At the Royal Hoticultural Society's (RHS) annual award ceremony in London on February 25, 2016, the RHS presented its prestigious Veitch Memorial Medal to eminent horticulturist Marco Polo Stufano. The medal honors "outstanding contributions to the advancement of the science and practice of horticulture." In the 150 years that this medal has been awarded, it has been bestowed on only a handful of Americans.
Marco has been a mainstay of the Garden Conservancy from the very beginning of our organization. He was recognized one of five honorees at our silver anniversary celebration on December 3, 2014. The program notes from that evening summarize his contributions to American horticulture as well as to the Garden Conservancy:
“As soon as Frank Cabot began turning his vision of a Garden Conservancy into reality, he called upon renowned horticulturist Marco Polo Stufano for advice and guidance. Marco participated in early planning sessions in 1989 and has played a central role in the selection process for preservation gardens for twenty-five years. He has been instrumental to the growth of our preservation program and of the organization overall.
“Marco remains actively engaged in many of our gardens. He serves on the boards of Greenwood Gardens and Hollister House Garden and has been a key advisor to Rocky Hills, Chase Garden, and others. He has never hesitated to dig into the dirt hands-on, including participating in the garden rescue team that the Garden Conservancy sent to Longue Vue House & Garden after Hurricane Katrina.
“Marco has also participated in Preservation Weekends and many other Garden Conservancy educational events. In 2011, he and Henriette Suhr presented an illuminating public “conversation” tracing her half-century of gardening at Rocky Hills.
“After earning a degree in art history from Brown University, Marco studied landscape architecture at the University of Pennsylvania and went on to graduate from the School of Professional Horticulture at the New York Botanical Garden.
“Marco is best known as the founding director of horticulture at Wave Hill, a 28-acre public garden and cultural center in the Bronx, overlooking the Hudson River and Palisades. In his thirty-four years there, he transformed Wave Hill into an innovative and inspiring public garden. He has lectured widely on plants and garden design. Today, he continues to “fuss” in his own small garden in the Bronx.
“He has been awarded the Swarthmore College Scott Arboretum’s prestigious Arthur H. Scott Medal and Award, the Garden Club of America’s Distinguished Service Award, Massachusetts Horticultural Society’s Thomas Roland Medal, and Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Distinguished Achievement Award for his contributions to public horticulture. For nine years, the Marco Polo Stufano Garden Conservancy Fellowship, named in his honor, offered outstanding young horticulturists the opportunity to acquire skills in public garden management while making a significant contribution to one of the Conservancy’s preservation gardens.”