Great American Gardeners 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.

Sponsorship opportunities are available to support a 2020 honoree or the awards program in general. Click here for more information about the benefits of sponsorship.

Evolution of the Great American Gardeners Awards Program:


The AHS Awards Program was initiated in 1953 and originally offered four awards: the Horticultural Writing Award, Professional Award, Teaching Award, and Scientific Award. It has grown and evolved over the years to the current Great American Gardeners Awards Program offering a total of 16 awards.  Each award honors individuals or organizations exemplifying the art, science, and environmental responsibility of horticulture in North America.

Congratulations to the 2020 Great American Gardeners.

2020 Award Nominations:


The window to make nominations for the 2020 Great American Gardeners Awards is closed. Honorees were announced in the March/April 2020 issue of The American Gardener.

For more information, email or call (703) 768-5700 ext. 121 with questions.


Description of Awards Offered in 2020:


Liberty Hyde Bailey Award

Previous Winners

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.

B. Y. Morrison Communication Award

Previous Winners

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. This award merged with the Horticultural Writing Award (which debuted in 1953) in 2005.


Community Greening Award

Previous Winners

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 for 2019.

Emerging Horticultural Professional Award

Previous Winners

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.

This award debuted in 2017.

Frances Jones Poetker Award (even years only)

Previous Winners

Recognizes significant contributions to floral design in publications, on the platform, and to the public.

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

H. Marc Cathey Award (even years only)

Previous Winners

Recognizes outstanding scientific research that has enriched the field of horticulture.

Named for H. Marc Cathey, researcher, horticulturist, administrator. Formerly known as the Scientific Award, it was first awarded in 1953.

Jane L. Taylor Award

Previous Winners

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.

Landscape Design Award

Previous Winners

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. Previously given to individual or company.


Meritorious Service Award

Previous Winners

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.

Paul Ecke Jr. Commercial Award

Previous Winners

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.

Professional Award

Previous Winners

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.

Teaching Award

Previous Winners

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.

Other awards offered

Luther Burbank Award (rolling basis)

Previous Winners

Recognizes extraordinary achievement in the field of plant breeding.

Named for Luther Burbank (1849-1926), legendary American plant breeder. First awarded in 1993.

Catherine H. Sweeney Award (rolling basis)

Previous Winners

Recognizes extraordinary and dedicated philanthropic efforts in support of the field of horticulture.

Named for Catherine H. Sweeney (1914-1995), botanist, philanthropist, preservationist. First awarded in 1985.

G. B. Gunlogson Award (rolling basis)

Previous Winners

Recognizes the innovative use of technology to make home gardening more productive and successful.

Named for Gunnlauger Biarni Gunlogson (1887-1983), Engineer, Conservationist.

Horticultural Therapy Award (rolling basis)

Previous Winners

Recognizes significant contributions to the field of horticultural therapy.

First awarded in 1985.