woo-hoo! a medal from mass hort for my contributions to horticulture

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.)

Categorieswoo woo
  1. Joan Hall says:

    Congratulations Margaret! You are an inspiring woman and gardener who shares so much with all of us. I truly appreciate you sharing your wisdom (and your inquisitiveness for more) each week and through your books. The medal is a wonderful recognition for all of your work and teachings!

  2. Kate Kruesi says:

    Congratulations and well-earned! You keep exploring the future frontiers of 21C landscape gardening, share your learnings and gently nudge your large, diverse readership in smarter, forward-looking directions. THAT is why you earned this medal, IMO!

  3. Barb says:

    Congratulations on a well-earned award! I look forward to your newsletter and refer to your Away to Garden site often. You are a wealth of gardening knowledge!

  4. Karen says:

    Margaret, I can assure you that this comes as no surprise. I can think of no one more deserving. I have listened to your podcasts faithfully each week while I walk. I feel as if I’m with a dear friend. I have learned so , so much but more importantly I think I have become more aware and more caring of my little place .When I started gardening I wanted a knock your socks off kind of spectacle. But you have gently urged us to be mindful of those who inhabit our gardens. Now my garden is more a place of wild abandon. But if the frogs, insects whipowills etc are any indicator it’s a place of fullness and diversity. I can thank you for that. Congratulations, this is long overdue!!

  5. Congratulations Margaret! You have shown all of us how to garden in concert with nature, attuned to all the wonder that can be found in a garden. That medal is impressive, and so are you!

  6. Dagmar Degree says:

    Congratulations, so very well deserved!
    I love your blog, your recommendations, recipes, advice and your grit!
    I spend many an hour with kitchen chores listening to your interviews.
    I found you through your books. Your writing spoke to me. Yours are the only books I will re-read. Really inspiring.
    Whenever I find myself looking at my yard thinking ‘impossible to keep up’. I just need to read or listen to any of your podcasts to feel encouraged and ready to have at it once again. Thank you for that!

  7. Susan Rieske says:

    I enjoy your writing and have learned a great deal. I am trying to adopt your “live and let live” attitude about garden inhabitants, but still growl at the moles!

  8. Will Waldron says:

    Congratulations, Margaret, a well deserved medal. I enjoyed the workshop and garden tour last week. You add so much to my gardening world.

    Best wishes,


  9. Fran Cook says:

    Congratulations! I enjoy your writing so very much and find it very helpful. I have also enjoyed some of your recommended books. Thank you!

  10. Chris says:

    Congratulations. This award is well-deserved and overdue. Your writings and podcasts set a high bar for others in not only horticulture, but in the information sharing business. As a fellow New Yorker, I am a bit ashamed that MA was the first to recognize your contribution. Or perhaps you haven’t shared…? Your interviews and conversations are informative and relevant. Thank you for introducing us to so many notable people, places , thoughts, ideas and issues.

  11. Joanne C Toft says:

    Very Nice! Congratulations and congratulations on being willing to share it with us!

    You have shared so much with us in the way of information it is nice to share in your joy as well. Go Celebrate!

  12. Sharon Elaine says:

    Awesome award and what a privilege being in the company of these great gardeners. I love the way you share your knowledge and experiences with us in such a down to earth (pun intended) way. Your books, columns and podcasts are not only informative but enjoyable.

  13. Lin says:

    Not only for the award but sharing it with us. You receive many silent bouquets of appreciation with each post, book and article, but now it is official. From your garden, to your natural mindset, to your big city history, to your cooking and putting up your harvest…..on and on and on. Keep up the good work. I look forward to many more. You are truly and inspiration.

  14. Wendy Henrichs says:

    Congratulations!!! Very well deserved. Your knowledge, insights, and writings/interviews involving the natural world and your generosity of all these things and more is praiseworthy!

    Thanks so much for all you do for gardening freaks around the world! :)

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