Members Area



May 23, 2019

10 remarkable leaders recognized for their achievements in conservation, horticulture, and more


Dr. Paul Alan Cox
Jackson, Wyoming

The Eloise Payne Luquer Medal is awarded for special achievement in the field of botany that may include medical research, the fine arts, or education and was presented with gratitude to a renowned ethnobotanist, consummate scientist, teacher, environmentalist, and activist, Dr. Paul Alan Cox. His compassion combined with his rigorous scientific methods are improving our world. 

Paul Alan Cox, PhD, one of the world’s pre-eminent ethnobotanists, studies how native cultures use indigenous plants to treat diseases. Leaving a distinguished academic career, he spent three years in Samoa where he discovered a promising drug candidate for HIV/AIDS from the bark of a Samoan tree. Dr. Cox established Seacology Foundation, an environmental organization that has preserved 98,000 acres of rainforest and 1.7 million acres of coral reefs on islands throughout the world. Dr. Cox then turned his focus to neurodegenerative diseases, comparing patterns of disease and wellness in island villages to discover causes and treatments. In Guam, he and his colleagues made discoveries that led to advanced clinical trials for a possible treatment for ALS, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s. Dr. Cox is founder and executive director of Brain Chemistry Labs, a not-for-profit organization in Jackson Hole with a consortium of 50 scientists working to further this research. His compassion for humanity, his scientific research and his groundbreaking achievements are changing the world.

Proposed by Suzanne Bissell, Perennial Garden Club, Zone VI

Dr. Cary Fowler
Rhinebeck, New York

The Elizabeth Craig Weaver Proctor Medal is awarded for exemplary service and creative vision in any field related to The Garden Club of America’s special interests and was presented to Dr. Cary Fowler for his visionary leadership role in creating Svalbard Global Seed Vault, thus safeguarding world seed crop diversity and providing food security for future generations.

Cary Fowler, PhD, a global advocate for crop diversity conservation, has dedicated his professional life to protecting seeds, the plant genetic resources of the planet. His work at the United Nations led to the first global assessment of the state of the world’s crop diversity and the Global Plan of Action for Plant Genetic Resources, adopted by 150 countries in 1996.

Dr. Fowler is best known as the father of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, established in 2008. The Seed Vault serves as the ultimate backup for seed banks around the world, storing over 400,000,000 seeds of one million unique crop varieties and representing 13,000 years of agriculture. In current and future efforts to combat insects, disease, and changing weather patterns, the diversity of genetic material protected in the Seed Vault is essential.Former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon described the Seed Vault as an “inspirational symbol of peace and food security for the entire humanity.”

Proposed by Memphis Garden Club, Zone IX


Dr. David Gallo
Falmouth, Massachusetts

The Frances K. Hutchinson Medal is awarded for distinguished service to conservation and was presented to Dr. David Gallo for his scientific discoveries, his technological developments, and his flair for communication have shaped our knowledge of the oceans and their critical role for our planet.

David Gallo, PhD, is an American oceanographer, explorer, lecturer and educator—a
passionate advocate for the protection and conservation of our oceans. Through his talks and lectures, he has taught thousands about the effects of pollution of the oceans, emphasizing that cleaning polluted areas and conserving healthy oceans are essential to life on earth.

For nearly thirty years, Dr. Gallo served as assistant director of the Center for Marine Exploration and Director of Special Projects at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He has participated in expeditions to all of the world’s oceans and was one of the first scientists to combine robots and submarines to explore the deep seafloor.

Dr. Gallo is committed to conveying the excitement and importance of ocean exploration to the public, lecturing to audiences ranging from children to CEOs, with the goal of awakening that little bit of Jules Verne and Jacques Cousteau that exists in each of us.

Proposed by Milton Garden Club, Zone I

Laura Haley
Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

The Katharine Thomas Cary Medal is awarded in recognition of outstanding achievement in the field of floral design education and was presented to Laura Haley for exceptional leadership in floral design as an educator, speaker, mentor and artist; for successfully restructuring and digitizing flower shows’ essential resource, the Flower Show & Judging Guide.

Laura Haley has made it her mission to educate every GCA club member about the art of floral design and the benefits of flower shows. Her ability to teach and mentor others has made Laura an excellent floral design judge and an outstanding advocate for the GCA. Ardent about flower show education, she has traveled to nine zones, teaching floral design techniques at club meetings and best judging practices at zone judging workshops.

Beginning in 2011, Laura worked tirelessly to restructure and digitize the GCA publication Flower Show & Judging Guide, known as the Yellow Book, the educational resource and essential handbook for GCA flower show organizers and judges. It is now available on the GCA website.

As a teacher, mentor, judge, and as the lead author and creative force guiding the digitization of the Yellow Book, Laura has made flower show education her pursuit and passion. Countless club members have benefited from her work.

Proposed by Lisa Gerard (1948-2019), Rusticus Garden Club, Zone III

Laura Haley is a member of Late Bloomers Garden Club, Zone VIII, and The Little Garden Club of Rye, Zone III.

Robert Hammond 
New York, New York

The Elvira Broome Doolan Medal is awarded in recognition of innovative work in landscape architecture with emphasis on city planning and civic improvement in urban areas and was presented to Robert Hammond with profound gratitude for his passionate commitment to transform a neglected industrial site into the High Line, a unique Manhattan park enjoyed by millions.

In 1999, Robert Hammond, along with Joshua David, co-founded Friends of the High Line. For twenty years, Robert has been a driving force to turn this abandoned rail line on the west side of Manhattan into one of the world’s most acclaimed parks—the High Line. 

Thousands of volunteers became involved in the transformation of this neglected site into a public space where visitors view art, walk through gardens, or experience a performance, while enjoying a unique perspective of the city. This continuous 1.45 mile-long linear greenway features over 500 species of plants and trees, and attracts over seven million visitors annually. 

Maintained by the Friends of the High Line and owned by the City of New York, this park serves as a model for reuse projects and for community activism in the US and abroad.A tireless advocate, Robert continues his involvement as executive director, supervising daily operations including fundraising. He shares his creative energy, encouraging others to step up to challenging community projects.

Proposed by Alamo Heights-Terrell Hills Garden Club, Zone IX

Marta McDowell
Chatham, New Jersey

The Sarah Chapman Francis Medal for outstanding literary achievement related to any aspect of The Garden Club of America interests and was presented to Marta McDowell for inspiring new generations of readers and gardeners with her meticulous research and captivating portrayals of literary figures and their gardens.

Marta McDowell is one of America’s leading garden writers, garnering national and international acclaim for her insightful portraits of literary and cultural figures and their relationships with gardening, plants, and place. She combines detailed research with sparkling prose and engaging images, resulting in books that are both entertaining and informative for a wide audience. Marta has created a singular voice by, as she has put it, “following the relationship between the
author’s pen and the trowel.”

Blending her passion for horticulture, garden history, historic preservation, and literature, Marta has created captivating portrayals of Emily Dickinson, Beatrix Potter, Laura Ingalls Wilder and their gardens. In one of her more recent books, she traces the story of the White House grounds from President Washington’s tree obsession to Mrs. Obama’s kitchen garden. Whether it is in a garden, classroom, lecture hall or through her beautifully written books, Marta McDowell’s work stimulates the knowledge and love of horticulture. She inspires others to explore their own connections with gardening and nature.

Marta McDowell is a member of Garden Club of Madison, Zone IV.

Proposed by Garden Club of Madison, Zone IV



Piet Oudolf
Hummelo, The Netherlands

The Medal of Honor is awarded for outstanding service to horticulture and was presented to Piet Oudolf in recognition of his revolutionary genius, designing gardens that paint nature with vivid compositions, where visitors enjoy the beauty of plants in all seasons. 

Piet Oudolf’s work transcends conventional definitions of gardening and horticulture. He has revolutionized garden design, forever changing how visitors experience public gardens. With a vast knowledge of plants, his intricate planting style inspires visitors to enjoy his gardens twelve months of the year, finding beauty in the seedheads and the movement of grasses as well as the flowers of summer. His impressive body of work includes the High Line in New York, Lurie Garden in Chicago, gardens at Manhattan’s Battery Park, the Goldman Sachs headquarters in NYC, and the new Delaware Botanic Gardens. His most recent project, a garden in Detroit’s Belle Isle Park, will be his first garden commissioned by a garden club.

As a leading figure of the “New Perennial” movement and author of nine acclaimed books, Piet Oudolf embodies the mission of The Garden Club of America. His influence runs deep, reaching environmentalists, horticulturists, landscape architects, gardeners, architects, artists, curators, and creative people around the world.

Proposed by Garden Club of Michigan, Zone X


David Austin Roses, Ltd. 
Albrighton, Wolverhampton, UK

The Jane Righter Rose Medal is awarded for outstanding achievement in rose culture and was presented to Rebecca Koraytem representing David Austin Roses, Ltd. in recognition of their achievements hybridizing roses, creating a collection of unique rose cultivars that have inspired the incorporation of roses in twenty-first century gardens worldwide.  

David C.H. Austin (1926-2018) mastered the art and science of rose hybridization, creating a unique breed recognized as English Roses. Since 1969 David Austin Roses, Ltd. has introduced 240 English Rose cultivars, successfully combining the beautiful full-petaled flowers and intoxicating fragrance of old roses with the best attributes of modern roses, including repeat flowering and diverse colors. Guided by three generations of leadership, David Austin Roses, Ltd. is proud to be one of the world’s largest rose breeders and best-known rose nurseries. The company won the Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit for 28 different varieties of English Roses and 24 gold medals at the Chelsea Flower Show. The David Austin Rose Garden in Albrighton received the World Federation of Rose Societies’ Award of Garden Excellence.

Through exhibitions of Austin cultivars and continuing public rose culture education, David Austin Roses, Ltd. has inspired a renewed interest among twenty-first century rose gardeners. 

Proposed by Dolley Madison Garden Club, Zone VII


USS Constitution and USS Constitution Museum
Charlestown Navy Yard, Boston, Massachusetts

The Historic Preservation Medal for outstanding work in the field of preservation and/or restoration of historic gardens or buildings of national importance was presented to Commander Nathaniel Shick representing USS Constitution and USS Constitution Museum in recognition of their dual roles, preserving an American symbol and furthering the understanding of the role of the US Navy in war and peace.

A national icon for 221 years, USS Constitution is the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world, a stirring symbol of American naval innovation and courage. Launched in 1797 and with 33 naval victories during the War of 1812, Constitution earned lasting fame and the title “Old Ironsides.” Each year the US Navy welcomes 500,000 guests aboard this  three-masted frigate.

In 2017 after 26 months in drydock and $12 million in restorations, America’s Ship of State was relaunched. Copper sheetings, outside wooden planks, sections of the cutwater and trailboards and 44 gun carriages were rebuilt; riggings, masts, and yards were refurbished.USS Constitution Museum, established in 1976, engages all ages about maritime heritage, naval service, and the American experience. The museum ensures that the stories of Constitution and those who shaped her history remain relevant and inspire our nation.

Proposed by Little Compton Garden Club, Zone I

Brian R. Vogt
Denver, Colorado

The Cynthia Pratt Laughlin Medal is awarded for outstanding achievement in environmental protection and the maintenance of the quality of life and was presented to Brian R. Vogt for extraordinary leadership in transforming the Denver Botanic Gardens into a world-class institution.

Brian Vogt, CEO of Denver Botanic Gardens since 2007, has transformed the Gardens with his global vision and inspirational leadership. Attendance has grown to 1.3 million visitors annually.

Brian and his staff work with scientists in countries with similar climates, offering technical assistance with food security and climate change. Researchers from Denver Botanic Gardens are helping protect and propagate endangered species in Madagascar, addressing agriculture in arid regions of Africa, and promoting collaborative management of the Colorado River with Sonora, Mexico.

He empowers mentoring programs with graduate students, colleagues, veterans and disadvantaged groups. With multiple campuses representing the six Colorado ecosystems, the Gardens champions accessibility to community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs, outreach classrooms across Colorado, and techniques for sustainable landscaping in public places.

Brian’s mission is “Connecting People to Plants” locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. He truly believes botanic gardens can and should change the world.

Proposed by Garden Club of Denver, Zone XII 


See All News