The Hill School Arboretum has recently been accepted into the prestigious Archives of American Gardens at the Smithsonian and added to The Garden Club of America Collection.

The Arboretum was designed, installed and is still maintained by long-time Middleburg resident Polly Rowley, the parent and grandparent of several Hill School alumnae. Located on the Hill School campus, the Arboretum is used actively by the school as part of its Place-Based Education program. This program uses outdoor spaces as classrooms that provide rich opportunities for hands-on learning.

“I’m so pleased that The Hill School Arboretum is being recognized as a landscape to be enjoyed by the whole community,” Rowley said. “With its native trees and those from around the world and its spaces for play, exercise and viewing the surrounding countryside, it should be remembered as a sample of the possible in an increasingly urban world. Since it encompasses an elementary school, children will learn to develop a sense of appreciation and respect for the natural environment.”

The Fauquier and Loudoun Garden Club submitted the Hill Arboretum for consideration and was informed in mid-October that it had been accepted. The documentation of the Arboretum will provide scholars and researchers with a better understanding of its history.

According to Daphne Ward Cheatham, chairman of the Fauquier-Loudoun club’s garden history and design committee, “all of this information is vital in the event that some terrible act of nature may totally alter the property and Arboretum. The information stored in the AAG archives will allow some or all of the Arboretum to be returned to its original form. Without these storage facilities, very important garden history and design would totally disappear.

“This was a true vision and labor of love of Polly Rowley’s. It also was made possible with the help of many parents, alumnae and staff of Hill.”

Cheatham, a member of the national Garden Club of America (GCA) committee, prepared the notebook presentation for submission. Zone representatives and the vice chairs on the GCA prepare the garden submissions for the GCA collection. Many gardens, large and small, are submitted from around the country every year.

The core of the Archives is a collection of nearly 3,500 hand-colored glass lantern slides dating from the 1920s and 1930s along with approximately 37,000 35mm slides of gardens that date from colonial times to the present. The gardens documented in this extensive collection illustrate the design work of dozens of landscape architects including Marian Coffin, Beatrix Farrand, Lawrence Halprin, Perry Wheeler, Umberto Innocenti, Gertrude Jekyll, Jens Jensen, Warren Manning, Charles Platt, Ellen Biddle Shipman, and Fletcher Steele, among others.

The collection was donated to the Smithsonian in 1992 by the GCA, which helps support the AAG with ongoing research and development activities. Through its national network, GCA members continue to expand the collection by photographing and documenting contemporary gardens.