to admire and propagate.
In honor of #IWD2016, we put together a list of several women we hold in high regard, as well as a short compendium of resources about them– bios, interesting articles, links to interviews we found particularly enlightening, and in some instances more information about our own coverage of each icon. This list is by no means complete, but we feel it’s important to tell the story of these women over and over, every day, as it seems the best way to honor the enduring value of their work and what they have given to society– yesterday, today, and for many years to come.
The First Lady of the United States continues to impress us with the tireless work she has put towards establishing the White House Kitchen Garden and the many efforts she has initiated to address the nation-wide childhood obesity epidemic with programs that aim to improve kids’ health.
Rachel Carson was one of the first vocal female environmentalists in the United States. As the author of the watershed classic Silent Spring, she is often referred to as a hero in conservation circles because of her courageous, pioneering indictment of the chemical industry and her unwavering efforts to preserve fragile coastal estuaries.
The actress, health activist, and GOOP founder was a pioneer in the exactly the kind of natural living and lifestyle that has overtaken the beauty and wellness industry in 2016. Paltrow’s new skincare line, Goop Beauty, is one of our most-anticipated plant-based beauty lines this year.
Better Midler, the actress and singer best known for The Rose and First Wives Club, founded The New York Restoration Club in 1995. The non-profit endeavors to make beautiful green spaces spaces accessible to all New Yorkers by renovating public gardens and parks with private resources.
Dame Anita Roddick
British businesswoman Dame Anita Roddick founded The Body Shop in 1976 to make a livelihood for herself and her daughters. Her plant-based products were developed through her interactions with women across the world, and the company has maintained a commitment to protecting its people and our planet for forty years.
Professor Wangari Maathai
Wangari Maathai, the Kenyan environmentalist and activist, began The Green Belt Movement in 1977, initially to respond to the difficulties facing rural Kenyan women. The project evolved to encourage community empowerment in pursuit of a greener, cleaner world through advocacy and restoration.
Though known for her many media ventures, cultural titan Oprah Winfrey recently transformed 16 acres of her Maui estate into a farm, in attempt to reverse the standard of importing food to island. The farm currently grows 100 species of vegetables, fruits, and herbs, most of which is donated and distributed across the island.
Anne-Claude Leflaive was a celebrated winemaker and pioneer in biodynamic viticulture– the art and science of making wine. Perhaps best know for presiding over one of the most celebrated white wine estates in Burgundy (and for pushing the boundaries of environmentally-sensitive farming), Leflaive was once considered the best white wine maker in the world. Under her helm, Le Montrachet vineyard came to purvey what are now considered some of the best white wines in France.
At the helm of a home improvement empire, Martha Stewart often incorporates nature and the environment into her work. She is known for her accessible, plant oriented crafts and recipes that incorporate fresh, whole ingredients.
Though she has also balanced an impressive political and scholarly career, Arianna Huffington is best know as the co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post. Today, the media outlet runs several environmentally oriented channels, including their nature section and green category.
What began as a wasteland in 1960 has transformed into an educational, inspiration garden under the nurturing guidance of gardening guru Beth Chatto. The garden’s accompanying nursery carries 2,000 plants and Chatto has been recognized by numerous international organizations for her work with plant ecology and garden design.
Prolific author and self-taught garden designer Rosemary Verey was known for her classic, English country style, and for popularizing the ornamental kitchen garden. During her life she was in high demand (at one point working for the Prince of Whales) and her legacy lives on at the Barnsley House.
Wellness activist Kris Carr was first diagnosed with a rare stage 4 cancer in 2003. Her bleak prognosis prompted her to live her healthiest, fullest life. Today a survivor of cancer, she advocates for self-care and a plant based diet through her Crazy, Sexy series of books and films. Her latest book, Crazy, Sexy Juice, was released in 2015.
Penelope Hobhouse, British garden writer and television presenter, has made a name for herself as an expert in the realm of classic gardens–having designed gardens for Elizabeth the Queen Mother and Steve Jobs.
Though only a few of her works survive today (among them Dumbarton Oaks), Beatrix Ferrand was a famed landscape architect during the first half of the 20th century. Her work forged new pathways for women in the realm of landscaping: at the very outset of her career, she was the only woman among the founders of the American Society of Landscape Architects.
Farm to table pioneer Alice Waters first earned renowned for her organic, locally sourced restaurant Chez Panisse. In 1996, she founded the Edible Schoolyard and has since become a high-profile advocate for implementing edible education programs and green spaces in schools.
Iconic landscape architect of the 20th century Martha Schwartz defies the precepts of conventional garden design. Schwartz frequently uses plastic and stone in her work, and focuses on urban landscapes. Her most prominent work is the Jacob Javits Convention Center Plaza in New York.
London-born Gertrude Jekyll is one of the most famed landscape architects of all time. Though she died in 1932, her written works are still heavily relied upon by gardeners today as immense resources. Her legacy lives on in the 400 gardens she designed across Europe and America and in the Arts & Crafts movement.
Vita Sackville West
English poet and garden designer Vita Sackville West (the muse behind Virginia Woolfe’s Orlando: A Biography) established the famous gardens at Sissinghurst Castle with her husband in the 1930s. Today, under the care of the National Trust, they are among the most famous English gardens.
Historian and lecturer Judith Tankard has published nine illustrated books on the history of landscapes, as well as numerous articles and book reviews. Her classic Gertrude Jekyll at Mustead Wood was rereleased last year with new photography.
Time’s Person of the Year Angela Merkel began her career as the Minister for Women and Youth, before serving as the Minister for the Environment from 1994 to 1998. As the German Chancellor, she has pushed for a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions among other developed nations.
Best known as the force behind the immensely popular fashion website Man Repeller, Leandra Medine is a vocal feminist whose unapologetic style is an inspiration both in fashion and in life.
Christiane Amanpour is one of the most celebrated journalists in international affairs, with more follows from world leaders on twitter than any other media icon. As the Chief International Correspondent for CNN and host of CNN International’s award-winning interview show “Amanpour”, her fearlessness in the face of global quandary makes her an ideal role model for anyone interested in storytelling, as she continues to ask questions that others are afraid to address.
Ruth Bader Ginsberg
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg spent years facing adversity and breaking legal ground for women vis-a-vis her 1994 appointment to the Supreme Court under President Bill Clinton. Now serving the country at 82 years old, Ginsberg was the second woman to be appointed the position (the first was Sandra Day O’Connor). Today, she continues to impress us with the visionary approach to justice she has put in practice since graduating from Columbia Law School in 1959.
Perhaps best known as the writer and creator of the hit HBO show “Girls”, Lena Dunham is a pioneering thought leader in the world of gender politics. Revered for her wit and the smart, celebratory way that her feminism informs what she chooses to depict on screen, she told Alec Baldwin in 2013 that she thought she’d be “a Gender and Women’s Studies teacher who showed movies at the occasional film festival.”
Lady Bird Johnson
Former First Lady of the United States Lady Bird Johnson is the reason that it is now illegal to throw garbage out of a car window on a freeway. As a longtime environmental activist and steward of natural resources, Lady Bird Johnson was a key proponent of some of the biggest environmental legislation passed in the United States in the 1970’s, which earned her the nickname “Our Environmental First Lady”. Today, Austin’s incredible Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center pays tribute to her love of flowers, Texas, and native landscapes.
Mary Helen Bowers
Ballet Beautiful-founder Mary Helen Bowers exercises huge influence over the wellness sphere in New York City. As a trainer to everyone from Natalie Portman to Karlie Kloss, she has made a new kind of poise-induced exercise available to legions of stressed out New Yorkers– and she’s also a loyal patron of Farmers Markets and Parks around the city! The GC Staff are big fans of her wellness regime, but we also love how she styles her photos– mimicking in her poses the grace and supreme beauty of a flower (often while holding flowers).
Dame Jane Morris Goodall is a renowned British anthropologist and primatologist most famous for her pioneering 55-year study with Tanzanian chimpanzees. As founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and the Roots & Shoots program, she continues to advocate for environmental conservation and animal welfare world-wide.
As perhaps the most visible pop star in the music industry right now, Taylor Swift in 2016 is akin to Michael Jackson in 1984– her unique combination of celebrity power and creative pull makes her a formidable force on the Pop charts. This year, Swift became the first woman to win the Grammy for Album of the Year, twice.
First Lady of the United States; Senator; Secretary of State; hair icon. Much has been written about Hillary Clinton at this stage in history, but it appears there’s even more to come. As a front-runner in this year’s early presidential primaries, Clinton is currently the only (potential) female candidate in America’s male-dominated political landscape. As a vocal advocate for women’s rights, she recently tweeted, “Advancing the status of women and girls makes economies grow and nations more secure. It’s the right—and smart—thing to do.” We couldn’t agree more.
Interested in International Women’s Day? Make a #PledgeForParity and help women and girls achieve their ambitions, challenge conscious and unconscious bias, call for gender-balanced leadership, value women and men’s contributions equally, and create inclusive, flexible cultures the world over. Find more information on how you can be part of a global movement to achieve these goals by visiting the IWD website.