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Friday, March 27th

MSHS State Awards Program

Gardens — whether they beautify a neighborhood or teach kids how to grow vegetables—it’s hard not to be inspired by the love and care that gardeners put into them. We’re currently seeking nominations for such gardens and gardeners for our annual State Awards for 2015.

download_award_formYou can nominate gardeners who have made outstanding contributions to greening efforts in public gardens or community projects; individuals, projects and activities of neighborhood groups; garden clubs and organizations that have contributed to rejuvenating communities and have brightened our world through plants.

Capture the beauty of the gardens now with high resolution digital photos, as award winners will be featured in Northern Gardener magazine and on www.northerngardener.org, as well as at MSHS’ annual State Awards and Recognition Event.

For more information on specific awards and the nomination form, click on the nomination form to the right and print the document. If you have questions about submitting a nomination, call 651-643-3601 / 1-800-676-6747 ext. 211. The deadline for 2015 nominations is August 1, 2015.


The Minnesota State Horticultural Society (MSHS) statewide awards program recognizes individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to horticulture and greening efforts in public gardens, community projects and through exemplary community achievements.

Individuals, projects and activities of neighborhood groups, governmental organizations, garden clubs and communities that have meritoriously contributed to gardening and rejuvenating communities through plants will be honored each year with a certificate of commendation from the Governor and will be eligible to receive one of several award plaques.

2014 Winners of the MSHS State Awards

Life Award

Mary Maguire Lerman

Midway Y 6.14.13 025For 32 years, Mary worked for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Department, coordinating gardening efforts throughout the city. As a volunteer, Mary has served on the MSHS Board of Directors for six years, including as board chair in 2013. Mary represented MSHS all over the state, attending garden club meetings and horticulture days, speaking and encouraging others to join MSHS. Mary has helped maintain the MSHS State Fair garden along with other volunteers from the St. Anthony Park Garden Club, weeding and hauling plants, as well as helping secure plant donations. Most recently, her volunteer focus has been with the Garden-in-a-Box program and the St. Paul Midway YMCA Teaching Giving Garden, where MSHS installed 48 garden boxes. Over the summer, Mary worked with 130 students, teaching them about gardening and nutrition.

Bronze Award

Dr. Harold WilkinsHarold Wilkins

When Harold Wilkins arrived to teach at the University of Minnesota in 1966, conditions in the world molded his approach to floriculture research. Oil prices were rising, and so Harold researched crops that could be grown under cool conditions. He introduced the Peruvian lily (Alstroemeria), which became a multi-million dollar crop. He also developed a technique that allowed Easter lily growers to bring their crop into bloom regardless of how early or late Easter occurred. He also wrote frequent articles for the Minnesota Horticulturalist (now Northern Gardener) to teach gardeners how to grow potted flowers and prolong the life of cut flowers.

Harold started a second career in 2004 where he and his partner purchased Goldfinch Farm and began growing specialty cut flowers for local florists.

Harold has dedicated his life to floriculture, expanding opportunities for all gardeners to enjoy unique flowers.

Bob Churilla Golden Rose Volunteer Recognition Award

Malinda Smithmalinda

Malinda has contributed over 123 hours of her time to MSHS in 2014.

In addition to volunteering at the MSHS office weekly, Malinda Smith is one of the founding members of the Friends of MSHS – a committee formed to help organize and implement our spring fundraiser. Malinda also volunteers at all our major events including the Home Shows and the State Fair. She assists with our fundraising efforts by thanking our first time donors. She willingly takes on the multitude of tasks that we give her with a smile.

Garden Club Member of the Year Award

Karen Noltee, Rochester Garden and Flower Clubkaren n

Designing flyers, organizing plant sales, speaking about fairy gardens and forging community partnerships are among the ways Karen Noltee has contributed to her garden club, the Rochester Garden and Flower Club. She was instrumental in establishing the Plant Swap Social as an evening event. She was part of the team that opened the door with the Rochester Technical and Community College for the Club’s annual garden tour, which led to the club’s partnership with RCTC. In support of the Minnesota State Horticultural Society, Karen has volunteered to help plan and work at the MSHS 1st District Fall Meeting when Rochester hosted the event in both 2009 and 2013. She has volunteered at the MSHS booth at the State Fair as well. Karen has an enthusiastic attitude and is always ready to try something new and share her expertise with others.

Garden Club of the Year Award

Rochester Garden and Flower Club rochester garden club

Founded in 1929, the Rochester Garden and Flower Club is a vibrant group with 156 members. Its mission is to promote education in the culture, propagation and care of flowers, vegetables and trees, and to promote interest in gardens, flowers, and the beautification of the Rochester area.

Through its annual plant sale, club members fund two scholarships each year to Rochester Community and Technical College. The club’s annual garden tour is open to the public, complete with demonstrations and a free ice cream social.

Every year, the club participants in the Olmstead County Fair and helps the public create flower arrangements. Club members designed the Soldiers Field Veterans Memorial in Rochester, and they plant and maintain gardens there and at the Rochester Area Family YMCA.

The club supports MSHS through its involvement in the work of the society’s First District, organizing meetings, volunteering at MSHS events, serving on the MSHS Board of Directors and supporting MSHS membership.

Greening Awards

Community Garden Award

Paul Thillen

paul thillenFor 19 years, Paul Thillen has lived near Pearl Park, across the street from Diamond Lake in south Minneapolis. Seven years ago, he noticed that someone had once created a garden on a small island of land cut off from the rest of the park. Overgrown with volunteer trees and weeds, the area appealed to Paul as a community garden project. With the help of two friends, Monte Crumrine and Richard Stone, he cleared the weeds, pruned overgrown trees and shrubs, and built pathways surfaced with wood chips through the garden. Working through the Hale, Page and Diamond Lake Community Association, he obtained donated plant material from MSHS’ Minnesota Green program and began planting it in newly dug beds.

Minnesota Recreation and Parks Association Award

Lyndale Park and Garden Committee of the Men's and Women's Garden Club of Minneapolismens and womens garden club

The Lyndale Park Perennial Trial and Mixed Border Garden near Lake Harriet has been adopted by the Men’s and Women’s Garden Club of Minneapolis under the Park Stewards Program.

Begun in 1997 as a perennial trial garden, the project was a collaboration among the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, the University of Minnesota Department of Horticulture Science and the Men’s and Women’s Garden Club of Minneapolis. The Club members collected plant data to determine winter hardiness, flowering potential and disease resistance.

As the number of trial plants diminished over the years, the Club created the Mixed Border, with an array of colorful annuals, perennials, shrubs and ornamental grasses. The Club designs this educational garden to display low-maintenance, hardy plants. Twenty club members are involved - designing, planting and maintaining the garden. They contribute 400 hours of labor annually. The Club has donated more than $8,000 for plant purchases.

Many passers-by thank the volunteers for their work and the garden gift they give Minneapolis residents and visitors.

St. Paul Garden Club Award

Victory Tiny Fields Project

victory tiny fieldsSpearheaded by Emily Organ, the Victory Tiny Fields Project has been distributing vegetable garden kits to residents of the Victory and Cleveland neighborhoods in Minneapolis. The project has grown from five front-yard gardens to 21 in one year, igniting interest in gardening and building community connections. Connecting neighbor to neighbor is essential to the project’s success, which doesn’t end with the preparation of beds and distribution of seed. Emily uses Facebook as an innovative approach to continued learning. She sends timely alerts and posts online tutorials and recipes. Teaching families to grow food saves money, relieves financial strain, and promotes sustainable healthy eating habits.

Joseph Priley Award

Judy Codejudy code

Judy Code is the innovative and dedicated force behind many of Northfield’s community beautification projects, including flowers: on Bridge Square; plants around the U.S. Post Office, Northfield Public Library and other public buildings; and 22 hanging baskets and eight planters around the city.

Judy has been one of the most active members of the Northfield Garden Club for the past 11 years and has served several times on the board, previously holding the positions of vice president and president.

Judy’s passion and commitment to the horticultural beauty of Northfield has led her to lobby the city government to ensure plantings in town are cared for. She has consulted with dozens of businesses to improve the landscaping around her buildings. She is a dynamic leader, an expert on Minnesota gardening, and a very hard worker.

President’s Award

Belinda Jensen and Bobby Jensen, Grow with Kare

BBBelinda Jensen is the head meteorologist at Kare-11 and co-host with long-time garden expert Bobby Jensen of Grow with KARE, a popular Saturday morning garden program. Support from Belinda and Bobby has raised the community profile of MSHS and introduced its work to a wide variety of gardeners. When MSHS began the Garden-in-a-Box program in 2008, coverage on Grow with KARE encouraged viewers to participate. In addition to promoting Garden-in-a-Box over the years, Belinda and Bobby (who are not related) encouraged MSHS to apply for financial support from Gannett, the owner of KARE-11. Belinda and Bobby have also emceed our annual fundraising event, Spring at the Inn several times, and their easy banter and garden knowledge make for a really special event. Bobby and Belinda have been a link to the greater community for our programs and have helped MSHS spread the joy of gardening to the broadest possible audience. 

 Governor's Certificate of Commendation

Shirley Gilmoreladyslipper

The Lady Slipper Scenic Byway is a 28 mile drive that follows County Roads 10 and 39 in Cass and Beltrami Counties. The Byway is named for the approximately 10,000 Showy Lady’s Slippers that grow along the roadside. The roadway is in a multiyear construction project to widen the road and the shoulder.   For six years, Shirley Gilmore has worked to save colonies of Lady’s Slippers, which thrive in this area of Beltrami County. In order to save the plants from destruction, the Byway Board received permission from the Highway department to transplant orchids to a nearby orchid friendly habitat in the Chippewa National Forest. Then, they move the orchids back to their home habitat when construction is complete. Shirley and the Byway Board have partnered with local groups including Conservation Corps of Minnesota and the Camp Rabideau Conservation Academy and Learning Center for local youth. This is massive undertaking that Shirley has led to preserve the Minnesota State Flower.

Bruce Beresford Educators Award

tracy tebenTracy Tebben

As an agriculture instructor for New London-Spicer High School, Tracy Tebben teaches his students how to take what they’ve learned in class out into the world. In 2013, he constructed a passive solar greenhouse at the school with the help of his summer agriculture class and other volunteers. A wind turbine erected for the greenhouse allows it to be used to grow healthy greens for the school lunchroom. The students also learned about the production of crops and flowers, maintenance of the building, composting, recycling and the importance of organic gardening.

His efforts don’t stop at the greenhouse door, however. With community assistance, Tracy’s horticulture class planted an arboretum on the high school grounds that serves as a learning tool for several classes. With another teacher, Tracy created an outdoor classroom where students experience nature and see how it relates to what they are learning. He also advises the school’s Future Farmers of America club. Tracy Tebben is the kind of teacher students remember because of the life-changing lessons they have learned from him.

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