gold medal 2020
Image by Donna Moramarco

Helleborus x ballardiae 'HGC Pink Frost' (Helleborus Winter Jewels® Series and Gold Collection®) - 2020

Heptacodium miconioides (Seven-son Flower)
Gold Medal Plant Winner
Image by Vincent Simeone

Heptacodium miconioides (Seven-son Flower) - 2019

Long Island Gold Medal winner Betula Nigra Little King
Image by Vincent Simeone

Betula nigra ‘Little King’ Fox Valley™ (Little King River Birch) - 2018

Gold Medal Plant vine 2010
Image by Alexis Alvey

Lonicera sempervirens, Trumpet Honeysuckle - 2010

Gold Medal Plant perennial 2009
Image by Alexis Alvey

Abelia x grandiflora ‘Rose Creek’, Dwarf Glossy Abelia - 2009

Gold Medal Plant perennial 2009
Image by Alexis Alvey

Carex morrowii ‘Ice Dance’, Variegated Evergreen Sedge - 2009

Gold Medal Plant tree 2000
Image by Alexis Alvey

Stewartia pseudocamellia, Japanese Stewartia - 2000

L.I Gold Medal Plant Program

The Long Island Gold Medal Plant Program began in 1999 and is administered by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County. The mission of the Gold Medal Plant Program is to identify and promote exceptional ornamental plants that will thrive in the Long Island home landscape. Increased public education and awareness of sustainable plant selections are the main goals of the Program.

Four award-winning plants are selected each year, which may be trees, shrubs, perennials, vines, groundcovers, grasses, or annuals. Gold Medal Plant Winners are identified by the Plant Selection Committee, which is a volunteer group of horticulture professionals.

What is a Gold Medal Plant?

The Long Island Gold Medal Plant Program began in 1999 in an effort to promote exceptional under-utilized plants for Long Island gardens and landscapes. The selection committee represents a wide cross-section of the local nursery and landscape industry.

Why are Gold Medal Plants special?

  • Proven performance in Long Island garden settings
  • Pest-free with multi-season ornamental appeal
  • Adaptable to challenging landscape conditions
  • Easily grown by those of any skill level
  • Widely available from local wholesale/retail sources

2020 Award Winners

2021 to 2023 Gold Medal winners will be posted soon.


Acer triflorum (Three-flowered Maple)

This small, deciduous tree, along with the 2012 Gold Medal winner Acer griseum, is a trifoliate maple that is ideal for any residential landscape as a signature tree. It has a striking golden amber bark with vertically-fissured streaks, and come autumn its leaves turn brilliant colors of red and yellow. Reaching a mature height of 20 to 30 ft., growth habit and shape are uniformly rounded, with both single- and multi-trunked specimens exhibiting full, dense crowns. The three-flowered maple is very adaptable to a wide range of growing and soil conditions and is trouble-free. In fact, it is so special that Michael Dirr, renowned horticulturist and professor of horticulture at the University of Georgia, refers to this species as “one of my favorites; the bark and fall color cannot be adequately described in words.”

Ilex x 'Rutzan' Red Beauty (Red Beauty® Holly)

Red Beauty® holly is a hybrid holly introduced by Rutgers’ plant breeding program. It has fine, dark green foliage, and produces berries abundantly year in and year out. ‘Red Beauty’ forms a conical shape, maturing to around 10 ft. tall with a 5 to 6 ft. spread, which lends itself well for use in Long Island landscapes where other upright broadleaf hollies grow too large. ‘Red Beauty’ will perform best in full sun, but will tolerate partial shade, and as with most hollies prefers a slightly acidic, moist, well-drained soil. It should also be noted that this plant has few pest problems, and by all accounts seems to be deer resistant. Lastly, to ensure good fruit set a male companion plant should be planted nearby; Ilex ‘Blue Prince’ and Ilex ‘Blue Stallion’ are compatible.



Helleborus x ballardiae 'HGC Pink Frost' (Helleborus Winter Jewels® Series and Gold Collection®)

Hellebores are low-growing, herbaceous perennials with palmate, evergreen foliage. Their most impressive feature is their five petaled, bowl shaped flowers, which appear as early as December but more often in late winter into spring. The Winter Jewel Series® and Gold Collection® cover a wide spectrum of flower colors and forms including, singles, doubles, anemone-flowered, speckled, picoteed, veined and more. The pictured Gold Collection® Helleborus x Pink Frost is a big and bold variety with large flowers in multiple shades of pale to rosy pink. Early, long-blooming, upward-facing flowers rise above the foliage, which offers combinations of silvery green leaves with red stems. Hellebores in general are low maintenance, but prefer a moist, well-drained, acidic soil sited in a partially shaded woodland. They are adaptable, however, to most landscape situations (including containers) and in even in areas with high deer pressure as hellebores are deer resistant since they are poisonous.

Itea virginica (Virginia Sweetspire)

Native to southern parts of the U.S. Virginia sweetspire is a deciduous, flowering shrub that is appealing both for its ornamental and habitat value. From late spring to early summer, sweetly fragrant white flowers grow from stem tips and are highly attractive to pollinators. For dramatic ornamental effect and to best provide cover for wildlife, plant this mounding shrub in groups and give it room to grow, as it will spread. In fall, its glossy green leaves turn shades of orange-red to burgundy. Several cultivars are available ranging in mature size from 6 by 6 ft. for ‘Henry’s Garnet’ to the more compact forms of ‘Scarlet Beauty’ and ‘Little Henry’, which grow about 3 ft. in height and 4 ft. wide. The species can grow as tall as 8 ft. under ideal site conditions. This shrub is practically trouble-free and is adaptable to full sun or shade, but grows best in acidic, moist soils high in organic matter. Deer tend not to browse it.



Mina Vescera
Nursery and Landscape Specialist

Last updated November 3, 2022