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  • 2018 Award Winners

    Meet the distinguished recipients of the 2018 AHS Great American Gardeners Awards. The individuals, organizations, and businesses who receive these national awards represent the best in American gardening, and we applaud their outstanding achievements within their areas of expertise.

    2018 Award Winners

    Celebrating Horticultural Heroes

    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. Named after Liberty Hyde Bailey (1858–1954), horticulturist, educator, author. First awarded in 1958.

    Pierre Bennerup

    Pierre Bennerup has devoted 50 years to elevating and expanding the role of perennial plants in American gardens and in the nursery trade. A graduate of Princeton University in New Jersey, he is a self-taught plantsman who learned through hands-on experience and extensive reading. Since the late 1960s, Bennerup has been CEO and co-owner of Sunny Border Nurseries in Kensington, Connecticut. The wholesale nursery was founded by his father, Robert, in 1929.

    Until the 1970s, most perennials were sold as dormant “bare-root” plants. Peers credit Bennerup with coming up with the revolutionary idea to start selling them as live plants in containers. He shared his visionary methods with other growers, which facilitated the production and marketing of a much wider variety of perennials than had previously been available.

    Having observed that sharing successful growing and marketing practices helped strengthen the nursery industry, in the 1980s, Bennerup helped to found the Perennial Plant Association (PPA), an influential trade organization that now has members all over the world. He served as the PPA’s president in 1986 and 1987, and received the association’s Award of Merit in 1998. Bennerup was also the founder and first president of the Connecticut Chapter of the Hardy Plant Society and a past president of the Connecticut Horticultural Society. He received the AHS’s Paul Ecke Jr. Commercial Award in 2000.

    Over the course of his career, Bennerup has introduced more than 50 new plants through Sunny Border, including the popular and widely grown Dianthus ‘Feuerhexe’ (Firewitch), which he brought back from the Netherlands in 1987; the PPA selected it as its Perennial Plant of the Year in 2006.


    Paul Ecke Jr. Commercial Award

    Given to an individual or company whose commitment to the highest standards of excellence in the field of commercial horticulture contributes to the betterment of gardening practices everywhere. Named for Paul Ecke Jr. (1925–2002), innovator, facilitator, businessman. Formerly known as the Commercial Award, it was first awarded in 1971.

    Randy Baldwin

    Randy Baldwin is the president and general manager of San Marcos Growers, a wholesale nursery in Santa Barbara, California. Baldwin, who joined the nursery in 1981 as production manager, writes all the content for the nursery’s website, which includes a wealth of plant information. The 23-acre nursery is known for producing and introducing a wide selection of drought-tolerant plants suitable for cultivation in California’s diverse climate zones. Baldwin is also active in numerous horticultural organizations, including the California Association of Nurseries and Garden Centers and the Cactus and Succulent Society of America, and is a sought-after speaker. The Southern California Horticultural Society named Baldwin its Horticulturist of the Year in 2017; he also received the California Horticultural Society’s award for Contributions to Horticulture in 2011.


    Emerging Horticultural Professional Award

    Given in the early stages of an individual’s career, this award recognizes significant achievements and/or leadership that have advanced the field of horticulture in America. First given in 2017.

    Kelly D. Norris

    Kelly D. Norris is an author, speaker, and director of horticulture and education at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden (DMBG) in Iowa. He began his horticultural career at age 15, when he talked his parents into buying a nursery, Rainbow Iris Farm, which he still runs. He then earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in horticulture from Iowa State University in Ames. In his current position at DMBG, Norris is responsible for design, curation, programming, and management. He also regularly writes for gardening magazines such as Country Gardens and Fine Gardening, and is a contributing editor for Greenhouse Grower. His first book, A Guide to Bearded Irises, published by Timber Press, won an American Horticultural Society Book Award in 2013. He followed up with Plants With Style (Timber Press, 2015). He received the Perennial Plant Association’s Young Professional Award in 2011. 


    Horticultural Therapy Award

    Recognizes significant contributions to the field of horticultural therapy. First awarded in 1985.

    Kaifa Anderson-Hall

    Kaifa Anderson-Hall channeled her experience with social work and community garden development into a career in horticultural therapy. Through her business, Inspired Horticulture Services, Inc., and a non-profit called Plants and Blooms ReImagined, Anderson-Hall focuses on enhancing the well-being of diverse and often underserved communities in the greater Washington, D.C. region.

    Anderson-Hall works with seniors, veterans, and differently-abled youth and adults in settings such as day programs, nursing and rehabilitation facilities, and schools. She also designs and consults on the creation of therapeutic gardens. She lectures on the benefits of horticultural therapy programs at conferences and health fairs.
    A Master Gardener and graduate of the Horticultural Therapy Institute in Denver, Colorado, Anderson-Hall is active with a variety of organizations, including the American Horticultural Therapy Association and Washington D.C.’s School Garden Advisory Council.


    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. First given in 1974.

    Richard Hartlage

    Richard Hartlage is the founding principal and CEO of Land Morphology, a landscape architecture firm in Seattle, Washington. His designs incorporate sophisticated horticulture, artful detailing, and historical awareness to create immersive spaces that heighten the human experience of the natural world. The firm’s diverse projects around the country include the Herb Garden at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in New York; plantings at the Chihuly Garden and Glass in Seattle, Washington; and the Moore-Turner Heritage Gardens in Spokane, Washington. Hartlage gives lectures worldwide and serves on many advisory committees and design juries. A widely published writer, he is the author of Bold Visions for the Garden (Fulcrum Publishing, 2001), and coauthor—with colleague Sandy Fischer—of The Authentic Garden: Naturalistic & Contemporary Planting Design in Landscape Architecture (The Monacelli Press, 2015).    



    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. First awarded in 1980.

    Katy Moss Warner

    Katy Moss Warner has been president emeritus of the American Horticultural Society (AHS) since 2006, when she retired after serving as the organization’s President & CEO for five years. Prior to that time, she served on the AHS’s Board of Directors for 12 years, including two years as its Chair. During her tenure as president, she oversaw the development of new educational initiatives such as the SmartGarden™ program, and forged partnerships with like-minded organizations to help expand the AHS’s influence. As president emeritus, Warner continues to support the AHS by serving as a roving ambassador. Through her passionate commitment to sustainable gardening and community beautification efforts, she embodies the AHS’s mission of “making America a nation of gardeners, a land of gardens.”   


    B.Y. Morrison Communication Award

    Recognizes effective and inspirational communication—through print, radio, television, and/or online media—that advances public interest and participation in horticulture. Named for Benjamin Yoe Morrison (1891–1966), landscape architect, plant breeder, artist. Formerly known as the Horticultural Communication Award, it was first awarded in 1987. In 2005, this award merged with the Horticultural Writing Award, which debuted in 1953.

    Douglas W. Tallamy

    A leading voice in the ecological gardening movement, Douglas W. Tallamy is a professor in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware in Newark. As a research scientist who has authored more than 88 articles, he has focused on investigating the ways in which insects interact with plants, and how such interactions affect overall diversity.

    He has brought this research to life for home gardeners through lectures and his books, starting with Bringing Nature Home (Timber Press, 2007), which was awarded a Silver Medal by the Garden Writers Association. His second book, The Living Landscape, was co-authored by Rick Darke (Timber Press, 2014). Tallamy is a regular columnist for Garden Design magazine and lectures nationally and internationally. His awards include the Garden Club of America Margaret Douglas Medal and the Tom Dodd, Jr. Award of Excellence, both in 2013.


    Frances Jones Poetker Award

    Named for Frances Jones Poetker, floral designer, author, lecturer. First awarded in 1988.

    Debra Prinzing

     A writer and speaker based in Seattle, Washington, Debra Prinzing is a leading advocate for sustainably cultivated, American grown flowers. Through her Slow Flowers movement, she has fostered a national dialog that encourages consumers and industry professionals alike to make conscious choices about their floral purchases. Prinzing produces SlowFlowers.com, an online directory of flower farms, florists, and other vendors that supply locally grown flowers. She also founded American Flowers Week in 2015. Prinzing is a contributing editor for Florists’ Review, and she also produces a weekly “Slow Flowers” podcast. In 2016, the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market honored Prinzing with its first Growers’ Choice Award for “outstanding contributions to revitalizing the local floral community.” She is the author of 10 books, including Slow Flowers (St. Lynn’s Press, 2013) and The 50 Mile Bouquet (St. Lynn’s Press, 2012).  


    Professional Award

    Given to a public garden administrator whose achievements during the course of his or her career have cultivated widespread interest in horticulture. First awarded in 1953.

    William Cullina

    William Cullina has been the executive director and subsequently president of the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens (CMBG) in Boothbay since 2011. Over that period, he has developed and led a comprehensive 10-year master plan to double the size of the gardens and cultivate an additional four miles of trails and paths. Prior to moving to CMBG, Cullina served as director of horticultural research at the New England Wild Flower Society in Framingham, Massachusetts.

    A noted native plant authority, conservationist, and landscape designer, Cullina is the author of a series of acclaimed horticultural reference books, including Native Ferns, Moss, & Grasses (Houghton Mifflin, 2008).  He has also delivered more than 200 lectures in 30 states. Among his previous awards are the Scott Medal from the Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania in 2012, and the AHS’s B.Y. Morrison Communications Award in 2010.


    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. Named for Jane L. Taylor, youth advocate, horticulturist, educator. First awarded in 2000.

    Katie Stagliano

    As a fourth-grader, Katie Stagliano founded Katie’s Krops, a nonprofit organization with the mission to create vegetable gardens and donate the harvest to feed the hungry. Stagliano started with one cabbage in her own backyard garden in South Carolina and then created a garden at her elementary school. More gardens followed at farms, schools, homeless shelters, soup kitchens, and private homes, and Katie’s Krops now includes 100 gardens in more than 30 states. Stagliano, now 19, offers grants to assist children in starting plots of their own. She is the youngest recipient of the Clinton Global Citizen Award for Leadership in Civil Society, and was honored with the Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Vision Award for model citizenship. Her first book, Katie’s Cabbage (Young Palmetto Books, 2014), has won several awards.


    Teaching Award

    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. First awarded in 1953.

    Mary Hockenberry Meyer

    As a professor and Extension horticulturist at the University of Minnesota, Mary Hockenberry Meyer develops and coordinates statewide multimedia educational programs in environmental and consumer horticulture. In addition to her teaching duties, she is the director of graduate studies for the Master’s in Professional Studies with a concentration in Horticulture program. She also coordinates academic and internship programs at the university’s arboretum and is the Extension Program Leader.

    From 1994 to 2007, Meyer was the director of the university’s Extension Master Gardener program, where she established statewide academic standards; she also developed the online Master Gardener class. In 2013 and 2014, Meyer co-chaired the steering committee that founded Seed Your Future, a national movement to promote horticulture education and careers to youth.


    Urban Beautification Award

    Given to an individual, institution, or company for significant contributions to urban horticulture and the beautification of American cities. First awarded in 1985.

    Karen Washington

    Karen Washington has been a community gardener and activist in New York City since 1985. As a New York Botanical Garden trustee, she currently works with Bronx neighborhoods to turn empty lots into gardens. In her earlier role as an advocate and former president of the New York City Community Garden Coalition, she championed garden protection and preservation. She’s also active with the La Familia Verde Garden Coalition, helping to launch a City Farms Market to bring fresh vegetables to the community. She serves as a board member of organizations such as Why Hunger and Just Food, often leading workshops on food justice and growing food. Washington is also a co-owner and farmer at Rise & Root Farm. In 2012, Ebony magazine voted her one of the 100 most influential African Americans in the country. In 2014, she was the recipient of the James Beard Leadership Award.