This year’s winner of the AHS’s highest honor is Claire E. Sawyers, who has been director of the Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College, located in the suburbs of Philadelphia, for more than 30 years. In addition to transforming the Arboretum into one of the leading examples of campus gardens in the country she has overseen its acclaimed Arthur Hoyt Scott Medal and Award program, which recognizes top American horticulturists.
Sawyers has been active in publishing and other professional activities and has garnered a number of awards over the course of her career. Her book, The Authentic Garden: Five Principles for Cultivating Place was published by Timber Press in 2007. It received an AHS Book award in 2008. She served as guest editor for four of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Handbook series, and she has also had more than 40 articles published in popular magazines, including The American Gardener, Horticulture, and Fine Gardening.
Her awards include the American Horticultural Society’s Professional Award (2009), The Garden Club of America, Zone V, Horticulture Commendation (2008), and the University of Delaware Presidential Citation for Outstanding Achievement (2001). She has served on boards or committees for many professional organizations.
“In a field often plagued by rapid turnover of leadership, Claire exemplifies what can be accomplished over time with devotion, commitment and vision,” says Panayoti Kelaidis, director of outreach at Denver Botanic Garden in Colorado. “As much as anyone else in public garden leadership, she has helped elevate the Delaware Valley to be America’s garden heartland.”