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    Meet the country’s most influential gardeners and horticulturists who are making the world a greener place through plants.

    Winners of the 2018 Great American Gardener Awards

    (April 20, 18). As countless Americans begin tending to their gardens this spring, they can take inspiration from the country’s most influential gardeners and horticulturists who are making the world a greener place through plants.

    The American Horticultural Society (AHS) has named 12 of these individuals to receive its 2018 Great American Gardeners Awards, in recognition of their impactful contributions in the fields of plant research and teaching, landscape design, youth gardening, floral design, urban beautification, and more.

    The 2018 Great American Gardeners Award winners, who will be honored June 21 at AHS’s River Farm in Alexandria, VA, include:

    LIBERTY HYDE BAILEY AWARD – AHS’s highest honor recognizes lifetime achievements in horticulture.

    Pierre Bennerup (Kensington, CT) has spent five decades promoting the widespread use of perennial plants in the United States. He helped co-found the Perennial Plant Association in the 1980s to serve growers and expand support for the perennial industry. Widely regarded as an innovator and visionary, Bennerup was a pioneer of the practice of selling perennials in containers rather than as dormant, bare-root plants, which introduced gardeners nationwide to a wider variety perennial species, and fueled their widespread availability in local nurseries and garden centers. As the owner of wholesale Sunny Border Nurseries, he bred numerous best-selling perennial cultivars including Dianthus ‘Feuerhexe’ (Firewitch).

    JANE L. TAYLOR AWARD – recognizes exceptional efforts to engage children and youth in gardening.

    Katie Stagliano (Summerville, SC) founded Katie’s Krops, a nonprofit that creates vegetable gardens and donates the harvest to feed the hungry, when she was just nine years old. Katie’s Krops began with a 40-pound cabbage Stagliano grew as part of a third-grade school project, which helped feed 275 people in her community when she donated it to a soup kitchen. Now on her way to college, Stagliano has grown the organization to comprise 100 gardens in 30 states. Many of these resulted from monies she raised to make grants to other children to start plots at their schools and in their communities.

    URBAN BEAUTIFICATION AWARD – recognizes significant contributions to urban beautification.

    Karen Washington (New York, NY) has spent more than three decades fighting for food justice by creating urban farms in New York City to increase access to fresh, locally grown produce for underserved residents. She has worked with organizations such as the New York City Community Garden Coalition to turn empty lots into growing spaces and to protect existing gardens from development. Washington founded Rise & Root Farm in Chester, NY and co-founded Black Urban Growers, a volunteer organization that builds networks and community support for gardeners in rural and urban settings.

    FRANCES JONES POETKER AWARD - for significant achievements in the field of floral design.

    Debra Prinzing (Seattle, WA) founded the national Slow Flowers movement, at a time when 80% of cut flowers sold are imported from other countries and continents. Prinzing has led the charge to promote sustainably cultivated, American-grown cut flowers, and to reconnect consumers with locally sourced, seasonal botanicals. As part of this effort, she produces SlowFlowers.com, an online directory of flower farms, florists, and other vendors that supply locally grown flowers. She has authored 10 books, including Slow Flowers (St. Lynn’s Press, 2013) and The 50-Mile Bouquet (St. Lynn’s Press, 2012).

    HORTICULTURAL THERAPY AWARD – for significant contributions to the field of horticultural therapy.

    Kaifa Anderson-Hall (Washington, DC) began gardening in fifth grade through the Washington Youth Garden program, where in 2007 she became its program director. Today she focuses on enhancing the wellbeing of diverse and often underserved communities in the Washington, DC, area through garden and plant-focused experiences. A graduate of the Horticultural Therapy Institute in Colorado, she works with seniors, veterans, and differently abled youth and adults in settings like day programs, nursing and rehabilitation facilities, and schools to facilitate an indoor connection to nature. She also designs and consults on the creation of therapeutic gardens.

    EMERGING HORTICULTURAL PROFESSIONAL AWARD – recognizes early-career leadership and/or achievements.

    Kelly D. Norris (Des Moines, IA) began his horticultural career at 15, when he talked his parents into purchasing a nursery, Rainbow Iris Farm, which he still runs. He subsequently earned a master’s degree in horticulture and is currently the director of horticulture and education at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden. He also has authored two garden books, and is a regular contributor to several gardening publications.

    LANDSCAPE DESIGN AWARD – recognizes landscape architects for innovative uses of horticulture.

    Richard Hartlage (Seattle, WA) is the founding principal and CEO of Land Morphology, a landscape architecture firm known for its diverse and sustainably designed landscapes across the country. Among Hartlage’s most acclaimed projects is Seattle’s Chihuly Garden and Glass, which uses a sophisticated palette of plants to complement colorful sculptures. Hartlage also has provided his design expertise to nonprofit organizations through advisory committees and juries, given hundreds of lectures, and written extensively on American garden design.

    B.Y. MORRISON COMMUNICATION AWARD – for multimedia efforts that have positively influenced gardening.

    Douglas W. Tallamy (Newark, DE) is a professor of entomology at the University of Delaware and a leading authority on ecologically sound gardening. He authored the seminal book Bringing Nature Home (Timber Press, 2009), which has had a widespread influence on the native plants movement in home gardening. He has also written numerous articles and lectures widely on the topic, for both consumer and scientific audiences.

    PROFESSIONAL AWARD – for a public garden leader who has inspired public interest in horticulture.

    William Cullina (Boothbay, ME) is the president of the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, where he has led the development of a 10-year master plan to double the size of the gardens. Previously, he served as director of horticultural research at the New England Wild Flower Society in Massachusetts. He shares his extensive native plant knowledge through acclaimed books, scores of articles in popular periodicals, and nationwide lectures.

    TEACHING AWARD – for exceptional educators who inspire their students through horticulture.

    Mary Hockenberry Meyer (Plymouth, MN) is a professor and Extension horticulturist at the University of Minnesota, where she develops statewide educational programs in environmental and consumer horticulture. She also coordinates programs at the university’s arboretum and is the Extension Program Leader. She recently helped found the Seed Your Future movement, to promote horticultural education and careers for youth.

    PAUL ECKE JR. COMMERCIAL AWARD – for excellence in the green industry.

    Randy Baldwin (Santa Barbara, CA) is the president and general manager of San Marcos Growers, a wholesale nursery he began working at in 1981 as production manager. Over the years, he helped build its reputation for high-quality, sustainably produced plants, particularly those that thrive in California’s Mediterranean climate, while inspiring other nurseries to improve their own production techniques. He also promotes climate-appropriate plants through his business and several trade organizations to which he belongs.

    MERITORIOUS SERVICE AWARD – recognizes outstanding service of past AHS Board members or friends.

    Katy Moss Warner (Windermere, FL) has been president emeritus of the AHS since 2006, when she retired after serving as the organization’s president and CEO for five years. Prior to that, she served on AHS’s Board of Directors for 12 years, including two years as chair. Through these various roles, she has been a tireless champion of the organization’s mission and vision.

    For full descriptions of each award and brief biographies of this year’s recipients, please visit www.ahsgardening.org/awards. Photographs of the award winners and additional information about the awards program are available upon request by contacting Viveka Neveln at (703) 768-5700 ext. 120 or vneveln@ahsgardening.org.

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    The American Horticultural Society (AHS), founded in 1922, is an educational, nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization that recognizes and promotes excellence in American horticulture. One of the oldest and most prestigious gardening organizations, AHS is dedicated to making America a nation of gardeners, a land of gardens. Its mission is to open the eyes of all Americans to the vital connection between people and plants, to inspire all Americans to become responsible caretakers of the Earth, to celebrate America’s diversity through the art and science of horticulture; and to lead this effort by sharing the Society’s unique national resources with all Americans.