Last Thursday evening, I photographed the American Horticultural Society’s (AHS) 2010 Great American Gardeners Awards Dinner, hosted by AHS at their River Farm headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia. The award descriptions and recipient bios are reprinted with permission from AHS.
H. MARC CATHEY AWARD
Recognizes outstanding scientific research that has enriched the field of horticulture. After earning a doctorate in genetics from Michigan State University in 1981, Robert J. Griesbach joined the Floral and Nursery Plants Research Unit within the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS). For more than 25 years, Griesbach conducted broad based research in the genetics of floral plants, aided in the creation of new types of floral crops, participated in the development of new genetic engineering technologies, and facilitated the determination of the genetic basis of flower and foliage colors. Currently Griesbach works in the USDA’s Office of Technology Transfer in Beltsville, Maryland, where he coordinates programs to facilitate the transfer of significant USDA-ARS research to the private sector for development and commercialization. Over the course of his career Griesbach has published more than 100 articles in scientific journals and 28 in other publications. In addition, he has presented more than 280 scientific seminars and nearly 200 lectures to popular audiences. He served as the chair of the American Orchid Society’s Research Committee for more than 10 years and is a past president of the organization. In 2006, Griesbach was named a Fellow by the American Society for Horticultural Science.
LANDSCAPE DESIGN AWARD
Given to an individual whose work has demonstrated and promoted the value of sound horticultural practices in the field of landscape architecture. A landscape architect based in Bar Harbor, Maine, Bruce John Riddell, is principal of his one-person firm, LandArt. Riddell received his undergraduate degree from the University of Maine and masters of landscape architecture from the University of Pennsylvania in 1986. While doing his graduate work, Bruce studied under the tutelage of notable practitioners such as Ian McHarg, Sir Peter Shepheard, the firm Andropogon Associates, and A.E. Bye. After graduation Riddell worked with James van Sweden and Wolfgang Oehme in Washington D.C. While at Oehme-Van Sweden he participated on high profile public projects—including the Smithsonian National Zoo and U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, and Battery Park in New York City—and on residential gardens for well-known clients such as Oprah Winfrey. Riddell’s primary focus is on the design and construction of intimate residential gardens, but has designed three public gardens in Maine—Southwest Harbor Veteran’s Park, Charlotte Rhoades Park, and the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens—all of which have won awards for design excellence. Riddell’s gardens typically combine native and naturalized plantings with site-specific elements such as gates, lights, fountains and stonework. In addition to his design work, Riddell is on the advisory board of the Beatrix Farrand Society and is ambassador-at-large for the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay. Do check out his website—his garden designs (and photography skills) are stunning!
Given to a public garden administrator whose achievements during the course of his or her career have cultivated widespread interest in horticulture. Eric Tschanz has been president and executive director of Powell Gardens in Kingsville, Missouri since 1988. During that time he has implemented the first three phases of the Gardens’ master plan. He just completed a more than $9 million development campaign and oversaw the construction of the new Heartland Harvest Garden—the largest edible landscape in the country. Tschanz’s horticultural career began with a summer job at Cox Arboretum in Dayton, Ohio. Captivated by the field of public horticulture, he went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in horticulture at the Ohio State University and then completed a master’s degree in Botanic Garden Management through the University of Delaware’s Longwood Graduate Program. After completing his degree, he returned to Cox Arboretum as horticultural superintendent. In 1982 he became the first director of the San Antonio Botanical Gardens. Since 1985, Eric has been an active member of American Public Gardens Association (APGA), serving on numerous professional committees and as a board member. In 1997 he became a member of the group’s executive committee, serving as vice president and then president. He spearheaded the development of the APGA’s Year 2000 strategic plan.
JANE L. TAYLOR AWARD
Given to an individual, organization, or program that has inspired and nurtured future horticulturists through efforts in children’s and youth gardening. Growin’ Gardeners is a hands-on, interactive program that inspires and nurtures young horticulturists and their families. The program is the centerpiece of the Dow Gardens Children’s Garden in Midland, Michigan. Through the program, families are assigned a four-by-four-foot plot in a raised bed around the Children’s Garden. Families have the opportunity to choose the vegetables and herbs they wish to grow. Through weekly lessons and a workbook, they learn the basics of plant growth, weed and insect control and the use of gardening tools. Children, parents, and grandparents work together to nurture and tend their garden from planting through harvest. Growin’ Gardeners, which began in 2003 with 10 garden plots and 34 participants, has grown under the leadership of Horticulturist Melissa Butkiewicz to include 84 garden plots and 270 participants.
LIBERTY HYDE BAILEY AWARD
Given to an individual who has made significant lifetime contributions to at least three of the following horticultural fields: teaching, research, communications, plant exploration, administration, art, business, and leadership. This year’s recipient of the AHS’s most prestigious award is Steven M. Still, a professor emeritus of horticulture at the Ohio State University (OSU) in Columbus and an internationally recognized expert and leader in the field of herbaceous perennial plants. Still began his teaching career while doing graduate work at the University of Illinois. After graduating in 1974 with a doctorate in horticulture, Still taught horticulture at Kansas State University in Manhattan for five years before moving to OSU, where he taught and mentored thousands of horticulture students from 1979 to 2005. In addition to his teaching duties he conducted horticultural research and served as first director of OSU’s Chadwick Arboretum and Learning Garden. Still’s acclaimed book, Manual of Herbaceous Ornamental Plants, was first published in 1980. Now in its fourth edition, it is a standard textbook for horticulture students. In addition, he has written numerous articles for horticultural publications and amassed an extensive archive of plant photographs, many of which have been published in books, magazines, catalogs, and on plant tags. For the last 27 years, Still has been the executive director of the Perennial Plant Association, a 1,400-member international organization for horticulturists, plant growers, researchers, and gardeners interested in propagating, growing, and promoting use of perennial plants. One of five founding members of the PPA, Still edits the organization’s quarterly journal and coordinates its annual symposium and trade show. He has also served in top leadership positions with many other national and regional organizations, including the Ohio Nursery & Landscape Association, the Garden Writers Association, and the American Horticultural Society. Still has received numerous awards, including the L.C. Chadwick Teaching Award from the American Nursery & Landscape Association in 2004 and the Garden Club of America’s Medal of Honor in 2008. In 2007, the Steven M. Still Garden in the Chadwick Arboretum was dedicated in Still’s honor.
MERITORIOUS SERVICE AWARD
Recognizes a past Board member or friend of the American Horticultural Society for outstanding service in support of the Society’s goals, mission, and activities. A retired registered nurse and longtime resident of Alexandria, Virginia, Betty Smalley has been a dedicated and very active volunteer at River Farm, the national headquarters of the American Horticultural Society, for more than 20 years. In addition to helping with outdoor activities such as weeding, planting bulbs and annuals, and deadheading, Smalley has been an important participant in the AHS Annual Seed Exchange program, filling seed packets and putting together orders from members in the winter months. She also regularly volunteers at the annual plant sale and other events and programs held at River Farm and has been a friend and mentor to countless other volunteers over the years. Always modest, Smalley says that in her years of volunteering, “I have received much more than I have given.”
B.Y. MORRISON COMMUNICATIONS AWARD
Recognizes effective and inspirational communication—through print, radio, television, and/or online media—that advances public interest and participation in horticulture. A well known author and photographer and a recognized authority on North American native plants, William Cullina is currently the director of horticulture and plant curator at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay, Maine. Cullina lectures on a variety of subjects to garden and professional groups and has contributed numerous articles and photographs to popular magazines and technical journals. He has been a guest on a number of garden television and radio shows, including Martha Stewart Living and the Victory Garden. He has written and contributed photographs to five highly regarded books published by Houghton Mifflin: Growing and Propagating Wildflowers of the United States and Canada (2000), Native Trees, Shrubs, and Vines (2002), Understanding Orchids (2004), Native Ferns, Moss, & Grasses (2008), and most recently, Understanding Perennials: A New Look at an Old Favorite (2009). Three of his books have received annual book awards from the American Horticultural Society. Other awards Cullina has received include the Walter F. Winkler Award for Distinguished Plantsmanship from the North American Rock Garden Society in 2005 and the Silver Medal from the Massachusetts Horticultural Society in 2002. Prior to moving to CMBG, Cullina worked as nursery director and head propagator at the New England Wild Flower Society in Framingham, Massachusetts, from 1995 to 2006.
FRANCES JONES POETKER AWARD
Recognizes significant contributions to floral design in publications, on the platform, and to the public. Jane Godshalk is a member of the faculty of Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, where she teaches floral design. She also lectures and teaches across the country, sharing her knowledge of horticulture and floral design with a focus on nature as inspiration and flower arranging as an art. Godshalk is an artistic judge for the Garden Club of America (GCA) and her floral designs have been featured in books and magazines, including a column on “Eco-Friendly Floral Design” for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Green Scene magazine. Among her numerous awards is the GCA Bonnlyn Martin Medal for “consistently innovative floral design.” She is active in the American Institute of Floral Designers and the World Association of Flower Arrangers, and has served on the boards of the GCA and the Philadelphia International Flower Show.
CATHERINE H. SWEENEY AWARD
Recognizes extraordinary and dedicated philanthropic support of the field of horticulture. In 2006, brothers William, Daniel, and Albert Nicholas made a lead gift of $2,150,000 to the Rockford Park District in Illinois for a centerpiece project to celebrate the District’s 100th anniversary in 2009. The gift is being used to create the Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens in Sinnissippi Park. Sinnissippi Park was the first land purchased by the District in 1909. The conservatory, which will become the third largest in Illinois when it is completed in spring 2011, will be a showcase for the community and a source of inspiration and education for generations to come. Like many children growing up in Rockford in the 1940s and 1950s, the brothers spent much of their time enjoying the outdoors near the site of the future conservatory. The brothers elected to support the district as a way to honor their parents, William and Ruby Nicholas, while at the same time enhancing the riverfront property located along the shores of the Rock River. The donation underscores their commitment to make Rockford a great place to live, work, and play, and ties in with their ongoing efforts to champion the benefits of plants and quality of life issues.
Given to an individual whose ability to share his or her horticultural knowledge with others has contributed to a better public understanding of the plant world and its important influence on society. Robert Herman’s career spans more than three decades and two continents, with extensive experience in both horticulture and education. Currently he is an instructor and acting coordinator of the horticulture program at Naugatuck Valley Community College (NVCC) in Waterbury, Connecticut, where he involves students in campus and community projects. Prior to NVCC, Herman worked at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, where he started the Master Gardener Program, trained and mentored volunteers, coordinated the adult education program, and was responsible for all interpretive signage. He has also taught for the University of Massachusetts and at Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Earlier in his career, while working at a perennial plant nursery in Germany, Herman trained German apprentice horticulturists and created an internship program for Americans. He also worked as director of horticulture at White Flower Farm, where he started an internship to introduce young Europeans to American horticulture. In 2009, Herman received a national award for Teaching Excellence from the University of Texas.
URBAN BEAUTIFICATION AWARD
Given to an individual, institution, or company for significant contributions to urban horticulture and the beautification of American cities. An all-volunteer community organization formed in 2004 in Roslindale, a neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, Roslindale Green & Clean (RG&C) was developed by a group of residents whose goal was to create green, visible, attractive, and pleasant oases within the town’s busy urban center. With the help of the City of Boston and other neighborhood groups, six projects have been completed and more are planned as the organization grows. A small but dedicated group of volunteers maintains the sites throughout the growing season. Through special events like the Green Garden Exchange—an educational program that offers participants practical information on plant selection and gardening techniques they can apply in their own gardens—and a planned 2010 Roslindale Garden Tour, RG&C continues to raise community interest and participation in enhancing Roslindale’s public spaces. Above: Maggie Redfern and Diane Carter Duggan
2010 AHS BOOK AWARD WINNERS
Four gardening books published in 2009 have been awarded the American Horticultural Society’s annual Book Award. An additional book received the AHS Citation of Merit.
The winning books, listed below, were selected by the 2010 Book Award Committee chaired by Marty Ross, a regional contributor for Better Homes & Gardens and writer for Universal Press Syndicate who lives in Kansas City, Missouri, and in Hayes, Virginia. Other committee members were Scott Calhoun, a garden designer and author based in Tucson, Arizona; Jane Glasby, associate librarian for the Helen Crocker Russell Library of Horticulture in San Francisco, California; Doug Green, a garden writer and online media entrepreneur based in Stella, Ontario; Doreen Howard of Roscoe, Illinois, a former garden editor for Woman’s Day who writes for various garden publications; Irene Virag, a Pulitzer-Prize-winning writer for Newsday who lives in Fort Salonga, New York; and William Welch, a professor and Extension specialist at Texas A&M University and author of several garden books. The awards are based on qualities such as writing style, authority, accuracy, graphic design, and physical quality.
The Brother Gardeners by Andrea Wulf—Alfred A. Knopf, New York, New York
“With a well-written and compelling narrative, Andrea Wulf sheds light on a band of 18th century plant-lovers—English and American—who changed the world of gardening,” says Irene Virag. “This book is an important contribution to our horticultural heritage,” notes William Welch. “Lest you fear the book is set in staid drawing rooms filled with rattling tea cups and powdered wigs, the text is peppered with tales of English playboys on high seas plant adventures, Tahitian orgies, and glimpses into Benjamin Franklin’s passion for horticulture,” says Scott Calhoun.
Parks, Plants, and People by Lynden B. Miller—W. W. Norton & Company, New York, New York
“In an age where public and common spaces are threatened by underfunding and privatization, Lynden Miller makes a clear case for their continued importance in our lives,” says Jane Glasby. “Though this intriguing narrative about the demise and restoration of some of America’s best-known urban parks and gardens is New York-centered, the general principles apply anywhere,” says Scott Calhoun. “The author offers a lot of great design and planting observations that worked in these public projects, but also would be beautiful in home gardens,” says Marty Ross. Above: Lynden Miller, right
The Explorer’s Garden by Daniel J. Hinkley—Timber Press, Portland, Oregon
“This book is a wonderful education in the form of a book,” says Marty Ross. “It offers an opportunity to learn about rare and interesting plants, see them beautifully photographed, and read the fascinating stories about collecting them,” says William Welch. “I particularly liked the propagation and hardiness comments Hinkley provided with each plant, and I wound up with a way-too-large must-grow list after reading it,” says Doug Green.
Wicked Plants by Amy Stewart—Algonquin Books, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
“I love Stewart’s criteria for inclusion of a plant in this book…..a body count! The histories of various “perps” are entertaining, educational, and spell-binding,” notes Doreen Howard. “The book contains stories well told, and I love the illustrations, which are appropriately macabre,” says Jane Glasby. “Stewart has uncovered a treasure trove of great plant stories, and relates them with a sense of humor,” says Irene Virag.
Citation of Special Merit
The AHS Book Award is given to publishers for a single book published in a specific year. However, this year a Citation of Special Merit is being awarded in recognition of a regularly revised reference that has made significant contributions to horticultural literature over time.
Manual of Woody Landscape Plants by Michael Dirr—Stipes Publishing L. L. C., Champaign, Illinois
First published in 1975, this volume has become an essential reference for horticulture students, professionals, and home gardeners. The most recent 6th edition (2009) covers more than 2,000 taxa of trees and shrubs. “Dirr’s updated edition, the culmination of a life’s work of observations and experience, is a delight,” says Marty Ross. “His book is a friendly, opinionated masterwork, and a reference I couldn’t do without.”