News & Press

Ring in the New Year with More Member Discounts to Garden Shows!

Two more great reasons to be a member of AHS!

  1. Discounts to garden shows
  2. Educational opportunities on horticulture’s relationship with environmental wellness

AHS members will receive discounts to the following three flower and garden shows (in addition to shows produced by MarketPlace Events). These shows will be presenting the AHS Environmental Awards which recognize exhibits of horticultural excellence that best demonstrate the bond between horticulture and the environment. Exhibits will be judged by the criteria of design, aesthetics, plant material, and environmental stewardship.

We are pleased to be a part of the environmental movement and to share these benefits with our AHS members.

News & Press

Meet Perla Sofia Curbelo

Awarding Communication Excellence in the Green Industry

Perla Sofia CurbeloOn this episode of the Green Industry Leaders Network podcast David Ellis, Director of Communications and editor of The American Gardener magazine guest hosts with Chris Sabbarese of Corona Tools. Since 1953, the American Horticultural Society has been recognizing excellence in communications for individuals who are effective and inspire others to participate in horticulture. The B.Y. Morrison Communication Award is one of the annual Great American Gardeners Awards. It is named for Benjamin Yoe Morrison (1891-1966), landscape architect, plant breeder, and artist. Morrison was editor of National Horticultural Magazine, a precursor to The American Gardener for nearly 40 years. David shares some insights on this prestigious award and introduces the 2021 BY Morrison award winner, Perla Sofía Curbelo-Santiago of Agrochic, based in Puerto Rico. She’s a professional communicator with vast experience in radio, television, and newspapers. She’s also certified in Horticulture Therapy (2019) from the Chicago Botanic Garden.

This episode highlights:

  • the how winners are recognized for this award and how Perla’s communication skills help educate, inspire and exemplify the honor
  • Perla’s work with the BIPOC Hort Group and the importance of representation
  • advice to new garden communicators about conveying your passion
  • the growing market of Spanish-speaking gardeners in the United States



Check out additional podcast episodes with past Great American Gardeners Awards honorees including Katie Stagliano, Dr. Kayri Havens, and Debra Prinzing and more Green Industry Leaders Network podcast episodes.

News & Press

Nominations are now open for the 2021 Great American Gardener Awards

Once a year, the American Horticultural Society (AHS) solicits nominations from the general public for the nation’s top individuals and organizations in gardening/horticulture, and presents awards to the “Horticultural Champions” in a variety of categories. We’re proud to honor these Great American Gardeners.

Nominations are now open for the 2021 Great American Gardener Awards! Deadline to nominate is September 25, 2020.

Sponsorship opportunities are available to support an honoree or the awards program in general.

News & Press

AHS Award Winner Catharine McCord Describes the Power of Horticultural Therapy

COVID-19, and its accompanying stay-at-home orders, self-quarantine measures, and breakdown in food supply chains, has given rise to a new cohort of home gardeners. While gardening fits the bill as productive domestic activity that will, in the coming months, yield edible results, are there other benefits to digging in the soil and nurturing plants? Horticultural therapists across the country sound a resounding “Yes!” and Catharine McCord, recipient of the AHS’ 2020 Horticultural Therapy Award adds her voice to the chorus. Read on as Catharine answers our questions and describes the myriad mental and physical health benefits to gardening.

In your words, what is horticultural therapy?  

Catharine McCord explores plant growth with seniors

Horticultural therapy is the practice of using plant-based activities, where participating in the activity itself is considered therapeutic. At Denver Botanic Gardens, we focus on social and emotional enrichment through active or passive involvement with our activities. We design our programs with a focus on promoting socialization and stimulating memory recall. 

 This field is founded on connecting people to themselves through plants, but it is also important to note that we can connect with each other through plants. We all have stories that can be shared through interacting with plants and talking about plants with others. The more we share our stories and hear others tell their stories, the more we connect to each other and feel like we are part of something bigger than ourselves. The more we feel part of something bigger than ourselves, the bigger the difference we can make.  


Generally, how can plants and gardens contribute to positive mental health during this time of anxiety, grief, and social distancing? 

This is no doubt an unprecedented and stressful time in our lives and we are all looking for healthy coping mechanisms and ways to process what’s happening in our world. Passive interactions (just simply being) in a garden can restore our ability to focus and assess how we’re feeling physically and emotionally. Studies indicate that spending just ten minutes in a garden can improve our moods and reduce blood pressure. When we actively nurture our plants, we can also take notice of how we tend to our needs and ourselves. Research shows that physical activity, like weeding and digging in the soil, helps to activate parts of our brain to process our thoughts, feelings, and emotions effectively. 

Your Therapeutic Thursday webinars with the Denver Botanic Gar
dens focus on certain plant groups – trees, thorny plants, and aquatic plants. What are the therapeutic lessons inherent in these particular plants? 

We can look to plants as guides in how to adapt to our surroundings and situations. In forests, trees communicate their needs through their roots and respond to each other by sending nutrients and other resources. This vast underground network of connectivity is similar to our social networks and helps us to remember that we are not alone right now; we can reach out and be seen and heard and connect with so many others. 

Thorny plants like those in the rose family teach us about setting boundaries and to take care of ourselves and protect our hearts and what we hold dear. They remind us to be kind to ourselves and take time to give ourselves the love and support we often give to others as caretakers, but don’t necessarily give to ourselves. 

Grief, suffering, and resiliency are inherent in all of our lives, but for many are uncomfortable to talk about. When we look at the beauty and delicate nature of a water lily, it’s easy to overlook its humble beginnings. As other aquatic plants, emerging through murky and muddy waters, while seemingly less-than-ideal conditions, these are essential to producing the beautiful blooms. 


What advice would you give to the parents or caregivers of children who are struggling with the “new normal”? 

If you and your children are having trouble focusing on schoolwork or any other indoor tasks, take a break to look out a window or go outside and allow your senses to explore. Move around outside with your whole body and make some loud noises. Take walks, jump around, be playful! Unstructured time outdoors will help your mind to refocus when necessary. 

Try planting seeds together! Basil grows well on a sunny windowsill. By growing a plant from seed you are making a plan for the future and that is one of the most hopeful activities you can do. Nurturing a plant teaches us life lessons about patience, anticipation, and delayed gratification. Harvesting the basil to prepare a meal together can cultivate a sense of connection. Just rubbing basil leaves and smelling the oils that are released help us to slow down and feel calm. This simple act of breathing and noticing our senses can help us to regulate or uplift our moods. Something fun about plants in mint family like basil, lavender, and rosemary, is that their stems will feel square between your fingers. 


Gardening is often an individual activity that contributes to self-care and self-sufficiency. What can a home gardener do at this time to support a collective effort or assist others in need? 

Sharing in any capacity promotes connectivity. Share seedlings with friends and family if you’ve started some. Post on social media and build your social and emotional network by sharing photos and stories of what you’re growing. A colleague at the Gardens has been making seed mixes with her children and sharing with neighbors to help brighten their spirits and their neighborhood. My nephew in Georgia loves marigolds, so I planted some in my garden and sent the rest of my seed packet to him. Now we can both grow the same plant, half a country apart. We plan to share pictures and talk about how they are growing in our different climates. At the end of the season, we can save the seeds for next year. 


What does winning an AHS Great American Gardeners Award mean to you? 

This award is a tremendous honor. I’ve always known that I wanted my work to be of public service to others and chose to pursue my degree in landscape architecture to focus on therapeutic gardens to be an advocate for mental health awareness. This led me to study horticultural therapy and herbal medicine as a way to create immersive experiences in gardens. Sensory and therapeutic gardens can function as safe spaces for those coping with stress and trauma, those who have experienced loss, and veterans- like my father who died by suicide. The combination of my personal experience with loss, my education, and work experiences have given me a unique perspective on garden design.  




News & Press

Great American Gardeners & Book Awards Ceremony Going Virtual

Every year it’s our privilege to host a wonderful celebration at our River Farm headquarters recognizing the Great American Gardeners Award recipients. This year however due to extraordinary times, we’re pleased to honor our Award Winners virtually on the web and across social media platforms. Follow the American Horticultural Society on social media where, beginning in mid-June, we will be sharing video messages from this year’s horticultural champions about the inspiring work that they do. It is our hope that by honoring our award winners in the online sphere, it will provide more exposure to their accomplishments.

Created in 1953, the AHS awards program recognizes exemplary professionals and organizations in horticultural fields, and outstanding garden-related authors and publishers. Each of our honorees is selected from nominations across the country for their efforts to advance and celebrate the art and science of horticulture. The 2020 honorees include:

  • Blocks in Bloom, a community outreach program in Rochester, NY instilling neighborhood pride through planting
  • Landon Reeve, IV, longtime supporter of the AHS through a position on the Board of Directors and grounds maintenance by Chapel Valley Landscape Company
  • Catharine McCord of Denver who designs garden spaces for children suffering from mental health issues or trauma
  • Steve Castorani whose Philadelphia-area North Creek Nursery was an early champion for the power and utility of native plants.
  • Ciscoe Morris, Seattle’s beloved Garden Guru and longtime grounds manager for Seattle University
  • Jessica Turner-Skoff, a treeologist at the Chicago-area Morton Arboretum inspiring the next generation of green collar workers with her Planted podcast
  • Charles “Chipper” Wichman whose 40 year career at Hawaii’s National Tropical Botanical Garden has been dedicated to the discovery and conservation of tropical plants
  • Dan Heims, President of Portland, OR’s Terra Nova Nurseries, breeder of over 1,000 new plant varieties
  • Nancy Ross Hugo who, through her floral design workshops, encourages participants to appreciate the unique beauty of every plant
  • Michael Balick, preeminent ethnobotanist working to preserve traditional plant knowledge and healing practices
  • Grow Dat Youth Farm, teaching leadership and work skills through growing to urban teens in New Orleans
  • Leslie Bennett who combats gentrification and displacement in Oakland, CA by creating culturally-relevant garden sanctuaries
  • James Folsom whose leadership, dedication, and vision have ensured The Huntington’s place as one of the country’s premier public gardens
  • Barry Fugatt, longtime educator in the Tulsa, OK garden community motivated by the desire to “sow seeds into the hearts and lives of people”

For more information on the 2020 honorees, please see Celebrating the successes of our award winners brings attention to the important role that horticulture plays in the health and wellbeing of people and the planet and highlights career pathways for younger generations. Please consider supporting the AHS’s Awards program. Your gift will help us honor America’s best and brightest in the horticulture field and further spread the word about their important work.

News & Press

AHS Environmental Award Winners Named at Several Flower Shows

The American Horticultural Society’s (AHS) associate director for horticulture Dan Scott and AHS board member Amy Bolton attended The Philadelphia Flower Show in late February 2020 to select the winner of the AHS Environmental Award, which recognizes horticultural excellence best demonstrating the bond between horticulture and environmental impact.

The winning exhibit was “The Olfactory Pathway” by Refugia of Narberth, PA. Refugia’s designs focus on native and edible plantings to create landscapes that are both beautiful and ecologically functional.

Other winners of AHS Environmental Awards to date include:

* “Orca Recovery Garden” by NW Bloom Ecological Services and the King Conservation District at the Northwest Flower and Garden Festival in Seattle

* “A Collaborative Garden with International Landscaping and Design and the American Landscape Institute students” at the Maryland Home & Garden Show in Baltimore

* “Between Every Two Pines Is a Doorway to a New World” by Plant Man LLC at the Southern Spring Home + Garden Show in Charlotte, N.C.

* Earth Tones Native Plant Nursery’s 18th century abandoned mine in New England, which now is home to bats and a regrown forest with wildlife. The exhibit was featured at the Connecticut Flower & Garden Show in Hartford, Conn.

Learn more about the AHS Environmental Awards.

News & Press

American Horticultural Society Names Winners of 2020 AHS Book Awards

The American Horticultural Society (AHS) has selected the three winners of its annual book awards program recognizing outstanding gardening literature.

A total of 50 books published in 2019 were nominated for consideration this year. The three award recipients are:

• The Scentual Garden by Ken Druse with botanical photographs by Ellen Hoverkamp (publisher: Abrams Books).
Designed to reveal the world of sensory experience of plants–including how to sample botanical fragrance, design for it, revel in it, and even capture it—this book was praised by judges for being “engaging, beautiful, and well written with rich descriptions.” Druse is a celebrated lecturer and an award-winning author and photographer from northwestern New Jersey who has published more than 20 garden books over the last quarter century. This is his fourth AHS Book Award.

• The Melon by Amy Goldman with photographs by Victor Schrager (publisher: City Point Press).
This book is a comprehensive and definitive work that includes portraits in words and photographs of 125 extraordinary varieties of melon, expert advice on cultivation and seed saving, and delicious melon recipes. Judges deemed it “scrumptious and luscious” with wonderful storytelling. Goldman—a Rhinebeck, N.Y.-based author, heirloom gardener, and artist—is a passionate advocate for seed saving, plant breeding, and heirloom fruits and vegetables. This is Goldman’s fourth AHS Book Award.

• Fruit Trees for Every Garden: An Organic Approach to Growing Apples, Peaches, Plums, Citrus and More by Orin Martin with Manjula Martin (publisher: Ten Speed Press).
Praised for its botanical illustrations and information on pruning, this book is a full-color guide covering everything you need to know about organically growing healthy, bountiful fruit trees. Martin, the manager of the Alan Chadwick Garden at the University of California at Santa Cruz, is a respected master orchardist, horticulturist, and teacher. This is Martin’s first AHS Book Award.

Over the last two decades, the AHS has recognized outstanding gardening books published in North America with its annual Book Awards. Books are judged by the AHS Book Award Committee on qualities such as writing style, authority, originality, horticultural accuracy, and design quality.

AHS’s 2020 Book Award Committee was chaired by Deb Wiley, a garden writer, editor, and and book project manager in Des Moines, Iowa. Other members were: William Aldrich, founder and former editor of Chicagoland Gardening, from Springfield, Mo.; Kim Toscano Holmes, a garden communicator, educator, and designer based in Stillwater, Okla.; Susan Eubank, a horticultural librarian at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden in California; Amy Campion, a freelance garden writer, photographer, and blogger in Portland, Ore.; Catriona Tudor Erler, a garden writer, photographer, and book author based in Charlottesville, Va.; and Nancy Rose, a horticulturist, writer, and former educator and research — based in Jamaica Plain, Mass.

The 2020 AHS Book Awards will be presented on Thurs., June 18 during the Great American Gardeners Awards Ceremony and Banquet at River Farm, the AHS’s national headquarters in Alexandria, Va. For more information about the awards, please visit our AHS Book Awards landing page.

News & Press

American Horticultural Society Reveals the 2020 Great American Gardeners

The American Horticultural Society (AHS) today announced the distinguished recipients of the 2020 Great American Gardeners Awards. Individuals, organizations, and companies that receive these awards represent the best in American gardening and horticulture. Each has contributed significantly to fields such as plant research, garden communication, landscape design, youth gardening, community greening, and teaching.

Among this year’s winners is James P. Folsom of The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, who is receiving the AHS’s highest honor—the Liberty Hyde Bailey Award—for his achievements in botanical garden and public horticulture leadership. The AHS applauds all of this year’s recipients for their passionate commitment to American gardening and their outstanding achievements within their area of expertise.

This year’s Great American Gardeners Award recipients are:


* 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. 
James P. Folsom, Telleen/Jorgensen Director of the Botanical Gardens, The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens, San Marino, Calif.

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. 
Grow Dat Youth Farm, New Orleans, La.

* 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.
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Monroe County’s Blocks in Bloom program, Rochester, N.Y.

* 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.
Jessica B. Turner-Skoff, Treeologist-Science Communication Leader, The Morton Arboretum, Lisle, Ill.

* 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.
Leslie Bennett, Principal, Pine House Edible Gardens, Oakland, Calif.

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. 
Ciscoe Morris, Garden Communicator, Gardening with Ciscoe, Seattle, Wash.

* PROFESSIONAL AWARD – Given to a public garden administrator whose achievements throughout his or her career have cultivated widespread interest in horticulture.
Charles “Chipper” Wichman, Jr., President, CEO, and Director, National Tropical Botanical Garden, Kalaheo, Hawaii. 

* 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.
Barry Fugatt, Director of Horticulture, Tulsa Garden Center, Tulsa, Okla.

* 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. 
Steve Castorani, Owner and Chief Financial Officer, North Creek Nurseries, Inc., Landenberg, Pa.

* FRANCES JONES POETKER AWARDRecognizes significant contributions to floral design in publications, on the platform, and to the public.
Nancy Ross Hugo, Floral Designer, Ashland, Va.

* H. MARC CATHEY AWARDRecognizes outstanding scientific research that has enriched the field of horticulture.
Dr. Michael J. Balick, Vice President for Botanical Science, Director and Philecology Curator, Institute of Economic Botany, The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, N.Y.

* HORTICULTURAL THERAPY AWARDRecognizes significant contributions to the field of horticultural therapy.
Catharine McCord, Horticultural Therapist, Denver Botanic Gardens, Denver, Colo.

* LUTHER BURBANK AWARDRecognizes extraordinary achievement in the world of plant breeding.
Dan Heims, President, Terra Nova Nurseries, Canby, Ore.

* 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.
J. Landon Reeve, IV, Founder, Chapel Valley Landscape, Woodbine, Md.


On Thurs., June 18, 2020, the AHS will honor these award recipients during the Great American Gardeners Awards Ceremony and Banquet, held at the Society’s River Farm headquarters in Alexandria, Va.

For more information on this year’s recipients, please visit our 2020 Award Winners. Photographs of the award winners and additional information about the awards program are available upon request by contacting Erika Christ at (703) 768-5700 ext. 138 or

About the American Horticultural Society

Founded in 1922, the American Horticultural Society is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization committed to modeling, educating about, and advocating for earth-friendly and sustainable gardening practices. Our mission is to share with all Americans the critical role of plants, gardens, and green spaces in creating healthy, livable communities and a sustainable planet. Since 1973, we have been headquartered at River Farm, one of George Washington’s original five farms that’s situated on a 25-acre site composed of gardens, meadows, and woodlands along the Potomac River in the Mount Vernon section of Fairfax County. To learn more, visit

News & Press

AHS Environmental Awards To Be Presented At Upcoming Flower & Garden Shows


American Horticultural Society (AHS) Environmental Awards will be presented at seven flower and garden shows across the nation in 2020:



The awards recognize exhibits of horticultural excellence best demonstrating the bond between horticulture and the environment, and inspiring viewers to beautify their homes and communities through skillful design and appropriate plant material. Exhibits will be judged by the criteria of design, aesthetics, plant material, and environmental stewardship.

AHS members receive discounts at many of these shows. Learn more here.