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SNA Announces 2020 Award Recipients

20 Dec 2019 3:12 PM | Karen Summers (Administrator)

Atlanta, Ga., December 23, 2019 – The Southern Nursery Association (SNA) has announced the recipients of the 2020 SNA Awards.  The awards will be presented at the 121st Annual SNA Business Meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, January 7, 2020, at the Baltimore Convention Center, Baltimore, Md., during The SNA Conference.

The SNA Awards Program began in 1956, when the late John B. Wight, Sr., suggested to the officers of the Southern Nursery Association that an award be offered annually to the person of their selection who, in their opinion, had contributed most to the advancement of the industry in the South and to the welfare of the Southern Nursery Association. This first award, considered a lifetime achievement award, was named the Slater Wight Memorial Award in memory of the late J. Slater Wight, brother of the late John B. Wight, Sr. Nomination. Selection is made by the SNA Board of Directors.

This year’s recipient of the Slater Wight Memorial Award is Dr. Allan Armitage, Emeritus Professor at the University of Georgia who holds academic degrees from McGill University and University of Guelph, Canada, as well as Michigan State University.

Allan Armitage is well known as a writer, speaker and researcher throughout the world. He has written over 70 academic papers, 500 industry papers, and 16 books that serve as classroom texts, reference books and gardeners’ companions. He teaches two online courses on perennials and has been writing a monthly column for a national publication – Greenhouse Grower for over 30 years. In that 30 years no column has ever been repeated.

Allan has introduced over 20 plants to the gardening community, including Verbena “Homestead Purple” and ‘Margarita’ ornamental sweet potato. He has also written an app for smartphones and tablets. Armitage’s Great Garden Plants serves as a bridge between the industry and consumer and has been referenced more than 100,000 times.

His company, Garden Vistas, has organized tours to the Great Gardens of the World every year for more than 30 years. He is an avid photographer and his photos have been published widely in books, and are sold online for use on labels, benchtags or books.

He has been honored with almost every award that can be bestowed, including the Liberty Hyde Bailey Award from the American Horticulture Society, the Hutchinson Medal from the Chicago Botanical Garden, the Medallion of Honor from the All American Society, the Silver Medallion from the American Dahlia Society. He also has been honored by the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers with the establishment of The Allan Armitage Leadership Award. The list goes on to include the celebrated Scott Medal and Award for contributions to American horticulture by the Scott Foundation in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, arguably the most prestigious honor in ornamental horticulture.

In addition to his many teaching, writing and research achievements and awards, in 2018, he was an important contributor to the team that won the USTA National Tennis Title for age and skill level.

Established in 1974 by David E. Laird, Jr., in memory of his father, SNA Past President David E. Laird, Sr., the David E. Laird, Sr. Memorial Award is presented each year to recognize qualified young men and women for outstanding service in the field of environmental horticulture and to offer inspiration for others starting out in the field. The recipient must be 39 years of age or younger and must be a member of his/her state nursery association. Nominations are made by the State Associations within the SNA region with final selection by the SNA Board of Directors.

This year’s recipient of the David E. Laird, Sr. Memorial Award is Autumn Schwab White, Principal and Owner of Dragonfly Landscape and Water Gardens, Tampa, FL. With her infectious spirit, she is a passionate springboard for the green industry. As president of Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association’s Tampa Bay Chapter, Autumn has infused new and vibrant energy into a host of local events and FNGLA projects. Autumn also serves FNGLA as Tampa Bay Chapter’s state board representative and served as this year’s Convention Committee Chair, helping to organize events at FNGLA’s Annual Convention. She received the 2019 FNGLA/Farm Credit Young Nursery Professional Award.

When notified that she had been selected to receive the FNGLA/Farm Credit Young Nursery Professional Award she said, “I wasn’t sure they had called the right person. Not being in the industry long, it means a lot that a group of people that have deep roots and generational commitments to the industry look at me as worthy of the award. It’s surprising and it means a lot. I don’t feel like I do enough, and I don’t think I ever will.” In that same humble spirit, she added, “But I hope to contribute even more in the future.”

Autumn holds degrees in geography and environmental science. A lover of the outdoors from a very young age, Autumn spent most of her childhood either at the base of the St. John’s River or camping and hiking in North Carolina’s Appalachian Mountains. After initially forging a career in IT, horticulture and love found Autumn through her husband Chuck who convinced her to partner with him in his business, Dragonfly Landscape and Water Gardens. The pair and the business have been going strong ever since.

You may remember Autumn from an episode of “Flip My Florida Yard,” where, as project supervisor, she commanded a pack of more than 40 as they sought to bring a brand-new landscape to the backyard of a wheelchair-bound veteran. Keeping the crew on task, they delivered in less than one day. Locally, she serves on the Old Seminole Heights Neighborhood Association’s Greenspace Committee.

A Central Florida native, Autumn enjoys tending to her vegetable and herb garden, cooking and exploring international cuisine in her spare time. A lover of old things, she and Chuck enjoy visiting antique shops.

Established by the SNA Board in 1992, the SNA Pinnacle Award is given to the individual within the allied industry who, in the opinion of the SNA Board, has contributed most to the advancement of the industry in the south and to the welfare of the Southern Nursery Association. This award is limited to SNA members. Nomination and selection of recipients is made by the SNA Board of Directors.

This year’s recipients of the SNA Pinnacle Award is Brent Harper, Cherokee Manufacturing, Nashville, GA. Born and raised in Pelham, Georgia, Brent Harper’s work ethic began at an early age while working on the family farm. With a desire to branch out and learn new things, Brent took a job at a local cabinetry shop in 1981 where he would remain until 1984. In the same year, Brent began work with Amoco Fabrics & Fibers of Nashville, GA, a producer of shade cloth and ground cover for the nursery industry. At the time, Amoco Fabrics & Fibers was the leading industry supplier to packaging companies as well as wholesale distributors of shade cloth and woven ground cover. Being fascinated with how the products were produced, used and sold, Brent took a job as a salesman with Cady Bag Company, Inc. of Pearson, Ga in 1986. His job encompassed Georgia, Alabama, Florida and South Carolina where he traveled extensively learning more about his products and customers. 

In 1990, Brent took a sales position with L & M Packaging out of Charlotte, NC. Although L &M Packaging was a much larger seller of nursery supplies, Brent rose to the challenge when he became one of the largest sellers of wire baskets and burlap supplies in the South. During this time, he made the acquaintance of the Gunderman family who own and operate Cherokee Manufacturing, a top producer of wire baskets. Making a name for himself, Brent was approached by Jimmy and Randy Stewart of Stewart’s Tree Service, Brookville, FL, to develop a fabric that would prevent pre-dug trees from re-rooting. In 1995, the trio elaborated on a ground cover linen which sold millions of pieces of fabric and are still sold today.

In 1998, Brent took his present position as a salesman for Cherokee Manufacturing, one of the largest wire basket manufacturers and suppliers to nurseries in the country. Cherokee Manufacturing serves most of the southern states. Brent resides in Nashville, Ga with his wife Valerie and their children Zack (Courtney), Ashley (Debi) and Brandon. He is Grandpa to Jackson, Zeke and Noah. He enjoys golfing, Georgia Bulldog football and spending time with his family.

In 1969, an Award of Merit was created to honor those individuals who have made outstanding contributions to ornamental horticultural research and, more specifically, to SNA. In 1972, the SNA Board of Directors resolved that the Award of Merit would be renamed the Porter Henegar Memorial Award for Horticultural Research in memory of the late Porter Henegar, Past Executive Secretary of SNA (1959 - 1972), to commemorate his years of tireless effort and service to the SNA. The recipient is selected annually by fellow research workers for his/her concern and work toward improving the nursery industry.

The recipient of the 2020 Porter Henegar Memorial Award is Dr. Robert Geneve, Professor, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, where he teaches Woody Plant Material, Plant Propagation and Topics in Plant and Soil Science. He also coordinates the internship program for HPLS horticulture and science. In addition, he is an Academic and Horticulture Club advisor.

Robert holds a Ph.D. in Horticulture from the University of Minnesota, 1982-1985. He is editor for the International Plant Propagator’s Society (2018 to present), associate editor for Seed Technology (2008 to present), science editor for the North American - Scientia Horticulturae (2001 to 2009) and serves on the Editorial Board for the Propagation of Ornamental Plants (2003 to present).

Robert is a Fellow of the American Society for Horticultural Sciences (2005) and a Fellow of the International Plant Propagators’ Society (2003). He has authored and published numerous papers, chapters and a book title Hartmann and Kester’s Plant Propagation:  Principles and Practices (2018). He has given numerous presentations on nursery production, propagation, irrigation, pollinators, pollination, and seeds throughout the world.

The Don Shadow Award of Excellence, named for the first recipient, Don O. Shadow, Shadow Nursery, Winchester, TN, is presented to an individual, corporation or organization that has provided exemplary service, leadership and generosity in the development, promotion and use of new and improved landscape plants. Recipients must demonstrate a sincere commitment to and passion for expanding knowledge and use of new and improved plants for the landscape. Nominations are accepted from attendees of the Southern Plant Conference and SNA Members. Nominees may be carried forward from one year to the next. Selection is made by the SNA Board of Directors.

The 2020 recipients of the Don Shadow Award of Excellence are Mark and Jolly Krautmann, co-owners of Heritage Seedlings & Liners, Salem, Oregon.

Mark grew up on a farm in Missouri and graduated with degrees from the University of Missouri in agriculture and Texas A&M in Soil Microbiology.  Jolly, the smarter of the two according to Mark, was a straight A student in Taiwan, so she also qualified for a Masters degree scholarship at Texas A&M, where she earned her degree in Soil Chemistry. So, they met in the basement of the Soils Department at A&M, and who could have known the mischief that followed? 

They moved to Oregon in the spring of 1978 and started Heritage Seedlings together in 1981.  Starting with Japanese maple seedlings and using only hand tools for all the work, they now grow over 520 kinds of rare and unusual woody plants. Although Mark is clearly more the “plant geek”, he’s quick to point out that no plant maniac makes payroll without a clever spouse who can help market them effectively. If you ever wander into their trade show booth, you know it’s Jolly who makes the sales and follows up with the details or Mark’s wacky ideas. 

Heritage Seedlings consists of about 15 acres of greenhouses and 120 acres of field-grown transplants on several farms near Salem, OR.  They employ about 75 people year-round. The firm propagates millions of seedlings annually, and about half-million plants by grafting, budding, vegetative cuttings. Heritage Seedlings is surely the world’s largest grower of Japanese maple and magnolia rootstocks. Their specialty is unusual deciduous ornamentals grown in pots, and field transplants up to 4 feet tall.

Mark and Jolly have long been involved in volunteer work within AmericanHort, the Oregon Association of Nurseries, and local Oregon charities. They also have widely acclaimed wildlife habitat restoration projects on farms they own, and an active outreach program with students, non-profits, and state agencies on conservation and stewardship issues. Recipients of numerous awards for resource stewardship, they also grow a wide scope of native plants, including rare/threatened species. Their staff botanist runs a separate seed operation that offers more than 100 varieties of Willamette Valley wildflower seeds.

The SNA Board of Directors also honors individuals that have served this association and the nursery industry in various capacities throughout the years and have made outstanding contributions during their active participation in the Southern Nursery Association with honorary membership awards. This year, one deserving industry member has been selected to

receive an SNA Honorary Member Award. He has, no doubt, made outstanding contributions to the association and the indus­try during his participation in the Southern Nursery Association.

This year’s recipient of the SNA Honorary Member Award is Jimmy Driver, Jimmy Driver Plant Brokerage & Consulting, McMinnville, TN. Jimmy Driver served as President of Middle Tennessee Nursery (1974 – 1975); President of the Tennessee Nursery Association (1984 – 1985); Member of the Board of Governors of the American Nursery Association (1990 – 1993). He was honored as Tennessee Wholesale Nurseryman of the Year in 1992.  He has served on various committees of state, regional and national associations.  Jim, along with Otis Floyd, led the delegation to facilitate the legislative and funding activities to move the nursery research center to McMinnville – the Otis Floyd Nursery Crop Research Station. Jim also served on the legislative committee of the American Nursery Association.  He attended conferences in Washington, DC at the Capitol and the White House.

Mr. Driver joined the US Navy at the age of 17 in 1957. He began his nursery experience by selling trees on the side while working other jobs.  Living in Chattanooga, and close to McMinnville, he would take orders and sell trees during the week to neighbors and fellow employees at his other jobs. After several years, he and his family moved back to Smithville.  Because there were no nurseries who would sell to the public, Jim started a retail center in the heart of the wholesale nursery industry named Cumberland Nursery in Smithville. From a meager beginning in 1970, the nursery grew to a 150-acre operation with twenty employees, Mr. Driver sold wholesale as well as retail. He was one of the first to grow trees in containers in many sizes.  This maintained the operation year around regardless of weather conditions.

Raised primarily by his grandparents on a small farm in DeKalb County Tennessee, everything revolved around producing food in order to keep the family going. Jim looks at this time of working with his hands in the dirt as the beginning of his love of farming and working with the ground.

In 1995, Jim embarked on a new adventure. He began a new business, Jimmy Driver Plant Brokerage & Consulting.  Representing nurseries across several states, he still works full time to this day. He currently lives in McMinnville, TN where the trees are!

Jim would like to remember two individuals who were instrumental in his success in the nursery industry:  Tommy Henegar and Edward S. Porter, both loved the SNA.

The SNA Awards Program is designed to recognize professionals for their distinguished talents, extraordinary service and life achievements, and who have demonstrated their commitment to the Southern Nursery Association and the industry through these annual awards. For a list of previous SNA award winners, visit the SNA website at

Founded in 1899, the Southern Nursery Association is a non-profit trade association representing the horticultural industry in the southeastern U.S. SNA provides member services to wholesale growers, brokers, retailers, landscape contractors, landscape architects, grounds maintenance contractors, interiorscapers and allied suppliers. The SNA strives to unite and advance the horticulture industry through educational, research and marketing efforts.

For more information on SNA, contact the Southern Nursery Association, Inc., PO Box 801454, Acworth, GA 30101, 678.809.9992,, or visit the SNA website at


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