Conversations with Great American Gardeners 

The American Horticultural Society is pleased to announce the return of its national speaker series featuring current and past winners of the Great American Gardeners Awards and Book Awards. Since 1953, the AHS has been using these award programs to recognize and celebrate horticultural champions that represent the best in American gardening. This dedicated webinar series will provide an additional spotlight on these outstanding individuals. 

Each live program will be hosted by Holly Shimizu, former executive director of the United States Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C. and an AHS board member, who will lead a lively and engaging conversation with speakers that will tap into their knowledge and experience. The interactive program format will allow audience members to ask questions of the guests. 

Registration is free. RSVP is required.

Wednesday, May 10 at 7pm ET: Dr. Doug Tallamy, University of Delaware
Winner of the B.Y. Morrison Communication Award (2018)

Doug Tallamy is the T. A. Baker Professor of Agriculture in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware, where he has authored 111 research publications and has taught insect related courses for 41 years.

Chief among his research goals is to better understand the many ways insects interact with plants and how such interactions determine the diversity of animal communities. His books include Bringing Nature Home, The Living Landscape, co-authored with Rick Darke, Nature’s Best Hope, a New York Times Best Seller, The Nature of Oaks, winner of the American Horticultural Society’s 2022 book award.    

In 2021 he cofounded Homegrown National Park with Michelle Alfandari. His awards include recognition from The Garden Writer’s Association, Audubon, The National Wildlife Federation, Allegheny College, Ecoforesters, The Garden Club of America and The American Horticultural Association.  


Wednesday, June 14 at 7pm ET: Ira Wallace, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange
Winner of the Paul Ecke Jr. Commercial Award (2019)

Ira Wallace is a worker/owner of the cooperatively managed Southern Exposure Seed Exchange ( which offers over 700 varieties of open-pollinated heirloom and organic seeds selected for flavor and regional adaptability. Ira serves on the boards of the Organic Seed Alliance, and the Virginia Association for Biological Farming.

She is a member of Acorn Community which farms over 60 acres of certified organic land in Central Virginia. Ira is a cofounder of the Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello, [] a fun, family-friendly event featuring an old-time seed swap, local food, hands-on workshops and demos, and more. She also writes about heirloom vegetables and seed saving for magazines and blogs including Mother Earth News, Fine Gardening and Southern Exposure.

She was named a 2019 Great American Gardener by the American Horticultural Society and is a 2023 James Beard Foundation Leadership Award Finalist. She is author of the Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Southeast. Her new state specific book series including, Grow Great Vegetables in Virginia, are available online and at booksellers everywhere. Ira is currently working on creating an African Diasporic Seed Collection. 


Wednesday, August 23 at 7pm ET: Dr. Lucinda McDade, California Botanic Garden and Claremont Graduate University
Winner of the Liberty Hyde Bailey Award (2021) 

Lucinda McDade joined Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden (dba California Botanic Garden, CalBG) in 2006 as the Judith B. Friend Director of Research and chair of the Botany Department at Claremont Graduate University. Since 2012, she has also served as the Garden’s Executive Director. She also serves as the Chair of the Botany Department at Claremont Graduate University (CGU) which collaborates with CalBG to offer a graduate program in the plant sciences.  McDade’s research focuses on the large and charismatic plant family Acanthaceae, on the role of hybridization in plant evolutionary history and phylogeny reconstruction, and on plant reproductive biology. She has conducted extensive field work including throughout the Americas, South Africa, Namibia and Madagascar. She has also worked extensively in herbaria in western Europe and elsewhere. McDade’s work has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, Andrew Mellon Foundation, Fletcher Jones Foundation, and more. She has conducted numerous NSF-funded research projects, including curation and preservation of plant collections, understanding constraints on floral evolution, comparative biology in a phylogenetic age, and harnessing the power of herbaria to understand the changing flora of California. McDade has been an invited speaker at many venues including universities and professional conferences.  

Before joining CalBG and CGU, McDade was professor and herbarium curator at the University of Arizona from 1992 to 2000, then served as associate curator and chair of botany at the Academy of Natural Sciences until 2006. McDade’s appointments and honors include recipient of the Liberty Hyde Bailey Award from the American Horticultural Society; Merit Award honoree, Botanical Society of America (2013); recipient of the Asa Gray award, American Society of Plant Taxonomists (2019); president, American Society of Plant Taxonomists (2003–2004); Melinda F. Denton Memorial Lecturer, University of Washington (1998); president, Association for Tropical Biology (1995); and membership in Sigma Xi (1980). She served two terms, ending in 2022, as treasurer of the Botanical Society of America (BSA), the largest professional society of plant scientists in the United States. McDade serves on the Board of Trustees of the Center for Plant Conservation and has been a member of the Landscape Architecture Accreditation Board.