Previous innovator
« prev
Next innovator
next »

Polly Butcher Hill: The Julian Hill Magnolia

[ photo: Polly Butcher Hill ]

The Julian Hill Magnolia

What started out as a series of experiments to increase the variety of plant species on Martha's Vineyard flowered into a 60-acre arboretum with more than 2,000 individual taxa - azaleas, camellias, crabapples, dogwoods, hollies, magnolias, rhododendrons, pines - most of them grown from seed by Mary Louisa (Polly) Butcher Hill '28. Included among the plantings in the Polly Hill Arboretum are over 80 plants Hill herself introduced to the horticultural world, including the North Tisbury azaleas. But her personal favorite was the Julian Hill magnolia, a real Southern-style magnolia with 18-inch blossoms, which has no business blooming that far north of the Mason-Dixon line. The self-taught botanist won both the Medal of Honor from the American Horticulture Society and the Linnaeus Award from the Chicago Horticultural Society, and her cultivars are among the plantings in Harvard's Arnold Arboretum and the Winterthur Museum's gardens.


VQ Fall 2002
Photo credit: Allison Shaw