annual awards

The American Public Gardens Association Awards are public horticulture’s best showcase for the most influential, thought-provoking individuals and organizations. These award winners set a professional precedent for other individuals and organizations to follow.

2024 nominations now open

2020 Award Winner
Paul Meyer, Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania

Not awarded in 2021, 2022, or 2023

Honorary Life Member

American Public Gardens Association confers its most prestigious award, the Honorary Life Member Award, upon an individual who has provided meritorious service to the Association over a long period of time and has displayed an uncommon devotion to the field of public horticulture. The award is designed to honor an individual who has for many years supported the Association through active committee work, energetic membership, and leadership positions and whose efforts have led to the advancement of the Association. Besides working tirelessly for the Association, this individual is expected to have held leadership positions that further the missions of public gardens. This award is generally given to an individual nearing or in retirement. Given the status of this award, it is not expected to be given on an annual basis.

1958 Beatrix Farrand

1964 Carl W. Fenninger

1973 Dorothy E. Hansell

1976 Fred B. Widmoyer

1977 Walter E. Eickhorst

1981 John E. Voight

1983 Richard W. Lighty

1986 Francis Ching

1987 R. Henry Norweb, Jr.

1988 Mildred E. Mathias

1993 Joseph Oppe

1999 Roy L. Taylor

2004 Judith D. Zuk

2005 C. W. Eliot Paine

2007 Jonathan Shaw

2008 Elizabeth Scholtz

2009 Peter Raven

2013 David Barnett

2013 Gerry Donnelly

2014 Kris Jarantoski

2015 Holly Shimizu

2016 Jane G. Pepper

2017 Eric N. Tschanz

2018 Luke Messinger, Dawes Arboretum

2019Barbara Faust, Smithsonian Gardens

2023 Award Winner
Jeff Epping, Olbrich Botanical Gardens

Award of Merit

The Award of Merit recognizes an American Public Gardens Association member who has performed with distinction in the field of public horticulture and has excelled as a public garden professional at one or more institutions. The recipient’s accomplishments will encompass some combination of botany, horticulture, conservation, gardening, research, extension, education, development, or administration. The intent is that this award be given to an individual during the mid-to-latter part of an illustrious career.

1976 – Mildred E. Mathias, John E. Voight, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society

1977 – Hugh Steavenson

1978 – Robert James Hilton, Leslie Laking, Joseph W. Oppe, Henry Teuscher

1979 – George Kelly, Ruth Ashton Nelson, Catherine Sweeney

1980 – Rosalynn Carter, Eugene E. Cline, Richard A. Howard, The Morton Arboretum

1982 – Carlton B. Lees, Russell J. Seibert

1983 – Ernest B. Chew

1984 – Geoffrey L. Rausch

1985 – F. Raymond Brush

1987 – Roy L. Taylor

1988 – Myron Kimnach

1990 – Carl A. Totemeier

1991 – Ann Lyon Crammond

1992 – Brian O. Mulligan, Elizabeth Scholtz

1993 – Robert Ornduff, Freek Vrugtman

1994 – Gurdon L. Tarbox, Jr.

1995 – J. C. Raulston

1996 – Peter H. Raven

1997 – Elizabeth McClintock

1998 – Charles A. Lewis, C. W. Eliot Paine

2000 – John Creech, George Ware

2001 – Charles Lamoureux

2002 – Harrison Flint

2003 – Edward R. Hasselkus

2005 – Gregory Long

2006 – Steven Timbrook

2007 – Barbara Whitney Carr

2008 – Peter J. Olin

2009 – James P. Folsom

2010 – Janet Marinelli

2010 – Patricia Collins

2011 – Brian Holley, Melissa Marshall, Shane Smith

2012 – Carol Line, Eric Tschanz

2013 – Ed Schneider, Paul Meyer

2014 – Bob Lyons, Panayoti Kelaidis

2015 – Don Rakow

2016 – Paul Redman, Chipper Wichman

2017 – Kris Bachtell, Dr. Christopher Dunn

2018 – Clara Curtis, North Carolina Arboretum; Harold Sweetman, Jenkins Arboretum

2019 Mark Runciman, Royal Botanical Gardens; Mary Pat Matheson, Atlanta Botanical Garden

2020Sadafumi Uchiyama, Portland Japanese Garden; Susan Hamilton, UT Gardens

2021Sharon Loving, Longwood Gardens

2022 – Ronnit Bendavid-Val, Brooklyn Botanical Gardens

2023 Award Winner
Leigh Taylor, Tulsa Garden Center at Woodward Park

Professional Citation

The Professional Citation recognizes the significant achievements in public horticulture of an American Public Gardens Association member who has excelled in one of the disciplines generally associated with public gardens such as botany, horticulture, gardening, conservation, research, education, extension, development, or administration. Recipients may be at the early-to mid-point of their prestigious career. More importantly, the nominee should embody great skills, innovation, and potential.

1989 – Victor Gass

1990 – Bernard Jackson

1991 – Lucy Tolmach

1992 – Pierre Bourque

1994 – David Murbach

1995 – Robert Brackman

1996 – Robert Hays

1997 – Rick Darke

1998 – Richard V. Piacentini

1999 – James Folsom

2000 – Jennifer Ceska

2001 – Paul Meyer

2002 – David A. Galbraith

2003 – Christopher Woods

2004 – Scot Medbury

2005 – Cynthia Klemmer

2006 – Sarah Reichard

2007 – Kathleen Socolofsky

2008 – Christine Flanagan

2009 – Maureen Heffernan

2010 – Garry Clarke

2011 – Casey Sclar

2012 – Andrew Bunting, Andrea Kramer

2013 – Patrick Griffith, Sharon Loving

2014 – Chris Carmichael, David Michener

2015 – Michael Dosmann, Sandy Tanck

2016 – Cynthia Druckenbrod

2017 – Scott Stewart, PhD

2018 – Richie Steffen, Elisabeth C. Miller Botanical Garden

2019Sarah Hedean, Smithsonian Gardens

2020Tara Moreau, UBC Botanical Gardens

2021Chad Washburn, Naples Botanical Gardens

2022 – Shari Edelson, The Arboretum at Penn State

2023 Award Winner: Holden Forest & Gardens

Working Woods

2023 Award Winner: Adkins Arboretum
Rooted Wisdom

Program Excellence Award

This award is reserved for an American Public Gardens Association institutional member who has displayed a truly innovative spirit in the development of an original and completed program. Programs can be defined as any activity or experience that provides an opportunity to engage with the public garden and its mission. The committee will take into consideration a garden’s budget when determining the award recipient.

1989 Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Children’s Garden
1990 Arboretum School of the Barnes Foundation
1991 University of British Columbia Botanical Garden, Plant Introduction Scheme
1992 The North Carolina State Arboretum, Plant Research, Evaluation and Introduction
1993 Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, Youth Education Program
1994 North Carolina Zoological Park, Sonoran Desert Collection
1995 Nebraska Statewide Arboretum, Community Landscape Improvement Program
1995 The National Tropical Botanical Garden, Growing Seed: The Wiliwili Project
1996 The Holden Arboretum, Conservation Program
1996 Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, Plant Scholars Program
1997 Harold L. Lyon Arboretum, Micropropagation of Endangered Hawaiian Plants
1998 Midwest Public Gardens Collaborative: Chicago Botanic Garden; The Holden Arboretum; Minnesota Landscape Arboretum; Missouri Botanical Garden; The Morton Arboretum
1999 Minnesota Landscape Arboretum’s Andersen Horticultural Library
2000 EARTH University
2001 Dallas Arboretum & Botanical Garden
2002 Marie Selby Botanical Garden
2003 Brooklyn Botanic Garden
2004 Atlanta Botanical Garden
2004 North Carolina Botanical Garden
2005 New England Wildflower Society
2006 Albuquerque Biological Parks
2006 Rio Grande Botanical Garden
2007 Nebraska Statewide Arboretum
2008 Chicago Botanic Garden
2008 Missouri Botanical Garden
2009 Queens Botanical Garden
2010 The Sustainable Sites Initiative
2011 Longwood Gardens, Professional Gardener Training Program
2012 Smithsonian Institution: The Archives of American Gardens (AAG)
2013 The Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance, State Botanical Gardens of Georgia
2014 The Fairchild Challenge, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
2015Small Garden: The Water Conservation Garden, Ms. Smarty-Plants; Large Garden: Chicago Botanic Garden, Science Career Continuum
2016Small Budget: Jardin Botanico De Cicieana; Large Budget: United States Botanic Garden and Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Landscape for Life
2017 – Small Budget: The Hands-on-Nature Anarchy Zone at Ithaca Children’s Garden; Large Budget: The Chanticleer Scholarship in Professional Development
2018North Carolina Botanical Garden, “Wonder Connection”; Portland Japanese Garden, Japanese Garden Training Center
2019 Children at Play Network, Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest; Epiphytes of Belize, Marie Selby Botanical Garden
2020 Windy City Harvest, Chicago Botanic Garden; Bringing Books to Life, Myriad Botanical Garden
2021 Longwood Gardens, Community Read; Nebraska Statewide Arboretum – Bloom Box
2022 – Forest Project, Wave Hill; ArbNet, Morton Arboretum

2023 Award Winner
Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

Award for Garden Excellence

Started in 2003, the Award for Garden Excellence is an annual award given to a public garden that exemplifies the highest standards of horticultural practices. Selected by its peers, the award recipient is a public garden that has shown a commitment to supporting and demonstrating best gardening practices. The criteria for this award, which are given to the public garden in their entirety, include:

  • The best designed and most horticulturally outstanding display;
  • Gardening practices that are appropriate to a local or regional environment and reflect environmentally informed horticulture;
  • Maintenance of commitment to plant collections;
  • Demonstrated commitment to the national or a regional horticultural community;
  • Encouraging students of gardening at all levels through innovative horticultural practices.

2003 – Ganna Walska Lotusland

2004 – Missouri Botanical Garden

2005 – Olbrich Botanical Gardens

2006 – Chicago Botanic Garden

2007 – Chanticleer Foundation

2008 – Bloedel Reserve

2009 – Betty Ford Alpine Gardens

2010 – Smithsonian Gardens

2011 – Bok Tower Gardens

2012 – Springs Preserve

2013 – Sarah P. Duke Gardens

2014 – Longwood Gardens

2015 – Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center, Luci and Ian Family Garden

2016 – Crosby Arboretum

2017 – Naples Botanical Garden

2018Denver Botanic Garden

2019Brookgreen Gardens

2020Portland Japanese Garden

2021Atlanta Botanical Garden

2022 – Vallarta Botanical Garden

2023 Award Winner
The Palm Beaches in Bloom; Mounts Botanical Garden

2023 Award Winner
100 Years: Growing Strong; Morton Arboretum

Dorothy E. Hansell Marketing Award

The Marketing Award is a tribute to Dorothy E. Hansell, former editor of the New York Botanical Garden’s Garden Journal, the newsletter and bulletin of the Holly Society of America, the American Bonsai Society Journal, and the APGA Bulletin. Hansell’s reputation of excellence in horticultural and botanical journalism was matched by her dedication to developing the discipline within the field of public horticulture. In her honor, this award recognizes outstanding marketing and communications campaigns and/or publications that advance a public garden’s mission. The criteria for this award include:

  • The efficacy of the campaign or publication in achieving its goals;
  • Advancement of the garden’s mission;
  • Creativity and innovation in engagement, design, approach, and/or implementation of campaign;
  • Garden’s budget for campaign or publication, including staff and volunteer hours;
  • Garden’s overall budget.

1979Newsletter: Missouri Botanical Garden; Map/Brochure: Strybing Arboretum

1980 Press Release: The Dawes Arboretum; Technical Paper: University of British Columbia Botanical Garden

1981 Postcard: Strybing Arboretum; Single-Subject Guide: University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum

1982Map/Brochure: Longwood Gardens; Quarterly Publication: The Morton Arboretum

1983Membership Brochure: Chicago Botanic Garden; Newsletter: The New York Botanical Garden

1984Annual Report: The New York Botanical Garden; News Release: Brooklyn Botanic Garden

1985Single Topic Publication: Huntington Botanical Gardens; Poster: Missouri Botanical Garden

1986Education Brochure: Massachusetts Horticultural Society; Postcard: National Tropical Botanical Garden

1987Quarterly Publication: Pacific Horticulture Foundation; Map/Brochure: Huntington Botanical Gardens

1988Membership Brochure: Atlanta Botanical Garden; Newsletter: Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania

1989Education Brochure: Chicago Botanic Garden, Haverford College Campus Arboretum

1990Map/Brochure: Hoyt Arboretum, Longwood Gardens

1991Annual Report: The Haverford College Campus Arboretum, Memphis Botanic Garden, Chicago Botanic Garden

1992Membership Brochure: The Haverford College Campus Arboretum, Powell Gardens, New England Wild Flower Society

1993Newsletter: Callaway Gardens, Georgia Southern Botanical Garden

1994Rack Brochure: Blithewold Mansion & Gardens, Botanical Research Institute of Texas, Highstead Arboretum, Norfolk Botanical Garden

1995Garden Guide Maps: Dyck Arboretum of the Plains, Vanderbilt University, The New York Botanical Garden, Chicago Botanic Garden

1996Membership Brochures: The University of Idaho Arboretum & Botanical Garden, National Tropical Botanical Garden,

1997Newsletter: Reeves-Reed Arboretum, National Tropical Botanical Garden

1998Special Event Announcement/Invitation: Fairchild Tropical Garden, The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Botanical Garden & Arboretum

1999Educational Course Catalog: New York Botanical Garden – Continuing Education

2000Garden Guide Map: White River Gardens, Better Homes and Gardens Test Gardens

2001Membership Brochure: Garvan Woodland Arboretum, Leila Arboretum, Hatcher Garden & Woodland Preserve

2002Rack Brochure: Highstead Arboretum, Bok Tower Gardens

2003Garden Website: Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania, Nebraska Statewide Arboretum

2004Annual Report: Cornell Plantations, The Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College

2005Newsletter: The Holden Arboretum, Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, Montgomery Botanical Center, Cox Arboretum & Gardens MetroPark

2006Development Brochures for Capital Campaign: Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

2009Wayfinding/Guide Maps: Haverford College Arborteum Association, Norfolk Botanical Garden, Website: Lurie Garden – Millennium Park, North Carolina Botanical Garden, Wave Hill, Electronic Newsletter: Franklin Park Conservatory

2010Membership Brochure: Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

2011Publication: Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University; Polly Hill Arboretum

2012Website: Lotusland

2015 Small Budget: The Gardens on Spring Creek, Plant it Forward – Fighting Hunger from the Ground Up; Large Budget: Longwood Gardens, Longwood Meadow Campaign

2016Branding: The Morton Arboretum, “The Champion of Trees”

2017 – Special Exhibit Marketing: Desert Botanical Garden, “Bruce Munro: Sonoran Light at Desert Botanical Garden”

2018Print Communications: Gardens on Spring Creek, “NoCo Bloom”

2019Stoneleigh Gardens: “Save Stoneleigh”; Longwood Gardens, Fountain Restoration”

2020Replant & Regrow, Naples Botanical Garden; Tree Week, Missouri Botanical Garden

2021“Everybody’s Garden”; San Francisco Botanical Gardens; Cheekwood, Where Flowers (Virtually) Bloom

2022- “This is the Garden You Made” – Houston Botanical Garden; 2021 Philadelphia Flower Show – Pennsylvania Horticultural Society

2023 Award Winner
New Hanover County Arboretum

Operational Sustainability Award

Public gardens have a unique ability to demonstrate leadership in the promotion of sustainability because of their recognized expertise in plants, biodiversity and ecosystem health — elements of the natural world dependent on public opinion and behaviors.

This award is given to an American Public Gardens Association member garden, in recognition of their outstanding dedication and achievements in promoting sustainability through their programs, operation, facilities and/or research. Factors in selecting an award winner include influence, innovation and applicability to the public garden world and beyond. The committee will take into consideration budget when determining the award recipient. Self-submission is welcome and encouraged.

2016 – Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

2017 – Missouri Botanical Garden

2018 – Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest

2019 – New York Botanical Garden

2020 – Bok Tower Gardens

2021 – Duke Farms

2023 – New Hanover County Arboretum

2023 Award Winner
Mary Brinegar

Service Award

This Award is reserved for an individual who has shown selfless service to the organization through work that advances the Professional Communities, service on an Association Committee, and/or the Association’s Board of Directors.

2005 – Cheryl Lowe

2006 – George Briggs

2007 – Rick Lewandowski

2008 – Gerry Donnelly

2009 – Don A. Rakow

2010 – Mary Pat Matheson

2011 – Richard V. Piacentini

2012 – Rick Colbert

2013 – Nancy Bechtol

2014 – Linda Eirhart

2015 – Barbara Faust

2016 – Dr. Richard Lighty and Sally Lighty

2017 – Nicola Ripley

2018 – Catherine Hubbard

2019Dr. William E. “Bill” Barrick

2020Paul Redman

2021 – Tom Smarr

Please note: Gardens are encouraged to self-nominate for the Garden Excellence, Program Excellence, Dorothy E, Hansell, and Sustainability Awards. Standing Association Board Members and Members of the Awards Committee are not eligible for Honorary Life Member, Award of Merit or Professional Citation awards.

Looking for Student Travel Awards?

They are now part of the Garden Scholars Program under Scholarship Opportunities.