Massachusetts Horticultural Society digs deep to pass out prestigious awards

The Massachusetts Horticultural Society at a swanky event at The Gardens at Elm Bank bestowed its annual honorary medals to about a dozen plant-world luminaries, including two with long-time Wellesley connections. Former Mass Hort president Kathy Macdonald was awarded a gold medal for her role in setting current president James Hearsum up for success. Macdonald during her 2011-2018 tenure not only stabilized the organization’s finances, she oversaw a capital campaign that resulted in an overhaul of the Olmsted Brothers’ designed Italianate Garden, which included restoring the fountain, among other important projects.

Mass Hort, Wellesley
Former Mass Hort president, and 2021 gold medal honoree Kathy Macdonald, and her husband Kevin Macdonald, arrive at the event.

Macdonald has lived in Wellesley for decades and is perhaps most infamous for one year planting bulbs into the frozen late-December ground in her own garden. Come spring, they bloomed. So you see, the gold medal was well deserved given Macdonald’s lifetime accomplishments of setting new standards for future growth, no matter the medium.

Heidi Kost-Gross, who only recently left the town for greener pastures after 50+ years in Wellesley, was also celebrated for her contributions to excellence in horticulture for the public good. The gold medal honoree and former Mass Hort Board of Trustees and Overseers member was also deeply dedicated to the Mass Hort library. As a Chair to the Library Committee, Gross put to work her Radcliffe certificate in landscape design and landscape history to benefit the organization.

Mass Hort, Wellesley
From left: Penni Jenkins, Mass Hort Overseer; Heidi Kost-Gross, gold medal honoree; Kathy Macdonald; and Lexi Gross.

But to work with Gross to plant 10,000 daffodil bulbs along the 4-mile stretch of the Boston Marathon course that runs through Wellesley is to truly understand her organizational skills, as well as her deep level of compassion. Lining the race course with daffs was a project of hope after the tragic Marathon bombing of April 15, 2013. That fall, Gross rallied the troops, rolled up her sleeves, and got down in the dirt with volunteer groups from all over Wellesley to plant for the future. Come spring 2014, runners sprinted past a moving display of yellow flowers that flowed from Hopkinton to Boston. Not that we’re biased, but Wellesley’s display was the most beautiful.

Congratulations to Kathy Macdonald, Heidi Kost-Gross, and all those honored by the Board of Trustees of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society.

Mass Hort, Wellesley
Over 170 attended the medals dinner in the Hunnewell Building. Robert A. Bartlett, Jr. delivered the keynote address and was awarded The George Robert White Medal of Honor, Mass Hort’s highest award.