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The GCA Plant of the Year: Montine McDaniel Freeman Medal

History and Goals

The Freeman Medal, the only award the GCA gives to a plant, acknowledges the cultivation and use of native plants.

In 1995, the Medal was given to the GCA in honor of Montine McDaniel Freeman by her family. This annual award may be given to a tree, shrub, ground cover, vine or perennial that is under-utilized but worthy of preservation, propagation and promotion. The medal is awarded to an herbaceous plant in the even years, and to a tree or shrub in the odd years. As vines may fall into either category, please consult the GCA Horticulture Committee with any questions:

The goals of the Freeman Medal are to:

  • draw attention to select native plants and their cultivars
  • encourage their use in the landscape
  • make them familiar to the gardener
  • make more available in nurseries

Each year a plant will be selected from the nominations by the Plant of the Year Selection Committee. The committee is comprised of a chair, plus 3 to 5 leading and nationally renowned horticulturists and experts in the nursery trade. The award is accepted at the GCA annual meeting by the group or individual nominating the plant. 

The Nomination Process

  • Contact before beginning the nomination process.
    • This is to ensure that your plant is not already being considered.
    • If there are multiple nominations, the one received first will take precedence.
  • Nominations will be accepted between March 1st and December 1st in the year preceding the award presentation.
  • Completed portfolios (including nomination form and photos) should be submitted by December 1st of the year preceding the annual meeting when the medal is to be awarded.
  • Incomplete portfolios will not be considered.
  • One medal will be awarded each year.
  • Non-winning plants may be submitted for 3 successive years (following the alternate year system). However, another person can nominate the same plant – i.e., a proposer does not “own” the nomination rights to a particular plant, even if he/she has nominated it before.
  • Plants that have received an Honorable Mention may not be re-nominated for the Freeman Award.
  • A nominated plant must:
    • be an outstanding or unusual species or cultivar of a North American native plant (in the case of a hybrid, at least one-half of the plant’s parentage must be native to North America)
    • display attributes that enhance the landscape, are attractive to wildlife, and/or are effective environmental plants, e.g. those that control erosion
    • not be readily available for landscape use in at least one major portion of the country, but must be in propagation for commercial distribution

If you have any questions about the process or would like to receive a nomination form, contact: