Two years after being recognized by the Smithsonian and The Garden Club of America, The Hill School’s prestigious arboretum has been dedicated to its original creator.
The Middleburg school Friday afternoon held a ceremony to dedicate its nearly 20-acre arboretum to Polly Rowley, a mother and grandmother of several Hill School alumni and the one who designed, installed and, for years, maintained the gardens.
“There was no other choice, we knew it was going to be Polly from day one,” said Director of Institutional Development Will Nisbet. “We hope this is going to be the beginning of an annual celebration.”
The ceremony, which coincided with the school’s inaugural Arboretum Day, kicked off with a reading of The Hill School story by Treavor Lord, the head of the school. Three of the school’s alumni then gave brief comments before Carly Goins, a student of the school’s class of 2020, read a poem about a cherry tree.
Once Nisbet unveiled the Polly Rowley Arboretum sign, Rowley spoke about her time planting and caring for the trees and plants at the school and how more than a decade of work transformed the area into a prestigious arboretum. “I hope for the future of this arboretum is to have it accredited,” she said.
Rowley began work on the arboretum in 1993 when the neighboring land owner donated 133 acres to the school. After 25 years of work, the arboretum serves as an elaborate, wooded entrance to the school.
The Polly Rowley Arboretum is used by the school as part of its place-based education program, which has students using the outdoors as an educational resource.
In late 2016, it was accepted into the Archives of American Gardens at the Smithsonian and added to The Garden Club of America Collection as one of 51 properties across the nation.