• Home
  • Gardening Programs
  • National Awards
  • Nominations & Awards, Great American Gardeners
  • 2019 Award Winners
  • 2019 Award Winners

    Meet the distinguished recipients of the 2019 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.

    2019 Award Winners

    Celebrating Horticultural Champions

    Liberty Hyde Bailey Award

    The American Horticultural Society's highest award, the Liberty Hyde Bailey Award is 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.


    Kayri Havens, Ph.D., is director of plant science and conservation and senior scientist at the Chicago Botanic Garden (CBG) in Glencoe, Illinois. Tasked with establishing a plant conservation department when she joined CBG in 1997, she’s transformed it into an internationally recognized program that’s using a broad array of techniques to preserve endangered plants and plant communities from threats such as habitat loss and climate change. Havens is also leading an effort to get more people involved in citizen science initiatives like Budburst that help scientists track changes to plant life cycles. At the same time, she’s helping mentor the next generation of plant conservation leaders by providing training each year to dozens of graduate students and hundreds of interns working in conservation and land management projects. She has published more than 75 peer-reviewed research papers and frequently travels the country giving presentations on plant conservation to audiences ranging from students to gardeners, land managers, and elected officials.


    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.


    As Associate Director of Community Education with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS), Sally McCabe oversees multiple urban gardening programs that focus on children, families, and the communities in which they live. One is the PHS Green City Teachers, a hands-on training program where teachers learn how to create school gardens using STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) curricula and to emphasize healthy eating and nutrition. Nearly 1,000 teachers have gone through the training since 1995, and last year McCabe’s team helped 80 schools and community gardens build indoor lighting systems for growing plants. McCabe, who has been with the PHS since 1985, also directs the PHS Garden Tenders program, a training course for individuals and groups interested in starting community gardens on vacant lots, in parks, and around schools and churches. At the Philadelphia Flower Show, McCabe serves as artistic director of the show’s Make & Take craft activity. Each year, some 10,000 children and adults engage in this popular attraction, which encourages hands-on activities such as creating floral crowns, small terrariums, and other plant-related projects.

    Community Greening Award

    Given for exemplary contributions by an individual, institution, or company that demonstrate the application and value of horticulture to creating livable communities that are greener, healthier, and more equitable. First awarded in 1985 as the Urban Beautification Award; renamed in 2019.


    The Horticultural Society of New York, popularly known as “The Hort,” sponsors an array of urban horticulture programs in the greater New York City area, with a focus on providing horticultural workforce training programs for incarcerated individuals, offering free or low-cost gardening workshops and classes for the disadvantaged and disabled, and ensuring communities of all income levels have equal access to vibrant and well-maintained greenspaces. For 30 years, the Hort’s GreenHouse Program has provided horticultural therapy and life-skills training to inmates and detainees on Rikers Island. Each year, some 40 participants transition into the workforce via involvement in the Hort’s GreenTeam program, a collaboration with the New York City Department of Transportation, by helping install and care for seasonally-rotating plantings at public greenspaces located in low-income communities. In six years, the program has expanded to encompass plantings at 60 greenspaces, including 17 public pedestrian plazas. More than 65 percent of GreenTeam participants find full-time employment or return to finish school after completing the training program. In 2017, the Hort opened a 2,500-square-foot Greenhouse and Education Center in Harlem that offers educational programs and resources to more than 10,000 people annually. In addition to training adults, the Hort has a special program for disadvantaged children ages three to 17 that focuses on engaging with the natural world and using garden-based enrichment activities to improve academic achievement.


    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 awarded in 2017.


    Inspired by tropical fruits and flowers since he was a child, Rizaniño “Riz” Reyes is a garden consultant and floral designer in Seattle, Washington, known for creatively embracing horticultural diversity with a sophisticated style that belies his 30-something years. His early passion for plants led him to the University of Washington (UW), where in 2006 he earned a degree in environmental horticulture and urban forestry with a specialization in public horticulture. He then worked as a horticulturist at the UW Botanic Gardens Center for Urban Horticulture for several years, as well as operating a small nursery on the side where he propagated rare and unusual plants for Northwest gardeners. In 2015, he took on his current role as gardens manager for the brew pub and hospitality company McMenamin’s Anderson School in Bothell, Washington. Reyes also maintains his own enterprise, RHR Horticulture & Landwave Gardens, overseeing private landscapes and designing cut flowers, in addition to teaching and lecturing for various garden clubs and professional organizations. He volunteers with the UW Farm, where he spearheads its cut flower program and mentors younger horticulturists from nontraditional backgrounds.


    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 awarded in 1974.


    As volunteers, Suzanne Edney and the late Harriet Bellerjeau jointly led the development of the Master Plan for the JC Raulston Arboretum (JCRA) in Raleigh, North Carolina. The founder of Custom Landscapes Inc., in Apex, North Carolina, Edney was one of the first volunteers at the JCRA in the early 1980s. There she met Bellerjeau, a landscape architect working in Raleigh who was also an early volunteer. Recognizing that the rapidly growing arboretum needed a plan to steer its development, in 2005 Edney and Bellerjeau offered to organize and oversee the work of a Grassroots Master Plan Committee composed of other professional designers. The idea was approved by the JCRA administration and the committee began work in 2006. Over the next 10 years, Edney and Bellerjeau contributed their landscape design vision along with thousands of hours of volunteer time. Among the highlights of the plan were restoration of the iconic Lath House structure, creation of accessible pathways that improved visitor flow around the arboretum, and relocation and design of the Finley Nottingham Rose Garden. Bellerjeau died in 2017, but Edney is still involved with the JCRA’s Master Plan Committee.


    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. Named for Benjamin Yoe Morrison (1891-1966), writer, landscape architect, plant breeder, and artist. Formerly known as the Horticultural Communication Award, it was first awarded in 1987. This award merged with the Horticultural Writing Award (which debuted in 1953) in 2005.


    Gary Bachman is the award-winning host of the Mississippi State University (MSU) Extension Service’s Southern Gardening television and radio shows and a newspaper columnist and social media personality. Through wide-ranging media, along with frequent personal appearances, he has been sharing gardening information with a weekly audience of as many as two million people since 2010. More than 300 videos of his Southern Gardening shows are available on the university’s website and through YouTube. An Extension/Research Professor of Horticulture at MSU’s Coastal Research & Extension Center in Biloxi, Bachman earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Clemson University before going on for his doctorate at the Ohio State University. Before moving to MSU, Bachman was on the faculty at Tennessee Technological University and Illinois State University. Among his many awards is 2018 recognition by the American Society for Horticultural Science for Southern Gardening.The show also received Mississippi State Extension’s Outstanding Communication Award in 2018.


    Professional Award 

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


    Director emeritus of the University of Washington Botanic Gardens in Seattle, John Wott has had a significant influence on horticulture in the Pacific Northwest over the course of a distinguished horticultural career that included work in the Cooperative Extension service, teaching, and public garden administration. Wott was appointed the arboretum’s director in 1993, becoming its first on-site director in 20 years. During his 13-year tenure as director of the 230-acre property, he helped in planning and developing the arboretum’s Master Plan, reconciling the often competing interests of various stakeholders such as the university, the city of Seattle, immediate neighbors, and state government. At the time he joined the arboretum, Wott was a horticulture professor at the University of Washington, where he played a major role in the development of the university’s Center for Urban Horticulture. He continues to encourage graduate students in the horticulture program through his support of the John A. Wott Fellowship.


    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.


    Charlie Hall, Ph.D., is professor and Ellison Chair in International Floriculture at Texas A&M University (TAMU) in College Station. A passionate speaker who grew up in a family-run nursery in North Carolina, Hall is known for his expertise and innovative research in horticultural management, marketing, green industry outlook, and financial analysis. In his teaching, he strives to make students aware of the important role plants and horticulture play in their daily lives and in the world around them. In addition to his academic work, Hall currently serves as the chief economist for AmericanHort, an industry trade association, and as co-chair of Seed Your Future’s Advisory Council. Among his many awards and achievements are the Vice Chancellor’s Award in Excellence for Student Counseling and Relations and the Association of Former Students’ Distinguished Achievement Award in Teaching, both from TAMU. Hall received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Tennessee and his doctorate from Mississippi State University. He began his academic career at TAMU in 1988, where he spent 13 years on the faculty before moving to the University of Tennessee in 2002. In 2007, Hall returned to TAMU in his current role.

    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.


    A passionate proponent of heirloom and open pollinated seeds, Ira Wallace is co-owner of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange (SESE), which she cooperatively manages with other members of the Acorn Community Farm in Mineral, Virginia. She has been instrumental in growing SESE into a successful supplier of more than 700 varieties that are carefully selected for superior flavor and performance in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic. With SESE as a successful model, Wallace advocates for democratizing the seed supply and providing broader access to healthy, flavorful food. She cofounded the annual Heritage Harvest Festival in 2007 at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello estate in Virginia, which exposes thousands of visitors to heirloom plants and promotes their preservation. She also works on a global scale through partnerships with Seed Programs International, providing seeds and education to impoverished farmers abroad. She is the author of The Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Southeast (2013) and a board member of the Organic Seed Alliance.

    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.


    An AHS member and dedicated volunteer since 2001, Marthe Haubert passed away in 2018 at 74. Marty, as she was known to friends and fellow volunteers, was an avid gardener who gave countless hours of service over the years, helping maintain the gardens at River Farm, the AHS’s 25-acre headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia. She also helped to ensure the success of numerous events and programs, such as the organization’s annual plant sale, gala, and Seed Exchange. When not volunteering, she enjoyed spending time with her grandchildren and traveling the world with her husband, John.