Annual Award Banquet

Each year we select an outstanding individual to honor as Horticulturist of the Year (HOTY), and hold an Award Banquet in his/her honor. Our big social event of the year is set in one of our local botanical gardens, so guests can enjoy a lovely summer evening surrounded by plants and friends. The HOTY banquet also includes our annual Silent Auction, where guests have the chance to bid on hand-picked horticultural treasures gathered throughout the year.

2019 Horticulturist of the Year

Mike Evans


The 2019 banquet will be held on Saturday, September 28
at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden
(here is a link for directions to the Arboretum)

Join us at 5:30pm Social Hour and Silent Auction (closes at 7pm).
Dinner served at 7:00; presentation begins at 8:15. Banquet tickets are $50.00.

For more information and registration, see our Events page. To register with a check by mail, you can download this flyer: SCHS 2019 HOTY flyer FINAL.pdf

The Southern California Horticultural Society is pleased to present their 2019 Horticulturist of the Year award to nurseryman Mike Evans, founder of Tree of Life Nursery in San Juan Capistrano. The 34-acre nursery is the largest producer of California native plants in the state, boasting over 400 species and varieties. Through contract growing, rare plant recovery, and overall interest in plants, the nursery has handled over 1,000 native taxa in its history. Mike’s business partner of nearly 40 years, Jeff Bohn, attends to the details of propagating and growing natives at Tree of Life, and most of the nursery staff have been there for over 25 years.

Born and raised in Southern California, Mike demonstrated an early love for the outdoors camping, surfing, and hiking. From early jobs in nurseries, both retail and wholesale, he fell in love with horticulture. He established Tree of Life Nursery in 1976, specializing in native California plants and promoting an honest approach to California horticulture, specifically authentic garden design using native plants.

Mike states, “Thank God for Hilda, my wife of 43 years, who still has a keen eye for plants at 40 mph (passenger seat botany), and brings beauty into our lives with her amazing art and floral craft.” Their three grown kids spent much of their childhood picking up seeds and learning plant names.

Mike is affiliated with numerous conservation, horticultural, and botanical organizations, both past and present. His current board positions include the San Juan Capistrano Open Space Foundation as well as The Reserve at Rancho Mission Viejo, a 20,000-acre land conservancy in south Orange County. He is a professor in the horticulture program at Saddleback Community College in Mission Viejo and is also frequently called on to give workshops and training seminars or to speak to groups on native plants and related subjects.

The Western Region of the International Plant Propagators Society awarded Mike with the Curtis J. Alley Award as well as its International Award of Honor a few years later. The Orange County Chapter of the California Native Plant Society honored him with its Native Perennial Award and also acknowledged Tree of Life Nursery with its Horticulture Award. In 2007, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden recognized Tree of Life with its California Glory Award.

Mike says, “We hold all of these organizations in high esteem, and everyone at Tree of Life Nursery shares the credit for these accomplishments. The same is true for the Horticulturist of the Year Award from Southern California Horticultural Society. I am fortunate to be part of such an amazing team and to have so much support from family, colleagues and friends in the plant world. As growers, gardeners and plant lovers, we all go about our daily activities with persistent joy; and soon the days turn into seasons, then years which inevitably constitute a lifetime, and a lifetime with plants is enough of an award for anyone. So for me to also join the prestigious list of SoCal Hort HOTY recipients is beyond my imagination. I am very thankful.”

We invite you to join us in honoring Mike Evans with this year’s HOTY award. We look forward to sharing a lovely meal and also hearing Mike speak on the future of horticulture in Southern California, as he poses the question: How can millennials find an invitation into nature, using the same technology that distracts them from it?

For questions about this event, please contact Steven Gerischer at 323-257-3629

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