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The GCA Announces the 2024 Montine McDaniel Freeman Medal


October 25, 2023

Passiflora incarnata named 2024 Plant of the Year

The Montine McDaniel Freeman Horticulture Medal is awarded annually to acknowledge the cultivation and use of native plants: trees, shrubs, ground covers, vines, and perennials that are little known but are deemed worthy to be preserved, propagated, promoted, and planted. This year, the Passiflora incarnata, has been named the 2024 Plant of the Year: Freeman Medal winner by The Garden Club of America. 

Passiflora incarnata is a perennial climbing vine originating from the southeastern United States, native to zones 6-10. With its vigorous growth habit, this vine elegantly intertwines itself around trellises, fences, and arbors. The ornate floral structure, captivating fragrance, abundant nectar, and lavender color entice a diverse array of pollinators, including butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds. 

The Passionflower is renowned for its therapeutic properties in promoting relaxation and tranquility. The plant's fruits, known as passionfruit, offer a delectable treat with their unique flavor and culinary versatility. 

Cultivating Passiflora incarnata is a rewarding endeavor for gardening enthusiasts. Thriving in well-drained soil and basking in a sunny or partially shaded location, this resilient vine flourishes year after year. With its remarkable beauty and diverse benefits, this botanical gem truly shines as the 2024 Plant of The Year.

Honorable Mentions were awarded to Liatris ligulistylis, commonly known as the Rocky Mountain Blazing Star; and to Packera Aurea, a perennial plant, also known as Golden Ragwort. Both are native to North America, specifically zones 3-8. Special recognition was awarded to Shortia galacifolia, a perennial plant native to the eastern United States; primarily found in the southern Appalachian Mountains, concentrated in the tri-state border region of Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Commonly referred to as Shortia, is a petite evergreen perennial that blankets the forest floor.

Please check with local experts about the hardiness of these plants in your area.

The Montine McDaniel Freeman Medal was established in 1995 to highlight underutilized, but highly worthy, native trees, shrubs, groundcovers, vines, and perennials. The goal is to draw attention to select native plants, encourage their use in the landscape, and make them familiar to gardeners and more available in nurseries. The annual medal selection is carried out by a group of highly respected horticulturists from across the country. Woody and herbaceous plants are nominated in alternate years. The 2022 winners were selected from 15 herbaceous plants nominated by members of GCA clubs.

The medal honors Montine McDaniel Freeman (1915-98), a member of the New Orleans Town Gardeners, Inc., and was established by her son and daughter-in-law. Mrs. Freeman was an outstanding horticulturist and was particularly enamored of native plants. Her 93-acre Beechwood Gardens in Covington, Louisiana boasted more than 4,000 azaleas, camellias, and southern magnolias. 




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