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The Garden Club of America’s 2023 Annual Meeting


May 31, 2023

Nearly six hundred attendees gather to celebrate “Where the Wild Things Are”

The Garden Club of America’s 2023 Annual Meeting was held in Columbus, Ohio on May 21-24.  Nearly six hundred attendees enjoyed informative workshops, inspirational speakers, delightful garden tours, and a stunning flower show inspired by Maurice Sendak’s classic children’s book Where the Wild Things Are.

Ten new national medalists were announced at Tuesday’s award luncheon. These included photographer Carlton Ward Jr., landscape architecture educator Darrel Morrison, architect Robert J. Berkebile, historic preservation scholar Staci L. Catron, and filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg.  Floral designer Carole Maida Bailey welcomed everyone by saying, “we all speak ‘flower.’”  Landscape designer Roy Diblik encouraged attendees to “share with people what they don’t know, because they don’t know what they don’t know.” 

Famed professional golfer and conservation pioneer, Jack Nicklaus, shared that he views the golf courses his firm designs as “large gardens” and tries to remain a diligent steward of the land that surrounds them. “Our legacy is to leave something better than we found it.” 

Medals were also awarded to the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Ohio Sea Grant and Ohio State University’s Stone Lab.

Attendees participated in a business meeting led by GCA president Debbie Oliver. There they heard from GCA scholar and landscape ecologist, Andrew Sell, as well as new Honorary Members Michael Dosmann, John Turner, and Sam Hodder. Keynote speaker Ruskin Hartley, CEO and executive director of the International Dark-Sky Association gave an “illuminating” presentation about light pollution and its effect on all living things. Various committee members participated in panel discussions about aspects of the GCA. At the conclusion of the meeting, Oliver passed her gavel to Marilyn Donahue, GCA’s incoming president.

Workshops on gardening for moths and the ancient American Indian complexes known as The Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks enlightened attendees. Garden tours to several prominent public gardens, including the Ohio Heritage Garden at the Ohio Governor’s Residence, showcased spring blooms. First Lady Fran DeWine greeted attendees and shared a “story walk” that led visitors through the garden. The charming path features vignettes from Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit stories—many constructed by Mrs. DeWine herself. 

A wild rumpus was had by all!


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