Leslie Shields volunteering for CHS at the Hartfordd Flower and Garden Show, shown with friends /members: Adam Wheeler and Lynn Cavo.
CHS members have nothing but praise for Leslie Shields and for what she has done and continues to do for horticulture. Leslie is considered an expert plantsman and her knowledge of plant material is sought by many in the field. You can’t mention CHS without including Leslie’s name in the same sentence. Leslie joined CHS more than 15 years ago and since then has been involved in just about every facet of the organization from running raffles at the monthly program meetings to co-chairing the spring and fall plant auctions to serving on the Board of Directors and the Education Commit-tee. As if that weren’t enough, each year she adds her creative touch to the CHS Hartford Flower Show. And yes, Leslie is also head of The Hardy Plant Society, a complementary organization to CHS.
When asked what keeps her engaged in CHS, Leslie says, “I like the people; the social aspect. I also like being useful and learning new things. Being at the forefront of what’s going on in horti-culture is very invigorating.” CHS offers many opportunities to get involved, and Leslie’s advice to new members is to find something you like to do and do it. There’s something for everyone in this plant community. When asked what she thought when Elaine Widmer told her she had won the 2013 CHS Service Award, Leslie said, “I thought Elaine made a mistake. There are so many other deserving CHS members. I try to follow Fran Schoell’s and Joanne Luppi’s leads. I see them and others in the organization as my mentors.” (Fran and Joanne shared the CHS Service Award in 2012; Joanne passed away in June.
A native of central Connecticut, Les-lie grew up living next door to her ma-ternal grandmother Nana. Leslie credits her grandmother for her passion for life and horticulture. Nana shared her love of gardening, teaching Leslie the names of the wild plants and showing her how to harvest food on an acre of land. “Nana could make anything grow,” says Leslie. Leslie’s personal garden at home in Plainville reflects her roots. It began as an English cottage garden, but she has made modifications one bed at a time, adding conifers, flowering shrubs, and trees. In addition to her passionate for horticul-ture, Leslie has been zealous about educa-tion, having taught biology for 35 years in Southington. During her tenure as a teacher, Leslie was active in the Cetacean Society International, an all-volunteer, non-profit conservation, education and research organization, working on behalf of whales, dolphins and porpoises and their marine environment. A naturalist, a biologist, a botanist, a zoologist, an environmentalist and an ecologist... these are a few of the words that describe CHS’s 2013 Service Award winner Leslie Shields. Congratulations Leslie. You are a wonder. —Marcia Kuck