2016 Winners

Bob Newman, winner of the Life Award, has been an extremely active volunteer for the Society for 10+ years. Starting as a membership volunteer at the Minnesota State Fair and spring home shows, Bob also served on our Board of Directors for 7 years. He served as board chair for 3 years while also volunteering on 4 MSHS committees. Bob believes that when volunteering for a nonprofit, you give your time and talents - he has given generously both.

Bees truly have a champion in Dr. Marla Spivak, winner of the Educators Award, and her research and outreach have helped alert citizens to environmental threats to bees. A University of Minnesota professor of entomology and a 2010 recipient of a MacArthur Foundation fellowship, Marla bred a line of bees that can heal sick hives, discovered that bees collect tree resin to self-medicate, and launched a team of experts known as the Bee Squad to help beekeepers and others in the Twin Cities foster healthy bee populations and pollinator landscapes through education and hands-on mentorship. Her most recent research focuses on the role of resins, which bees collect and mix with wax to make coatings for the inside of their hives, an example of honeybee social immunity. Her lab at the U also studies the effect of the surrounding landscape on the health and nutrition of both honeybees and native bees.

Winner of the Horticultural Achievement Award, University of Wisconsin-River Falls associate professor of horticulture Dr. David Zlesak has been breeding hardy landscape roses for 30+ years. Varieties such as the Oso Happy® series from Proven Winners and First Editions® Above and Beyond™ from Bailey Nurseries are garden stars here. In 2015, David was honored with the American Rose Society Silver Honor Medal for his years of dedication to roses through his breeding, educational programs and service to the industry as well as his collaborative research to characterize new rose viruses and understand rose blackspot disease. David is also the coordinator of the Northern Earth-Kind Rose Trials. In addition to his academic and breeding work, David is a popular garden speaker, sharing his love of plants and his deep knowledge.

Since 2011, Linda Stewlow has donated 600+ hours to the Society. A highly dedicated volunteer, Linda is the recipient of our Volunteer Recognition Award. She joins the staff nearly every Tuesday afternoon, providing invaluable administrative support. An avid shade gardener from Mounds View, Linda’s dedication and commitment have been vital to helping the Society achieve its goals, both before and during our 150th anniversary year.

Garden Club Award

Dale Hurst, Duluth Flower Garden Society

This year’s Garden Club Member of the Year Award is being given posthumously to Dale Hurst, a driving force in garden clubs in Duluth since 1999, who died in April 2016. Dale grew up on the Iron Range and moved to Duluth with her husband, Dennis, in 1984. She was a co-founder of the Gitche Gumee Garden Club and the Bookworms Garden Club. A member of the Duluth


Garden Flower Society since 1999, she served as president in 2002-2003 and brought her energy, wonderful ideas and keen sense of humor to many events, including the Gardening Affair conferences, bus tours for members and fundraising projects.

Dale and Ann Fink secured plants valued at more than $200,000 for the renovation of the Ordean Middle School in 2000. A St. Louis County Master Gardener, Dale was deeply involved with horticulture scholarship programs and served as president of MSHS District 8 from 2009-2012. Dale got things done, and she is greatly missed by District 8 gardeners.

Garden Club Award

Daffodil Garden Club, Burnsville

The Daffodil Garden Club began 45 years ago in a housing development in Burnsville, with the goals of encouraging interest in home gardening, promoting better horticultural practices, providing civic beauty, ensuring the conservation of natural resources and providing the opportunity for social interaction between members. The club’s plant sale raises up to $3,000 each year, with profits distributed to 10 philanthropic organizations in Burnsville and Eagan, and to common-area garden maintenance.

The Daffodil Garden Club is a great example of how gardening can be shared with the community through knowledge sharing, garden care and philanthropy

Community Livability Award

Robyn Foster

Robyn Foster saw a need in the beautiful village of Osceola, Wisconsin, situated on a national scenic waterway. Her flower displays in downtown began as a solo effort, but as people saw the value of the plantings, the Chamber of Commerce and the village split the cost of the flowers. Robyn waters the pots twice a day in summer, at first pulling a wagon she pumped by hand, then hauling her wagon with the city’s spare lawn tractor. Now she has a golf cart, tricked out in flashing orange lights. A silver- and goldsmith, Robyn moved to Osceola 13 years ago and has a real eye for beauty.

Unfortunately for Osceola, she is retiring from plant duty after this year. “Our appreciation doesn’t come close to compensating Robyn for what she does,” says Village Administrator Joel West.

Community Livability Award

St. Anthony Park Garden Club

For 20 years, the St. Anthony Park Garden club has funded, designed, installed and maintained the lush gardens surrounding the St. Anthony Park Branch Library. In late 2014, the club began a special expansion of these gardens—new pollinator gardens on the hillsides adjoining the Children’s Rotunda. After removing invasive shrubs, trees and weeds, the club created the gardens this spring, using many the Society’s Pollinator Plant Packs that they purchased.

Donations from the U.S. Park Service, Speedy Market, Kern Landscaping and other local businesses kept costs down. This educational garden will enhance the library grounds for years to come.

St. Paul Garden Club Award

Merriam Station Community Garden

Merriam Station Community Garden was created only five years ago on an unused and neglected parcel of land in St. Paul that overlooks Interstate Highway 94 between Cleveland and Prior avenues. Once an illegal dump site, starting a garden on the land required approval from the three separate owners, in addition to clearing the accumulated trash and debris. Now the site boasts 94 garden plots. Many are rented by low-income individuals for just $5 a season. One plot is set aside as a giving garden, with all of the produce donated to a local food shelf. Gardeners share tools and chores and host special events, making the garden a source of neighborhood pride, restoration, enjoyment and beauty for all people in this diverse and vibrant community.

MSHS Sponsorship Award

Paul Aarestad, Lakewood Cemetery

Paul Aarestad has been the greenhouse manager at Lakewood Cemetery for over 35 years. A couple of years ago, Paul invited the Society and other garden groups to use the beautiful Mausoleum and Reception Center for events at no cost. The beautiful site and Paul’s interesting walking tours of the grounds have been a boon to MSHS classes. A gracious host, Paul brings his passion for flowers and history to these events. His stories are rich with the history of horticulture in Minnesota and the role Lakewood has played in its development. He also has generously donated excess plant material to class attendees.

MSHS Sponsorship Award

Suzette Nordstrom, Monrovia

Since learning about our Minnesota Green program this spring, Suzette has donated more than 350 Monrovia-brand premium perennial plants and shrubs to the program, some with retail values of up to $70. Perennial plants and shrubs of this quality are not donated very often, so the Monrovia donations have greatly increased the value of Minnesota Green to its participants.

Suzette has also introduced a number of her garden-center clients to Minnesota Green, and this has resulted in additional plant donations. In just a few months, Suzette’s enthusiasm for the Society and Minnesota Green has provided a bounty of high-quality plants for community gardens through the Twin Cities.