Published on 05/04/12

Allan Armitage recognized for a career full of contributions to horticulture

By Merritt Melancon

The American Horticultural Society has awarded University of Georgia faculty member Allan Armitage its Liberty Hyde Bailey Award.

Armitage, an authority on flowering plants and gardening, will accept the award June 7 at the Great American Gardeners Awards Ceremony and Banquet, held at the society’s headquarters at River Farm in Alexandria, Va.

A professor of horticulture at the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences for more than two decades, Armitage has become a household name as an expert on Southern gardens.

“I am truly honored to receive an award named for one of America’s foremost horticulturists and to have my name on a very distinguished roster with other exceptional horticulturists who have similarly been honored,” Armitage said.

The Liberty Hyde Baily Award recognizes Armitage’s wide-ranging and lasting impact on horticultural teaching, research, communications, plant exploration, administration, art, business and leadership.

“Readily recognized by his trademark wide-brimmed hat, Armitage has made substantial contributions to all eight fields recognized by this award over the course of his three-decade career, influencing academia, the horticultural industry and home gardening in lasting and meaningful ways,” according to a news release issued by the society’s leadership.

In addition to teaching and conducting research as part of the UGA department of horticulture, Armitage helped establish the UGA Trial Garden for new plant varieties in 1982 and still manages the garden today. Since its founding, the garden has become a destination for professional and hobby gardeners. New plant varieties are tested and introduced to the country at the Athens garden.

Armitage’s annual endorsement of new heat- and humidity-tolerant plant varieties, known as the Athens Select list, and his 14 books on gardening and plant selection have provided trusted guidance to thousands of gardeners across the Southeast.

“He is also a sought-after speaker outside the classroom, imparting his infectious enthusiasm for plants to audiences all over the world,” according to the AHS.

Armitage has served on the board of AHS for several years and held leadership roles in other horticultural organizations.

In addition to the Liberty Hyde Bailey Award, Armitage is the recipient of the Medal of Honor from the Garden Club of America; the Award of Excellence given by the National Garden Clubs, Inc.; the Award of Merit from the Perennial Plant Association; UGA’s 2010 Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professorship; and the UGA CAES' 2006 D.W. Brooks Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Merritt Melancon is a public relations manager with UGA's Terry College of Business and previously served as a public relations coordinator for the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and UGA Extension.

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