Members Area


2018 GCA National Medalists

Diana Deas Barrow and Craig Barrow III

Savannah, Georgia

The Margaret Douglas Medal is awarded for notable service to the cause of conservation education. The medal was designed by Art Deco sculptor Rene P. Chambellan in 1952. It was presented and endowed by Mrs. Robert. D. Sterling, Garden Club of Dublin and Monadnock Garden Club, New Hampshire, to honor Mrs. Walter Douglas, a member-at-large. Previous winners include author and environmentalist Marjory Stoneman Douglas (1990), documentary filmmaker Bill Kurtis (1997), and educator Katy Moss Warner (2002).

In 1736, Wormsloe, a plantation near Savannah, was granted to Noble Jones. For nearly 300 years, the family has resided at Wormsloe; Diana and Craig Barrow are the ninth generation of the family to live there. In 2007, the Barrows created The Wormsloe Institute for Environmental History on the 1,500-acre site, preserving the site for future generations, while supporting research and educational programming.  

The Wormsloe Scientific Advisory Council (WSAC) collaborates with faculty and graduate students from the University of Georgia. Scholars at The Wormsloe Institute examine ecology, cultural history, and historical land-use practices through the lens of environmental history. Historical insights are applied to modern conservation. The many projects being conducted at Wormsloe include an active archaeological site, studies of parasites in crabs, pollinator research, soil studies, an innovative GIS mapping project, and a study of endangered gopher tortoises.  

The Wormsloe historic site and The Wormsloe Institute for Environmental History both serve as examples to guide similar properties. The Barrows have hosted many groups who come to study the model. Knowledge is also shared with the local community through educational gatherings at Wormsloe. The personal relationship of Diana and Craig with scientists, faculty, students, and visitors enriches the experience for all concerned.  

With their generosity and creative vision, Diana and Craig Barrow inspire others. By establishing the Wormsloe Institute for Environmental History, Wormsloe will continue to reach out to the community and provide opportunities for research and service for generations to come.  

Proposed by: Trustees' Garden Club, Zone VIII

Former First Lady Laura W. Bush

Dallas, Texas

The Achievement Medal is awarded 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. The achievement may be in science, history, literature, practice of horticulture, in the art of landscape gardening, or in the field of civic planting, where distinction of accomplishment has been of national influence in promoting higher standards of public taste. The medal was designed in 1932 by Paul Manship and presented by Mrs. Henry Osborn Taylor, Middletown Garden Club, Zone II. It was endowed in 1963 by a member of the Garden Club of Somerset Hills, Zone IV. Previous recipients include Nancy Stallworth Thomas (2003), Emma White Seymour (2009), Jan Pratt (2012), Shirley Meneice (2013).

Former First Lady Laura W. Bush is a catalyst, connector, and communicator on behalf of America’s environment and natural resources, especially our national parks. Possessing a love of nature and a devotion to conservation, she has championed action to protect, preserve, and enjoy our nation’s treasures.

During her eight years as First Lady, she promoted the NPS Junior Rangers Program encouraging youth to “explore, learn and protect.”  She initiated multiple conservation-oriented programs: Preserve America designed to safeguard and restore cultural and natural resources; First Bloom, an educational program that gives urban students the opportunity to explore parkland and learn about native and invasive plants; and the Marine Debris Initiative to inform the public about the benefits of cleaning up our waterways and oceans, and the devastating effects litter has on sea life. 

Returning to Texas in 2009, Mrs. Bush persisted in her conservation work. She designed a 15-acre urban park at the George W. Bush Presidential Center located on the campus of SMU in Dallas. The building was awarded LEED Platinum certification for being environmentally friendly and surrounded by the beauty of Texas native plants: grasses, wildflower meadows, and a floodplain forest.

From 2015-2016, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, she served with then First Lady Michelle Obama as the honorary co-chairman of the National Park Service Centennial Celebration. Mrs. Bush is also the founder of Texan by Nature which aligns the broad interests of conservation groups with business, health care, schools, faith-based organizations, and scientific communities.

Her projects have been far-reaching, educating the general public and governments on the importance of critical conservation initiatives and environmental concepts.

Proposed by: Founders Garden Club of Dallas, Zone IX

Stephen F. Byrns

Yonkers, New York

The Historic Preservation Medal is awarded for outstanding work in the field of preservation and/or restoration of historic gardens or buildings of national importance. The medal was designed in 1973 by Joseph Kiselewski of New York City and presented and endowed by Mrs. John Leddy-Jones, Founders Garden Club of Dallas, Zone IX, and Mrs. Leonard Kirby, Jupiter Island Garden Club, Zone VIII. Previous recipients include Dr. William Seale, Jr. (2004), J. Reid Williamson (2006), Peter J. Hatch (2011), The Garden Conservancy (2012).

In 1915, Samuel Untermyer hired Welles Bosworth, a famous Beaux-Arts landscape architect, to create a magnificent garden for his mansion on a site overlooking the Hudson River and the Palisades. The Persian walled gardens with water features, Greek columns, and a Temple of Love became one of the most important private gardens of the early 20th century. After the Depression and Untermyer’s death in 1940, the mansion was razed; the gardens, which had needed 60 gardeners for maintenance, were in ruins. In 1946 the land was given to the city of Yonkers and became a public park. The gardens were abandoned.

In the 1990s, Stephen Byrns, a founding partner of BKSK Architects in Manhattan, first visited the skeletal remains of the Untermyer Gardens, languishing within a dilapidated park in a city strapped for resources. Upon researching the former rich history of Untermyer’s estate, Steve envisioned plans to restore the once famous gardens. Over the next 15 years, as Steve pursued his career, he continued to dream.

In 2010, Steve began in earnest and within a few short years had established a conservancy, recruited a board of directors, negotiated a public/private agreement with the City of Yonkers, and secured funding to replant the walled garden and install deer fencing around the 43 acres.

Since then, restoration has continued at an energetic pace such that under Steve’s inspiring and creative leadership, the once-neglected gardens have now been restored to national prominence. With visitors from around the world, the Untermyer Gardens have again become a crown jewel of the city of Yonkers.

Proposed by: The Little Garden Club of Rye and Millbrook Garden Club, Zone III

May H. Pierce

Dedham, Massachusetts

The Natalie Peters Webster Medal is awarded to members and member clubs for finding unusual plant material, encouraging its creative use, and assuring its availability. The Natalie Peters Webster Medal was endowed by the family and friends of Mrs. Charles D. Webster, a former president of The Garden Club of America. Mrs. Webster was an eminent horticulturist, a leader and, with her husband, a recipient of the GCA Achievement Medal for growing and showing their plant material. Previous winners of the Natalie Peters Webster Medal include William Pannill (1999), Allen C. Haskell (1995), The Garden Club of Houston (1989), and Mrs. Harry Hull (1985).

May H. "Polly" Pierce has made her life’s work the conservation of North American flora. Through her efforts and generous support, she has ensured that future generations can enjoy our beloved native wildflowers.

Polly is one of the founders and past presidents of the Center for Plant Conservation (CPC), which was started in 1984 in an attic of the Arnold Arboretum with the mission to save North American plant species from extinction. She has also been a long serving member of the board and past president of the New England Wild Flower Society, the nation’s oldest plant conservation organization. As president of NEWFS, Polly collaborated with the CPC to endow and reintroduce Potentilla robbinsiana, dwarf mountain cinquefoil, to Mt. Washington, NH. These pivotal restoration efforts  eventually facilitated the plant’s removal from the endangered species list.  

Polly and her late husband, Dan, made significant contributions to important land conservation objectives on Maine’s Mt. Desert Island. They worked with the Maine Coast Heritage Trust to protect substantial shoreline portions of Somes Pond and provide staunch support for conservation efforts on Sutton Island. They have also been generous patrons of The Trustees of Reservations (TTOR), the nation’s oldest statewide land trust and conservation organization. The Pierces created the TTOR Charles Eliot Endowment Fund, which supports outreach to urban communities for the benefit of enjoying the beauty and refreshing power of outdoor spaces.

In addition to her incredible plant and land conservation legacy, Polly is a dedicated gardener opening and sharing her gardens, wildflowers, and knowledge with all.

Proposed by: Noanett Garden Club, Zone I

Save The Bay

San Francisco, California

The Cynthia Pratt Laughlin Medal is awarded for outstanding achievement in environmental protection and the maintenance of the quality of life. The medal was designed by sculptor, Charles Parks in 1979; it was endowed by Mrs. William K. Laughlin of the Southampton Garden Club, Zone III. Previous winners include Patrick F. Noonan (1984), the Outdoor Circle of Hawaii (1985), Wendell E. Berry (2008), U.S. Green Building Council (2009), Rossie Fisher (2012).

San Francisco Bay is the largest estuary in western North America, covering 1,600 square miles, abutting nine counties and many municipalities.

The Bay is crucial to migrating birds and sea life, home to 400 species of wildlife including 105 threatened or endangered species. By the late 1950s, landfill had destroyed 90% of the tidal marsh and 30 local municipalities dispersed city garbage into the Bay.

In 1961, there were no environmental laws or agencies, no successful models of citizen advocacy for urban conservation and men dominated official power. Inspired by the beauty of the Bay and determined to protect it from landfill and pollution, three women formed Save The Bay. They mobilized citizens, worked with local business owners, politicians and concerned citizens to protect the Bay. They lobbied for a moratorium that stopped the filling in of the Bay, the prohibition of releasing raw sewage into the Bay, and the closure of the 30 city garbage dumps along the shoreline.

Save The Bay reduced trash by promoting a ban on single-use plastic shopping bags and won tough regulations against storm water pollution. Save The Bay led a successful regional vote to raise $500 million for Bay wetlands and has engaged thousands of local residents in hands-on habitat restoration. Hundreds of miles of trails and parks have been created along the shoreline.

For fifty-seven years, Save The Bay has given San Francisco Bay a voice. Its 50,000 members and supporters work together to make positive changes in their communities, balancing the needs of the environment with desires and demands of the 7,000,000 residents of the Bay Area.

Proposed by: Woodside-Atherton Garden Club, Zone XII

Save the Redwoods League

San Francisco, California

The Elizabeth Craig Weaver Proctor Medal is awarded to non-members for exemplary service and creative vision in any field related to The Garden Club of America’s special interests. The medal has the GCA logo lamp on one side and the citation on the other. It was endowed by the Elizabeth Craig Weaver Proctor Charitable Foundation in 2003. Previous recipients are Lady Bird Johnson (2006), The Newman Family & Newman’s Own Foundation (2009), Dr. Wes Jackson (2012), John H. Bryan (2014).

In 1918, concerned citizens formed Save the Redwoods League to protect the old-growth Sequoia sempervirens (coast redwood) and Sequoiadendron giganteum (giant sequoia) forests that had survived the Gold Rush and California’s explosive demand for timber. Over the following decades the League, its members, and dedicated partners saved what remained of the ancient redwood forest lands. Today, more than 200,000 acres of contiguous old-growth forest are protected, with groves of giant sequoia and coast redwood.                                                                                                              


© Permission required for reprint, sale, or commerical use. Contact Save the Redwoods League. 

Included within the protected acres is the 5,100-acre Garden Club of America Grove, located within Humboldt Redwoods State Park. The protection of this grove began in the 1930s when the GCA partnered with the League to purchase four parcels. Over the ensuing years the League, the GCA, and the California State Parks Department collaborated to protect lands surrounding this initial acreage. In 2014, with support from GCA clubs and members, “Bridge the Gap” campaign funds were raised to fulfill the GCA’s portion of land acquisition costs, and to restore and reopen the River Trail.

In the 1920s, the League helped form the California State Park system, creating and expanding more than 40 state parks and encouraging the public to discover these remarkable places. In recent years League-sponsored, innovative scientific studies have revealed the importance of the redwood and sequoia forests in mitigating climate change and have led to improved practices in forest stewardship and restoration.

For 100 years, the League has served to protect and restore these forests and connect people with their peace and beauty so that these wonders of the natural world may flourish.

Proposed by: Piedmont Garden Club, Zone XII

Mary Jo Strawbridge 

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The Katharine Thomas Cary Medal is awarded in recognition of outstanding achievement in the field of floral design education. The medal was designed by Karl Gruppe in 1955 and endowed by the New Canaan Garden Club, Zone II in memory of their member, Mrs. William H. Cary. Previous recipients include Catherine Beattie (1993), Janet Moon (2002), Kit Barker (2003), Bonny Martin (2012).

Mary Jo Strawbridge has distinguished herself as a teacher of floral design, nationally and internationally. Mary Jo educates by example: she exhibits in flower shows from Philadelphia to the World Association of Floral Artists (WAFA) in Ireland.. Her exhibits are unique and creative. Her mechanics are skillful and methodically crafted. Other judges, her students, and those who view her entries at shows revere her designs.

Mary Jo has the initiative and determination to stay current with modern designs while never losing the framework of the principles and elements of design. She is a model GCA Floral Design Judge who fulfills the role by sharing, teaching, and mentoring. Her extensive knowledge is often on display in her entertaining lectures and workshops. Her contagious and self-deprecating humor endears her to her students. Mary Jo is approachable, kind, and generous with the ability to captivate her audience when she is teaching.

She is an exceptionally organized and effective leader. Mary Jo’s workshops for her own club became the model for the WAFA International Floral Design Workshops and the widely acclaimed GCA zone workshops: Flower Arranging 101, 201, and 301. She helped initiate and served as one of the first editors of the GCA magazine, By Design. GCA club members from across the country are able to explore the latest in floral design through fascinating articles and photographs.

By educating members with the newest trends, encouraging greater participation in flower shows, and sharing her personal joy in arranging flowers, Mary Jo has played a major role in bringing GCA flower arranging into the 21st century.

Proposed by: The Garden Workers, Zone V

Virginia L. Tietjens

Zionsville, Pennsylvania

The Bonnylin Woods Martin Medal is presented for the most consistently innovative floral designs. The purpose of the medal is to recognize flower arrangers at the highest level and to encourage their participation in GCA and international flower shows. The Bonnylin Woods Martin Medal was designed by S. Paul West and endowed by Audrey Taylor Gonzales in honor of Mrs. Martin, Memphis Garden Club (IX), a distinguished flower arranger, judge and former chairman of the flower show committee. The Martin Medal was first awarded in 1998. Previous recipients include Ann Hamilton Bucknall (1998), Helen Goddard (2004), Jane Godshalk (2008), Susan Detjens (2014).

Possessing passion for innovative flower design combined with a meticulous execution, Virginia "Ginnie" Lee Tietjens’ virtuosity has been a part of the fine art of floral design for nearly 40 years. Whether creative or traditional, in a niche or on a pedestal, her designs are a display of natural elegance highlighted with a new and unexpected twist. Across a range of styles, her floral designs always exhibit distinction and sensitivity and have garnered numerous awards, including two Harriett DeWaele Puckett Awards.

She is respected by her peers, is a sought-after lecturer on innovative floral design, and shares her abundant talents most generously with others. As a judge Ginnie has the ability to evaluate designs and provide insightful comments that will motivate and inspire the exhibitor. Both as an artisan and an organizer, Ginnie’s creativity and enthusiasm have been a part of the prestigious world-class production of the Philadelphia Flower Show for over three decades.

In 2002, Ginnie disclosed her secrets about niche backgrounds in “Here’s the Scoop on Backgrounds,” in By Design. Her work is included in The Philadelphia Flower Show: Celebrating 175 Years by Adam Levine and Ray Rogers and in The Fine Art of Flower Arranging by Nancy D’Oench and Bonnie Martin. An invaluable member of the Zone V Flower Arranging 101, 201, and 301 teams, she has an insatiable desire to share her knowledge and enjoys helping novice and experienced designers reach new goals.

Her thorough mastery of design and her contagious visionary spirit have inspired many young designers to follow in her footsteps.

Proposed by: Huntingdon Valley Garden Club, Zone V

Chipper Wichman

Kalaheo, Kauai

The Medal of Honor is awarded for outstanding service to horticulture. The medal was designed in 1920 by sculptor John Flanagan who also designed the U.S. quarter dollar coin, first issued in 1932. The medal was endowed in 1963 by the Bedford Garden Club, Zone III, in memory of their member, Mrs. Arthur Marvin Anderson. Previous recipients include Michael Dirr (1993), Daniel J. Hinkley (2004), James Folsom (2007), American Chestnut Foundation (2013).

Growing up in Hawaii, Chipper Wichman developed a love for Hawaiian plants which led to a life pursuing the discovery and conservation of tropical plants and their habitats. He is an intrepid horticulturist and field collector, rappelling down cliffs to rescue rare indigenous plants and then propagating these endangered Hawaiian species. As the president, director, and CEO of the National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG), he has built an internationally renowned resource for horticulture education, research and the preservation of endangered plants, and the heritage they represent. NTBG has the world's largest collection of federally listed endangered plant species.

Headquartered on the “Garden Island” of Kauai, NTBG consists of four gardens on three Hawaiian Islands plus Kampong, located south of Miami, FL. In addition, there are five preserves for native species in the Hawaiian Islands. With his wife, Hau’oli, Chipper donated 998 acres to create one of these preserves.

During his 33 years at NTBG, he has become an internationally-recognized voice for conservation and sustainability issues. Through the efforts of Chipper, the 2016 World Conservation Congress of the International Union for Conservation of Nature assembled in Hawaii, the first time to convene in the U.S. during its 68-year history.

He serves on numerous councils and committees, writes extensively about conservation and horticulture, and travels the world in support of saving the planet’s most precious assets.

His life’s work has been to protect the land and to educate others to do the same. He is truly a global leader in horticulture and conservation.

Proposed by: The Garden Club of Honolulu, Zone XII

Thomas L. Woltz

Charlottesville, Virginia

The Elvira Broome Doolan Medal is in recognition of innovative work in landscape architecture with emphasis on city planning and civic improvement in urban areas. The Elvira Broome Doolan Medal was designed by Charles Parker in 1991. The estate of Mrs. Doolan's husband, Mr. Jerome K. Doolan, endowed the medal in her memory. Previous recipients include: Lynden Miller (1993), Margaret & Trammell Crow (2002), City of Chattanooga & 21st Century Waterfall Project (1999). 

Through a wide variety of projects, Thomas L. Woltz has demonstrated the abilities of landscape architecture to greatly improve the lives of people. The innovative concepts of his firm, Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects (NBW), have led to substantial improvements in the health of landscapes across three continents.  For each project, designing begins with careful on-site study, researching the cultural landscape history of the location, from geological formation to plant communities to microclimates, and examining such specifics as the hybrid socio-ecological urban systems of storm-water runoff. He creates urban spaces that provide healthy habitat for plants and animals as well as beauty and functionality for people.  

To cultivate the ecological restoration of farmland, Thomas founded the Conservation Agriculture Studio at NBW (ConAg). As an advocate for the preservation of agricultural land, he engages farmers, conservation biologists, and landscape ecologists to reforest land, reconstruct wetlands and native meadows, and reduce nonpoint source pollution, while making farmland more productive.  

His achievement at Nick’s Head Station in New Zealand has become a global model for sustainable land management, planting 600,000 trees to help deal with land erosion and creating a 75-acre wetland with both freshwater and salt marsh lagoons to increase biodiversity. At Houston’s Memorial Park, a 1,500-acre park near downtown, flood and drought resistant plantings recognize the locale’s Civil War and WWI history and helped mitigate Hurricane Harvey.

The scale and audacity of his projects will have a lasting societal and ecological impact for generations to come. He has elevated the discipline of landscape architecture to a new standard.

Proposed by: Albemarle Garden Club, Zone VII