In recognition of lifetime contributions to the field of horticulture, Claire E. Sawyers has received the prestigious Liberty Hyde Bailey Award from the American Horticultural Society (AHS).
Sawyers, director of the Scott Arboretum for more than 30 years, was lauded for “transforming the Arboretum into one of the leading examples of campus gardens in the country,” alongside an array of professional achievements.
“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.”
Sawyers thanked the AHS for the “the wonderful feeling and sense of accomplishment” she felt from the award — the top honor bestowed through its 2023 Great American Gardener Awards.
“I’m so honored, even if I don’t feel like I deserve this recognition,” she said. “This is an honor as much about this place and my staff and our volunteers as it is about me.”
The AHS also commended Sawyers’ leadership of the Arboretum’s Arthur Hoyt Scott Medal and Award program, which recognizes top American horticulturists, and the publications and awards she has amassed throughout 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. Sawyers has served as guest editor for four of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Handbook series, and she has had more than 40 articles published in magazines such as The American Gardener, Horticulture, and Fine Gardening.
Sawyers’ 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 also served on the boards or committees of many professional organizations.
Visit the AHS website for more information on the award and Sawyers’ background and career.