BY Binder PR & Marketing Cmm | Posted: Monday, May 09, 2016 08:22 AM

Winners Hail from Michigan, Pennsylvania and Utah

  1. LOUIS (May 9, 2016)—St. Louis-based National Garden Clubs Inc., one of the nation’s most-recognized nonprofits and largest volunteer gardening organization in the world, announces the 2016 winners of its highest honor, the Award of Excellence. The winners, who were recognized at NGC’s 87th annual convention in Grand Rapids, Mich., include Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, George Weigel, award-winning garden writer and lecturer in central Pennsylvania and Joy Bossi, noted gardening author and radio host in Salt Lake City, Utah.

“Each year, NGC’s Award of Excellence recognizes exceptional individuals, organizations or institutions that foster the joy of gardening through environmental and civic responsibility, conservation and community beautification,” said Sandra Robinson, president, National Garden Clubs Inc. “By recognizing these deserving award recipients from different parts of the nation, NGC hopes to educate and inspire others in communities coast-to-coast.”

Nominated by Michigan Garden Clubs Inc., Meijer Gardens offers one of the nation’s most significant sculpture and botanic experiences and is a top cultural destination in the Midwest, attracting more than 600,000 visitors annually. The 158-acre Meijer Gardens includes an 8-acre Japanese Garden; five indoor theme gardens; outdoor gardens; nature trails and boardwalk; more than 300 major works of sculpture by world-renowned masters situated in galleries and the permanent sculpture collection; amphitheater; library; café; gift shop; classrooms; and meeting rooms. Its 2009 building upgrade was awarded LEED® Silver Certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. Among the many notable permanent gardens at Meijer Gardens is the Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory, the largest of its kind in the state. The five-story, 15,000-square-foot facility features more than 500 species from five continents among picturesque rock landscapes, streams and waterfalls, as well as varieties of tropical birds. In March and April, it is home to “Butterflies are Blooming,” one of the largest temporary butterfly exhibitions in the nation, which features tropical butterflies from Central and South America and Asia.

Nominated by the Garden Club Federation of Pennsylvania, Weigel, a certified horticulturist, has penned the popular weekly gardening column “Over the Garden Fence” in The Patriot-News in Harrisburg since 1993. He also is the author of the “Pennsylvania Getting Started Garden Guide: Grow the Best Flowers, Shrubs, Trees, Vines and Groundcovers” and “Pennsylvania Month-by-Month Gardening: What to Do Each Month to Have a Beautiful Garden Each Year,” that provide tips on gardening in the Keystone State. Weigel, who holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Penn State University, also has written articles for garden-industry magazines. Among his many civic accomplishments, Weigel implemented “Plant a Row for the Hungry” in Harrisburg, part of a national public service program of the GWA: Association for Garden Communicators and GWA Foundation that encourages local gardeners to plant extra produce each year and donate the surplus to local food banks, soup kitchens and service organizations.

Nominated by Utah Associated Garden Clubs Inc., Bossi has been teaching and guiding Utah gardeners for over 30 years. She is widely known as host of the Saturday morning talk show “Joy in the Garden” on KLO-AM, where she fields questions from listeners on lawn, garden and plant care. The show frequently is broadcast remotely at local gardening events, as well as from cities across the nation. Bossi also serves as a regular guest for gardening segments at Salt Lake City TV stations. She is the co-author of “Joy in Your Garden” and “The Incredible, Edible Landscape.” Bossi holds a bachelor’s degree in botany from Brigham Young University in Provo, and teaches area gardening classes and workshops. She also is a popular speaker at community gatherings, church groups and local garden clubs. In addition, she is a Master Gardener and Certified Nursery Professional.

About National Garden Clubs Inc.

Headquartered in St. Louis and founded in 1929, National Garden Clubs Inc. is a not-for-profit organization that provides education, resources and national networking opportunities for its 175,000 members to promote the love of gardening, floral design and civic and environmental responsibility. NGC comprises 50 state clubs and a National Capital Area club, 5,000 member garden clubs, 60 national affiliated organizations within the United States and nearly 330 international affiliated organizations with locations across the globe, including Canada, Mexico, South America, Bermuda, South Africa, Australia and Japan.

At the core of National Garden Clubs are local and national project initiatives such as “Service in Action,” to increase awareness of the importance of protecting pollinators and amphibians, a program bolstered by “The Frightened Frog,” an early-reader book written by two NGC members and illustrated by a professional artist that offers fun facts on nature and the environment for children in kindergarten through third grade. Ongoing programs include community and roadside beautification, garden therapy and healing gardens, conservation, recycling, floral design and flower shows.

NGC also offers scholarships each year to undergraduate and graduate students majoring in agronomy, floriculture, horticulture, landscape design, environmental concerns and other related areas. Youth programs include the Smokey Bear Woodsy Owl poster contest, a partnership with the U.S. Forest Service that has spanned over 50 years and Ecology Warriors, an in-depth creative learning and educational opportunity for educators, parents and students that offers a free, downloadable workbook on natural resources and school gardens projects.

Working in partnership with other like-minded organizations, NGC collaborates with Global Partners Running Waters, Inc., a humanitarian outreach effort that helps provide clean water, food and health services in Latin America; BeeGAP with Crown Bees, which offers guidelines and tips to gardeners on gentle mason bees and the critical role they play in connected ecosystems; Monarch Watch, a butterfly restoration and conservation project; Penny Pines, a reforestation project in conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service; Habitat for Humanity Landscaping; and Natural Disasters USA, which offers grants to garden clubs to help replant public areas damaged by floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and more. Among NGC’s most nationally acclaimed projects are the Blue Star Memorial marker program, which commemorates U.S. servicemen and servicewomen and beautifies public settings and funding and support for the Butterfly Garden at the United States Botanic Garden in Washington D.C.

# # #

(Media Contact: Patricia Binder, 636-441-0022, Binder PR and Marketing Communication, agent for National Garden Clubs Inc.)