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Mass Hort to dole out awards

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At its 117th Annual Honorary Medals Dinner on October 20, the Massachusetts Horticultural Society will present Peter J. Hatch, of Virginia, with its greatest honor: The George Robert White Medal. Mr. Hatch will be the keynote speaker for the evening. Currently an independent scholar living in Albemarle County, Virginia, Hatch gardens, lectures, consults and writes about garden history. Massachusetts Horticultural Society has been conferring honorary medals on those individuals and institutions regarded as important contributors to the art and science of horticulture since the turn of the 20th century. Recognized at the dinner will be additional honorees that hail from communities across Massachusetts.

Mass Hort’s highest Medal of Honor, The 2016 George Robert White Medal, will be presented to Peter J. Hatch, who was responsible for the maintenance, interpretation and restoration of the 2,400-acre landscape at Monticello from 1977 to 2012. Peter Hatch has exemplified the leadership, vision and dedication to the field of horticulture. He is now Director Emeritus of Gardens and Grounds for the Thomas Jefferson Foundation.
Mr. Hatch managed important restoration projects, such as the eight-acre Vegetable and Fruit Garden, and the Grove, an ornamental forest of eighteen acres. In 1987, Peter initiated the Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants, a unique nursery to preserve historic and Jefferson-related garden plants. Peter J. Hatch is a professional gardener and historian with 38 years’ experience in the restoration, care, and interpretation of historic landscapes. A celebrated author of four books on the gardens of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, where he served as Director of Gardens and Grounds for 35 years, Hatch has lectured in 36 states on Jefferson and the history of garden plants. Presently, he gardens and botanizes from his home on Lickinghole Creek in Crozet, Virginia, travels extensively to promote his latest work, “A Rich Spot of Earth: Thomas Jefferson’s Revolutionary Garden at Monticello,” and consults on the installation and maintenance of both public gardens and private estate landscapes.

Jackson Dawson Memorial Award
First made in 1927, The Jackson Dawson Award honors individuals who have shown exceptional skill in the science of hybridization or propagation of woody plants. The 2016 awardee is John Herbert Alexander III. Mr. Alexander has been the Plant Propagator at the Arnold Arboretum since 1976. He earned an undergraduate degree from Harvard University Extension School and is a third generation nurseryman. Lilacs are his passion. He is an active member of the International Lilac Society and has served numerous terms on their Board of Directors, including as the Lilac Society’s New England Regional Vice President. Syringa × chinensis ‘Lilac Sunday’ and Syringa ‘Purple Haze’ are two of his cultivar selections.

Thomas Roland Medal
The 2016 Thomas Roland Medal awardee is Darrell R. Probst of Hubbardston, MA. In 1929, Mass Hort presented the first Thomas Roland Medal to honor men and women who have shown exceptional horticultural skill. Over the last two decades, plant breeder and epimedium expert Darrell Probst made numerous collecting expeditions to China, Japan and Korea together with the travels and collecting efforts of Joanna Zhang, his interpreter. He also has networked with many other epimedium collectors, nurserymen and experts worldwide to amass an impressive array of species and varieties.

Gold Medal
Gold medals are awarded to men, women, institutions, or firms for eminent horticultural accomplishments in the field of horticulture or for outstanding service to the society.
Karen E. Binder, Executive Director of Blithewold, Inc., a post she has held since July 2004. Karen has stabilized Blithewold financially. Her primary responsibilities include oversight of daily operations, strategic planning, supervision of major capital projects, fundraising, donor and board cultivation, and support for Blithewold’s board and committees. Karen earned a dual Bachelor of Arts in economics and in political science from St. Mary’s College, Maryland, and a Master of Arts in education with a focus on management and training from the University of Rhode Island. Most recently, Karen has served as Chair of the Bristol Museum Association and was a member on the Bristol Comprehensive Plan Committee and Vice-Chair of the Bristol Noise Commission. Formerly, Karen worked as Director of Operations and as Executive Director for several large YMCA associations.

Clark W. Bryan, 14-year employee of Mass Hort as Director of Operations, Clark is retiring September 30, 2016. Clark’s management of flower show logistics has helped the Society continue its flower show tradition in Boston. As Director of Operations at Mass Hort, Clark has cared for the buildings and grounds and worked with local officials and DCR to promote Mass Hort’s stewardship of this beautiful property.
Hollis Perry, Volunteer extraordinaire for Massachusetts Horticultural Society and member of the Board of Trustees since 2007. Holly will retire from the Board in 2016. Holly has been instrumental with the Festival of Trees, Flower Show, and other special events. Always good natured, Holly is a valued friend of the Society.
Silver Medals

In 1901, the Silver Medal was the first medal awarded by the Society. This medal is a replica of a large gold medal designed by George N. Mitchell in 1847 for the Society. The 2016 silver medals will be awarded to:

Edward H. Elliman, Plant Ecologist for the New England Wild Flower Society in Framingham, Massachusetts. He conducts botanical inventories, does natural community surveys, and supervises invasive species control programs. Previously, he worked as a contract ecologist for the National Park Service conducting plant and natural community surveys throughout the northeastern states. Ted has been engaged in botanical work in New England and other northeastern states for over 30 years. He has written numerous articles on botanical subjects for conservation organizations, scientific journals, and state and federal environmental agencies. His most recent publication, “Wildflowers of New England: Timber Press Field Guide” describes and illustrates more than 1,000 species commonly encountered in the region, including perennials, annuals, and biennials, both native and naturalized.

Jane S. Hirschi, CitySprouts. Jane was introduced to school gardens more than fifteen years ago when her children first started kindergarten in the Cambridge Public Schools. As the founding director of CitySprouts in 2001, Jane has been an integral part of building the CitySprouts program in Cambridge and Boston. She grew up with lots of space and time to climb trees, explore her neighborhood and turn compost with her dad in the backyard. Jane is passionate about making sure that all children have the chance to know the natural surroundings where they live, whether in the country or city. In 2008, Jane was selected as one of six regional Social Innovators by Root Cause Social Innovation Forum. Jane holds a Masters in Communication Studies as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from the University of Maine at Orono. Her book, “Ripe for Change: Garden-Based Learning in Schools,” was published by Harvard Education Press in 2015.

Volante Farms, Needham. With a long family history, beginning in the 1890’s amid the wave of Italian immigrants to the United States, Peter and Catarina Volante arrived in the country hoping to start anew. They built a business from the ground up in agriculture, which had been their lifeblood in the old country. They worked various jobs until they earned enough capital to purchase a farm at 391 Dedham Street in Newton, MA, in 1917. The original farm occupied more than 30 acres. A neighboring farm of more than 20 acres was leased to create a 55 acre farm. As early as 1920, all 55 acres were irrigated, a feat which was unique in the early 20th century. Volante Farms in Newton was predominately a truck farm, delivering every morning to the Boston Produce Market, which was located at Faneuil Hall. The produce was also sold off of the truck throughout the 1930’s and 1940’s, at various high traffic areas in and around Boston. In 2012, after years of planning and months of hard construction work, the brand new farmstand opened to the public. The new building has the space to expand existing products, but also enough space to add in some brand new items. The farm stand now includes a full service deli, bakery, ice cream stand, and farm kitchen. The talented crew of deli clerks, bakers and cooks are able to use homegrown ingredients to make truly unique items.

The Honorary Medals Dinner will take place Thursday, October 20 at 6:30 pm at Massachusetts Horticultural Society, The Hunnewell Carriage House, 900 Washington Street, Wellesley. Tickets are $130 for wine, beer, and dinner. Proceeds from this special event benefit excellence in horticulture at the Massachusetts Horticultural Society. Please call 617-933-4945 for tickets or visit:

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