The 2012 GCA Plant of the Year



The 2012 GCA Plant of the Year

The Garden Club of America Horticulture Committee is proud to announce that The 2012 GCA Plant of the Year, winning the Montine McDaniel Freeman Medal is Muhlenbergia capillaris. Brian Holley, Director of the Naples Botanical Garden, Florida nominated “Muhly grass” or “Pink muhly." Brett Adams, Curator of Collections, submitted the application for the Naples Botanical Garden. This is a first nomination from the Naples Botanical Garden. The medal was awarded at the GCA Annual Meeting in Savannah, GA, on April 24, 2012.

This is the only award given by the Garden Club of America to a plant. Beginning in 1995, the award has been given to a choice native plant which is under-utilized but which possess superior ornamental and ecological attributes. The goal of the award is to encourage distribution of these plants furthering their use in the landscape. The Medal honors Montine McDaniel Freeman, a member of the New Orleans Town Gardeners and was given in her memory by her son and daughter-in-law, Louis and Judy Freeman.

Muhlenbergia capillaris, a member of the horticultural Poacea family, is named to honor an American amateur botanist, Gotthanick Muhlengerg. Among the many Muhlenberg grasses, this plant stands out by exhibiting exceptional fall color with dark to bright pink flowers followed by tan to gold seed hairs. It provides year round interest with fine foliage and may be used to help stabilize canals and drainage ponds. Muhly grass adds interest to border gardens and blends well in native grass plantings. It is native to sandy alkaline dunes from Massachusetts to Florida and throughout the Gulf Coast. It grows best in an organic soil with a pH in the range of 5.5 to 6.8. A plant for a full sun location, Muhly grass can tolerate some shade. It is disease resistant and easily maintained with an annual pruning. Presently it is not widely cultivated in the north and should find more uses in USDA Zones 6 and 5.

TO GENUS Echinacea

During the deliberations to name the GCA Plant of the Year among the horticulture experts, it was noted that there has been a wonderful increase in the number of cultivars in theEchinacea genus. The genus Echinacea was awarded Honorable Mention because of its importance to the native landscape and to acknowledge the many uses in today’s gardens. The several cultivars, range of colors and hardiness make it suitable for most gardens and particularly attractive to butterflies and bees.