Members Area


2014 GCA Medalists


John H. Bryan, Lake Bluff, IL

Elizabeth Craig Weaver Proctor Medal for exemplary service and creative vision in any field related to The Garden Club of America

John Bryan is a man whose life has been shaped by a passion for the arts, built spaces and the landscapes they inhabit.

He led the effort to transform downtown Chicago with a remarkable urban renewal project, Millennium Park. Inspired in large part by his devotion to the arts, the park was an ambitious collaborative undertaking on the part of world-renowned artists, architects, and landscape architects. Millennium Park provides a venue for hundreds of public cultural programs and attracts four million visitors annually. The brilliant five-acre garden pays homage to the City's motto, "Urbs in Horto", City in a Garden.

John also ensured that Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s masterpiece of modernist domestic architecture, Farnsworth House, remains in Plano, Illinois. Thanks to his leadership, this landmark is jointly owned by The National Trust for Historic Preservation and Landmarks Illinois.

Crab Tree Farm, an historic barn complex of restored Arts and Crafts era buildings, and the Bryan’s home, is the site of one of the last and largest oak savannas in the Midwest. Crab Tree continues as a working farm, now protected from future development in perpetuity. Also preserved there is a 1927 Ellen Biddle Shipman garden. John and his wife Neville were early proponents on the Garden Conservancy Open Days program and are internationally recognized for their generosity in opening their home and museum-quality collections and John Bryan is a truly unique leader. His ability to make connections between artists, donors and preservationists has brought to fruition projects that will have a lasting impact on the cultural and natural landscape that enriches us.

Proposed by: Lake Forest GC, Zone XI

Dr. Edna Grace Knore Claunch, Rochester, NY

Amy Angell Collier Montague Medal for outstanding civic achievement

In 1996 the City of Rochester, NY, asked Edna Grace Claunch to host a delegation from Hamamatsu, Japan. During his visit, the mayor of Hamamatsu mentioned they were hosting the Pacific Flora 2004. Edna became project leader of the Sister City Delegation, and needed a gift to present to Hamamatsu for the Shizuoka International Garden and Horticulture Exhibition Pacific Flora 2004 / Japan. Six million visitors attend this event.

The Iris, a Japanese symbol of art and beauty in everyday life, and its association with the protection of children inspired Edna. At the Society for Louisiana Irises, she learned of a Native American Iris. Edna appealed to top hybridizers for donations and the naming rights for Louisiana Irises to present to the Japanese.

Five Hybridizers from the United States and one from Australia donated nine new cultivars. When the tragedy of September 11, 2001 stopped all air traffic, these unique cultivars sat on a tarmac for weeks before Japanese Scientists received them for propagation for Hamamatsu and the Pacific Flora Exhibition. In June 2004, at Rochester’s Highland Park Dedication Ceremony for the ‘Iris Friendship Garden’, these same nine cultivars and other Louisiana Irises verified the hardiness of these traditionally Southern Irises.

Rochester and Hamamatsu were originally paired as sister cities because of a mutual love of music and culture. With Edna’s vision, they now also share an appreciation of the Louisiana Iris. The international sisterhood from which they evolved is a significant and perennial gift to the world.

Proposed by: Rochester GC, Zone III

Steve Curwood, Somerville, MA

Margaret Douglas Medal for notable service to the cause of conservation education 

Steve Curwood is Executive Producer and Host of Living on Earth. Steve created the first pilot of Living on Earth in the Spring of 1990, and the show has run continuously since April, 1991. Today, Living on Earth with Steve Curwood is aired on more than 300 National Public Radio affiliates in the USA. Steve's relationship with NPR goes back to 1979 when he began as a reporter and host of Weekend All Things Considered. He also hosted NPR's World of Opera. Steve has been a journalist for more than 30 years with experience at NPR, CBS News, the Boston Globe, WBUR-FM/Boston and WGBH-TV/Boston. He shared the 1975 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service as part of the Boston Globe's education team.

Steve Curwood is also the recipient of the 2003 Global Green Award for Media Design, the 2003 David A. Brower Award from the Sierra Club for excellence in environmental reporting and the 1992 New England Environmental Leadership Award from Tufts University for his work on promoting environmental awareness. He is president of the World Media Foundation, Inc. and a Lecturer in Environmental Science and Public Policy at Harvard University. He lives in Southern New Hampshire on a small woodlot with his wife Jennifer and children Noah and Amira, and loves whatever time he can get with his adult progeny, Anastasia and James.

Proposed by: Chestnut Hill GC, Zone I

Susan Detjens, Sheffield, MA

Bonnylin Woods Martin Medal for the most consistently innovative flower designs 

More than generous to others, ever encouraging to the least talented to think outside the box when there is little talent except in her eyes, most loyal of friends to club members old and new, Susan Detjens holds the respect of all around her, serving as a former Club President, Zone III representative and vice chairman on both Judging and Floral Design Committees, and co- Chairman of the 2015 Annual Meeting Flower Show.

While assuming leadership roles, she has carried out an incredibly hectic and productive schedule of teaching and devising new curricula for 101, 201 and 301 Floral Design workshops across the country. Her teaching has won her praise and admiration only to vie with her ability to enter and win blue in major flower shows from Honolulu to Boston.

A gifted painter by training and a floral designer by choice, she employs an aesthetic eye, filled with surprisingly endless new interpretations of asymmetrical balance, color, space and line, often featured in her new design blog Capturing the hearts and attention of many non-floral designers, the name offers a window into her keen sense of humor.

One of the most talented if not original designers in floral design in the country Susan has won two Puckett Creativity Awards and two Fenwick’s, a Munger, Zone III Flower Arranging Education Award (2010), Zone III Barbara Spaulding Cramer Flower Arrangement Award, and Millbrook Garden Club Medal of Merit. She has been an inspirational presence at the Philadelphia Flower Show, winning in 2013 not only a Blue in the Galleria Class, but also Best of the Day and Best of the Week, later highlighted on the cover of By Design. She has won in Houston twice with a top Florist Special Award and in 2011 she was one of twelve USA representatives to win a silver ribbon in the International WAFA Show in Boston.

Endlessly creative she surprises her colleagues with her boundless energy to share, enviable with her creativity genius, and awe inspiring to her audiences-novices and professional, with her blue ribbon ingenuity, aesthetic and structure, and dedication to The Garden Club of America.

Proposed by: Millbrook GC, Zone III

Legacy Parks Foundation, Knoxville, TN

Cynthia Pratt Laughlin Medal for outstanding achievement in environmental protection and the maintenance of quality of life

Legacy Parks Foundation, founded in 2005 by East Tennesseans, serves as an intermediary between private landowners and public parks. Collaborating with local and state agencies, Legacy Parks’ mission is to secure funding for land acquisition, park improvements and recreation programs; accept gifts of land; provide for and maintain greenway and conservation easements; and advocate for parks and outdoor recreation. These aims, as well as goals to preserve ridges and views, protect the health of and access to waterways, and create recreational opportunities for the underserved, have sparked efforts towards completion of a 1,000-acre Urban Wilderness Corridor along Knoxville’s downtown waterfront.

This corridor encompasses ten parks, over forty miles of recreational trails, four civil war sites, historic settlement sites, diverse ecological features and recreational amenities, and Tennessee’s newest state park - Seven Islands Wildlife Refuge. Legacy Parks has championed connections of existing parks by providing easily-navigated hiking and biking trails and promoting events and opportunities designed to encourage East Tennesseans to “get out and play.” The Knoxville Garden Club is a proud partner of Legacy Parks, using a GCA Partners for Plants grant to map, document and clear a part of the corridor named for KGC member and 1995 GCA Amy Angell Collier Montague Medalist, Natalie Haslam. This garden will encourage the protection of abundant native wildflowers and plant material. Carol Evans, the indefatigable Executive Director of Legacy Parks since its inception in 2005, has cast a vision that will help us all “leave East Tennessee better than we found it.”

Proposed by Knoxville GC, Zone IX

Joanne Lenden, Delmar, NY

Achievement Medal in recognition of outstanding achievement and in tribute to creative vision and ability in the interpretation and furtherance of the aims of The Garden Club of America

Humorous, knowledgeable and possessed of indefatigable energy, Joanne Lenden, Fort Orange Garden Club, has championed the mission of GCA for thirty years.

At the club, zone and national level, she worked with, led and mentored a generation of GCA horticulturists, judges, photographers and historians. In every position, she provided creative leadership, systemic achievement and lifelong friendship. As a GCA horticulture speaker, she traveled to clubs in every zone, a Johnny Appleseed for subjects ranging from plant propagation and conditioning, flower arranging, flower shows, photography, judging and the world of GCA. In every encounter, she added vignettes from GCA’s past, always encouraging clubs and zones to carefully archive their history. She published and distributed little booklets for every club and project that crossed her path. She authored Flowers for Bouquets: Conditioning Plant Material for Flower Arranging, a resource valued by growers and arrangers everywhere. As GCA Historian, she interviewed past leaders and collected, researched and delivered a carload of documents for the GCA archives.

Joanne is an emeritus judge of great experience in both horticulture and photography. She has won numerous GCA awards, including two Freeman Medals. She has been a tireless advocate and worker for the GCA Plant Exchange, for Photography, for a broader participation in Visiting Gardens, for the GCA Judging Program, for GCA’s history and, especially, for flower shows.

Joanne’s greatest gifts to GCA must be her enthusiasm and generous heart, her understanding of the importance of friendship and, above all, her absolute joy in gardening.

Proposed by: Fort Orange GC, Zone III

Mary Stone Phipps, Westbury, NY

Distinguished Service Medal for distinguished service in the field of horticulture

Mary Stone Phipps served on the Board of Old Westbury Gardens since it first opened to the public in 1959, was President from 1978 to 1994, and Chairman from 1994 to 2012. Mary’s sensitive and vigilant stewardship has been a key element in preserving and maintaining one of this country’s most significant examples of a public garden that has never lost its original contours of horticultural excellence. Her involvement spans the transition of Westbury House from a private home to a public venue and listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Through solid strategic planning, Mary oversaw various stages of renovation and horticultural evolution that give Old Westbury Gardens its continued freshness and exuberance. Her actions can be counted as being of inestimable benefit for present and future generations who now enjoy Old Westbury Gardens as a publicly accessible house and landscape, a place to learn about gardening, plants, architecture and the decorative arts.

In her role as Chairman, Mary has ensured that Old Westbury Gardens remains a strong and sustainable organization. Under her guidance, in just the last 10 years, some remarkable long-term projects have been accomplished. These include GIS mapping of the entire property with an inventory of all trees, the completion of a cultural landscape report, the creation of a stand-alone educational department and the formalizing of plans to convert a historic Quaker barn on the property into an education center.

Of particular note is the role Mary has played in land acquisition. Working with NY State and Nassau County, development rights have been purchased and easements established over 100 additional acres, including an assemblage of historic buildings, which has also aided in the protection of ground water in an important aquifer recharge area.

Mary’s leadership has been exemplified by good cheer and mutual collaboration. One of her legacies has been the building of an organization based on appreciation and respect.

Proposed by: North Country GC of Long Island, Zone III

Will Raap, Shelburne, NY

Medal of Honor for outstanding service to horticulture 

Will Raap has made a lifetime commitment to our land and water through restorative farming and gardening as professions or hobbies. As his first project, Mr. Raap restored the historic Intervale in Burlington, VT, a municipal dump site on the banks of the Winooski River, by removing trash and composting the soil returning it to its’ agricultural roots.

The Gardener's Supply, a business created by Mr. Raap at the Intervale, teaches people to control pests organically, start seeds, restore top soil, recycle waste and garden comfortably with proper tools. Raap’s intent is to assist the average gardener to use his land optimally without adverse environmental impact: demonstrating sustainable action at the local level the business potential of integrated ecological waste treatment and positive use of limited natural resources.

When Gardeners Supply was turned over to his 350 employees, Will Raap, armed with a degree in Economics and an MA in Business and Urban Planning, founded a non-profit organization called Intervale Center. The Center develops enterprises that generate economic and social opportunity while protecting natural resources.

In Costa Rica, Mr. Raap is creating two projects in the Restoring Our Watershed program to restore economic development, wildlife habitat, and education. Mi Terra, cooperative of organic farms, nurseries and food processors produces and distributes products. Tierra Pacifica, a ten acre organic farm in Costa Rico uses Mayan “chinampas” and sunken beds to optimize harvest in the monsoon season while capturing rain and retaining water for the dry season.

Proposed by: Akron GC, Zone X

Nelda C. and H.J. Lutcher Stark Foundation, Orange, TX

Historic Preservation Medal for outstanding work in the field of preservation and restoration of historic gardens or buildings of national importance

The Nelda C. and H.J. Lutcher Stark Foundation continues the legacy of its founders, H.J. Lutcher Stark and his wife Nelda Childers Stark, through its various programs, providing the community and region with rich resources and opportunities for study and enjoyment of the arts, history and nature. To fulfill its mission, the Stark Foundation operates several venues, including two of special historical significance, Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center and the W.H. Stark House Museum.

In the1940s Lutcher Stark created the gardens, named for the mystical land in the best-selling Lost Horizon. Present-day Shangri La reflects and preserves the aspirations of its founder and offers visitors a new restored paradise. As one of the most earth-friendly projects in the world, Shangri La was the first project in Texas and the 50th in the world to earn the U. S. Green Building Council’s Platinum certification for LEED-NC. Shangri La’s motto reflects its philosophy: “Be Kind to Your World.”

The W.H. Stark House is an impressive and successful effort by the Foundation to preserve the Stark’s historic home, replicating the times and imagery of affluent life in Southeast Texas at the turn of the 20th century. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and as a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark. Because the Starks were lifelong collectors of fine art and art objects, the house abounds with a wealth of priceless items. Especially significant is the fact that all the home’s furnishings are original to the Stark family.

 Proposed by: Magnolia GC, Zone IX

Ralph R. White, Richmond, VA

Frances K. Hutchinson Medal for distinguished service to conservation 

With dedication and unflinching determination Ralph R. White has shown the nation how a river suffering from decades, even centuries, of abuse can be restored to such an extent that the city through which it runs was named “Best River Town” in the country. That happened in 2012 when “Outside Magazine” named Richmond, Virginia the best river town in the nation. The James River, which flows from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Chesapeake Bay, forms a surprisingly wild and rugged seven-mile ribbon through the heart of Richmond. For more than a century it held the dubious distinction of being one of the most polluted waterways in the country.

That changed with the arrival of Ralph White 33 years ago. As the James River Park manager he realized that the river could become a magnet for wholesome recreational activity. In lieu of adequate funding, he empowered hordes of local volunteers and woke up the heart of downtown to an unmatched urban wilderness where whitetail deer, bald eagles and great blue herons coexist with Class IV boaters, rock climbers, trail runners, anglers, bird-watchers and mountain bikers. This miraculous turnaround has led to the return of a small, but genetically distinct, population of Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus kennicotti), a fish nearly extinct for almost 100 years and found nowhere else in the world.

The James River is not just any river. It is the nation’s Founding River. People from all walks of life have been brought closer to the majesty of nature in a park on an urban waterway that is now the best in the nation, thanks to Ralph White.

Proposed by The Tuckahoe GC of Westhampton, Zone VII