I WROTE MY FIRST newspaper story when I was in my 20s, for “The New York Times,” which I suppose by any measure would have been something to celebrate with a bit of fanfare.
Except that I didn’t tell anybody. Not my parents (who were journalists, and would have been especially proud to share the excitement ahead of time but instead were startled to see it there on the printed pages one Sunday morning); not my non-work friends, nor my sister.
I’ve always been like that: keeping things close to the vest to a fault. (We could exhume Dr. Freud for a quick consult on why, but maybe let’s not bother.)
In the spirit of old dogs being able to learn new tricks after all, I’m changing my ways, blowing my own horn by letting you all know that I was just awarded a medal for my contributions to horticulture. Specifically, it was from the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, the oldest formally organized horticultural society in America.
On Thursday I received the 2018 George Robert White Medal of Honor, the highest honor given by the society, in the latest instance of the society’s 118-year tradition of awarding medals to individuals and organizations for their contributions to excellence in horticulture for the public good.
The George Robert White Medal was established in 1909 and is among the most distinguished horticultural awards in the United States, I’m told by Mass Hort. The first honoree was Charles Sprague Sargent, Director of the Arnold Arboretum, and other recipients have included Gertrude Jekyll, Jens Jensen, The Royal Horticultural Society, and Tasha Tudor, to name an eclectic few.
I was especially delighted about the Miss Jekyll connection (she was the medal’s 1929 recipient). Her writings were some of my first and most beloved inspirations in garden writing.
“The lesson I have thoroughly learnt, and wish to pass on to others,” she wrote, “is to know the enduring happiness that the love of a garden gives.” Those words have guided me all these years as a simple mission statement.
So there: I’ve done it. I’ve said it out loud: I won a medal. (Now that wasn’t so bad, Margaret, was it?) Thanks for listening.
(Image of William Nicholson’s 1920 painting of Gertrude Jekyll (c) Elizabeth Banks; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation via Wikipedia.)