Polly’s initial fascination with Stewartia—the handsome bark, the pristine flowers—led her to seek out and grow as many species as possible. She planted seeds and patiently waited decades to see the first breathtaking flower. Today the Polly Hill Arboretum’s Stewartia collection numbers 98 trees representing 71 unique accessions. As a result of Polly’s efforts and our advancements in plant record keeping and mapping, a reviewer working on behalf of the Plant Collections Network appraised the Stewartia collection for consideration for designation as a national collection.
In 2005, after a lengthy on-site review, the collection received membership into the Plant Collections Network. The notification letter stated, “Your organization stands among a prestigious group of gardens and arboreta that have committed themselves to the conservation and care of specific plant collections curated at the highest professional level. Participation in the consortium means that you are willing to make your collection available for increased distribution and research, and that you promote public awareness of conservation issues.” Obtaining national collection status means that the impressive collection of Stewartia trees will be recognized as the most comprehensive collection in North America.