New England Wild Flower Society has announced the winners of its annual awards program which recognizes organizations and individuals that have demonstrated creative vision and exceptional achievement in furthering the goals of New England Wild Flower Society to conserve native plants and their habitats. Thirteen individuals and organizations were recognized at the Society’s annual meeting, held Sunday, November 6, at Garden in the Woods, 180 Hemenway Road, Framingham, MA. A special tribute was also paid to the many donors who for more than 20 consecutive years have made financial contributions to the Society.
Following a State of the Society Report given by Executive Director Debbi Edelstein, Dr. Tristram Seidler gave a fascinating presentation entitled The Bees of New England: Native Plants’ Best Friends. After the presentation, the awards were given.
Dr. C. Barre Hellquist of Adams, MA, was recognized with the Society’s 2011 Conservation Award for extensive research of Polamogeton and other rare and endangered aquatics and for monitoring invasive aquatic species throughout New England. He has named and described the globally imperiled Potamogeton ogdenii (Ogden’s pondweed). He has coauthored, with Garrett E. Crow, Aquatic and Wetland Plants of the Northeast and has contributed to Flora Conservanda in both the 1996 and upcoming editions. Barre has served on the regional advisory committee of the New England Plant Conservation Program (NEPCoP) since the 1990s and has shared his wisdom with numerous other conservation agencies in New England and beyond. Although his work is also national, including Yellowstone National Park, as well as international, including Australia, New England Wild Flower Society credited Dr. Hellquist’s great accomplishments in New England. Melissa Cullina has described him most colorfully as the “Aquatic Jedi Master.” His canoe has been on almost every pond, river, stream and bog in New England.
Irina Kadis and Alexey Zinovjev of Randolph, MA, were given the Education Award for educating the public about fragile habitats and environmental threats in Massachusetts through their website, botanical inventories, guided walks, publications and photography. Botanist Irina Kadis and Entomologist Alexey Zinovjev, have dedicated considerable time and talent to raising awareness about native plant communities, particularly in southeastern Massachusetts. Through plant inventories, publications, educational programs, guided walks, and a website, they teach the public, inform concerned citizens, and influence policymakers. Their salicicola.com website, which means “dwelling on willows”, is maintained by Alexey and features more than seven thousand of his superb photographs, all edited by Irina and presented in a searchable database. The site provides scholarly articles, botanical checklists, and an invasive plant database, organized by county. There is even a fun, though challenging, quiz to try. Results of their work prompted Friends of Myles Standish State Forest to create the Pine Barrens Community Initiative (PCBI) to further prevent degradation of this fragile habitat. With state approval and grant funds, Alexey and Irina support PCBI by propagating native plants for restoration projects, encouraging property owners to remove invasive plants and informing the community on environmental topics.
Carol Lemmon of Branford, CT, accepted the Connecticut State Award for completing many yearly rare plant population searches, and for willingly taking on management activities that benefit rare plants in Connecticut. NEPCoP and the Connecticut Botanical Society have benefited from Carol’s contributions for many years. Her professional career with the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station included work with milkweed and butterfly habitats. Carol has managed the site for the only known population of Aesclepias viridiflora (green comet milkweed) in New England. Without her efforts to preserve the site and eliminate invasive plants, the population would very likely be extirpated. Carol is cofounder and former president of the Connecticut Butterfly Association which has created a butterfly garden at Lighthouse Park in New Haven. She is also involved in the reclamation of Killingworth Bog.
Maine State Award winner Glen Mittelhauser of Gouldsboro, ME, was recognized for the collaborative publication of The Plants of Acadia National Park, and for extensive contributions to education about and conservation of the native environments of Maine coastal islands. Glen Mittelhauser coordinated the publication of The Plants of Acadia National Park, the collaborative effort of the Friends of Acadia, The Garden Club of Mount Desert, and the University of Maine Press. The guide includes descriptions of 862 plants, a reference for the novice or botanist. Another collaborative guide, The Cyperaceae of Maine, which identifies the 215 species of sedges, is presently at press. Glen has created bio-geographical studies of flora of Maine island groups from Inner Sand Island to Franklin Island, guiding visitors to the island’s native habitats. In addition, he has researched nontoxic methods of invasive control on the islands to encourage hospitable breeding sites for seabirds. He is the founder and director of the Maine Natural History Observatory, which advances the scientific knowledge of Maine’s flora and fauna through research, monitoring and collaboration. He is a member of NEPCoP’s Maine Task Force and the Maine Botanical Advisory Group.
The Massachusetts State Award went to Dr. Robert Bertin of Paxton, MA, for exemplary research on the flora, floristic change and alien species in central Massachusetts and for teaching the next generation the importance of plant biology and ecology. He is a Professor of Biology at the College of the Holy Cross and an avid field researcher. He has published on the flora of Worcester County, and has systematically sampled vegetation, collecting thousands of herbarium specimens. Through this work, he has reported several dozen rare plant populations and many new county records. He is also working on a flora of Franklin County. His other research interests include reproductive biology of plants and the biogeography of invasive species. He is an exemplary teacher (his students love him), and an excellent field botanist and researcher with a broad and deep knowledge of plants. He has been both recording secretary and vice president of the New England Botanical Club, has served on NEPCoP’s Massachusetts Task Force, and is currently on the editorial board of the journal, Rhodora. Dr. Bertin was simultaneously nominated this year by two people.
The New Hampshire State Award went to the New Hampshire Natural Heritage Bureau of Concord, NH, for creating The Nature of New Hampshire: Natural Communities of the Granite State, which describes the complex ecosystems and enhances understanding of the state’s habitats with clear and understandable text and beautiful photography. The Natural Heritage Bureau has also compiled brochures about the ecosystems of twenty different bio-diversity sites within the state. The biologists in the New Hampshire Natural Heritage Bureau foster a cooperative and common sense approach to protection of resources and plant diversity as they work with land managers and land users throughout the state. Donald Kent, Administrator of the New Hampshire Natural Heritage Bureau, accepted the award.
The Rhode Island State Award was given to Paul Dolan of Foster, RI, for enthusiasm and personal commitment to the delivery of environmental education which inspires stewardship and understanding of ecosystems throughout Rhode Island. PAUL DOLAN is the Deputy Chief of the Division of Forest Environment at the RI DEM. He is admired as a capable and effective forester, an understanding administrator, an inspired teacher and an experienced public servant. Environmental organizations and educators recognize him as a leader and a hands-on partner in promoting forest stewardship in both rural and urban areas. Paul is active with the RI Environmental Educators, the Society of American Foresters, and RI Wild Plant Society (especially in understanding the building of a beaver dam for the Rhode Island Wild Plant Society Flower Show exhibit in February, 2011). He has made significant contributions to the preservation of our native plants and their habitats, while spreading forest stewardship and ecosystem values to young and old. He leads field trips to study trees all around our state, on his own property and often on this own time. He devotes tremendous efforts to find funding for scholarships for educators and programs for school children. His commitment never ends. He is always on the job.
Sharon Plumb of Berlin, VT, was given the Vermont State Award for strategic and effective work in the field of invasive species control throughout the greater Vermont community. She is the Invasive Species Coordinator for the Vermont Chapter of the Nature Conservancy. But it is for her work above and beyond that title for which she is most praised by her colleagues. She has singlehandedly lead numerous significant efforts related to invasive plants, including the launching of the iMap Invasives Database in Vermont and establishing a successful, voluntary code of conduct with Vermont’s nursery industry. Sharon co-chairs the Vermont Invasive Exotic Plant Committee, is establishing a citizen science monitoring website with partners, is involved in many networking, educational and grant initiatives related to invasive species, and has developed numerous guides and other publications relating to invasives, among other notable achievements. Sharon is considered a regional expert on the subject of invasive species and frequently shares that knowledge at scientific symposiums and nursery industry meetings.
The Kathryn Taylor Award was given to Ellen Sousa of Turkey Hill Brook Farm, Spencer, MA, for converting a traditional home landscape to a biodynamic garden designed to attract pollinators and provide wildlife habitat, using plants native to the Northeast. The Kathryn S. Taylor Award for Private Gardens is awarded for a garden of any size displaying significant use of wildflowers and temperate North American native plants. The award was created in honor of Kathryn (Kitty) Taylor, president of the Society from 1948 until 1973. Turkey Hill Brook Farm is home to a wide variety of wildflowers and native plants. The garden is designed as a habitat garden: a place that provides food, shelter, and housing for birds, pollinators, amphibians and other at-risk wildlife species. Ellen designs for more than beauty. She wants biodiversity; healthy plant communities; and stable, functioning ecosystems. Her thoughtfully planted garden is registered as a Certified Wildlife Habitat and as a Monarch Waystation. Ellen earned her Certificate in Native Plant Studies through New England Wild Flower Society in 2008. She recently completed a book, The Green Garden: The New England Guide to Planning, Planting and Maintaining the Eco-friendly Habitat Garden.
Landscape Design Award went to Magma Design Group, Samantha and Neil Best, of Pawtucket, RI, for inspiring design that utilizes native trees, shrubs and perennials to create a species-rich sanctuary for people and wildlife in a beautiful, backyard woodland. In the last few years, they have won many awards for their exhibits at the Rhode Island Flower Show. Thoughtful plant selection and creative masonry are two hallmarks of their gardens. Neil and Samantha Best, principals of the company, sum up their philosophy well: “Magma is the fundamental building block of the earth. Its movement is fluid, deliberate, and often energetic. What it leaves in its wake are creations that inspire awe.” The primary garden which merited the Landscape Design Award was a private residential one in Hope, Rhode Island. All of the judges who visited the site were impressed and delighted by this exemplary design which included native trees, shrubs, perennials, and grasses. The garden makes a lovely transition between the lawn adjacent to the house and the woodland, with a charming, winding path and small dining and relaxing area tucked away behind mostly native shrubs and perennials. The plants were chosen to give year-round interest, with trees and garden vignettes forming focal points from the living areas of the house and garden. The bunchberry, beginning to reproduce itself, was particularly delightful to see, as it is so often a challenge to get that species to thrive in a garden.
Two Service to the Society awards were given. One to Ray Abair of Middleboro, MA, for long service to the Sanctuary Committee and Plant Conservation Volunteers (PCVs), including botanical inventories and management projects, surveying for ferns and fern allies, and fern id consultation, and for more than 15 years of teaching for the Education Department. He is involved in botanical inventories and management projects on all sanctuaries, especially at the Hobbs Fern sanctuary, where he and Don Lubin are conducting long-term research on the sanctuary’s exceptionally diverse fern flora. Ray has also developed an extensive trail system for the property. Ray is one of New England’s outstanding fern experts and is often consulted by botanists on fern identification. The other Service to the Society award was presented to Peter Brem of Framingham, MA, for outstanding efforts through the years from guided tours to cart tours, and an array of carpentry and other volunteer projects for the Horticulture Department – all accomplished with a smile. Peter is the mastermind behind the invasive plant jail design and his tour groups are always charmed by his friendly humorous manner. Staff horticulturist Nate McCullin refers to him as “The Beast” who keeps going and making tangible, important differences here at Garden in the Woods.
The mission of New England Wild Flower Society is to conserve and promote the region’s native plants to ensure healthy, biologically diverse landscapes. Founded in 1900, the Society is the nation’s oldest plant conservation organization and a recognized leader in native plant conservation, horticulture, and education. The Society’s headquarters, Garden in the Woods, is a renowned native plant botanic garden in Framingham, Massachusetts, that attracts visitors from all over the world. From this base, 35 staff and more than 1,000 volunteers work throughout New England to monitor and protect rare and endangered plants, collect and preserve seeds to ensure biological diversity, detect and control invasive species, conduct research, and offer a range of educational programs. The Society also operates a native plant nursery at Nasami Farm in western Massachusetts, which grows plants for retail customers and for landscaping and restoration projects, and has eight sanctuaries in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont that are open to the public.