This year’s winner of the Freeman Medal is the Ashe magnolia (Magnolia ashei) which doesn’t grow here so it isn’t of much interest to us locally. However, Carpinus caroliniana, commonly known as American hornbeam, ironwood or musclewood due to its closely grained and heavy, hard wood, was awarded an honorable mention.
The small deciduous understory tree or multi-stemmed shrub is native to the eastern United States and grows in USDA Zones 3 to 9. The slow-growing American hornbeam reaches 20 feet high and 35 feet wide at maturity and prefers moderate soil fertility and moisture, but can tolerate a wide range of temperatures, soils and moisture conditions, even several weeks of drought once established. The tree is much admired for its bark; the smooth, gray trunk and branches exhibit a unique muscle-like fluting. Resistant to disease, insects, ice damage and deer browsing, American hornbeam is suitable in a woodland setting, along a street, in a garden or as a bonsai specimen. American hornbeam was nominated by members of Rochester Garden Club, Rochester, New York.
Click here for more information about the Freeman Medal on the Garden Club of America Website.
* We should note that in 2014, our very own talented Angela Overy created a botanical study in watercolors of the twenty Free man Medal winners to commemorate the medals’ 20th anniversary.