Executive Director of the U.S. Botanic Garden: Who is Holly Shimizu?

Sunday, October 17, 2010
Holly H. Shimizu has served as executive director of the U.S. Botanic Garden since November 2000. She was introduced to gardening by her grandfather in Rhode Island.
After she graduated from high school in Philadelphia, she was unsure what direction to take. Her mother pointed out that nearby Temple University had an excellent horticultural school and Shimizu enrolled. She received her Associate of Science degree in horticulture and landscape design from Temple, where one of her professors insisted on called her by her botanical name, Ilex (Holly). She went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in horticulture from Pennsylvania State University.
Shimizu spent four years working in public gardens in the United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. Back in the United States, she became manager of the Potomac Garden Center in Potomac, Maryland. While still only 25 years old, she landed a job, in 1980, as the curator of the newly-created National Herb Garden, an adjunct of The United States National Arboretum. During this time, she also earned a Master of Science degree in horticulture from the University of Maryland.
She served as assistant executive director  and chief horticulturalist of the U.S. Botanic Garden from 1988 to 1996, and then as managing director of the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, Virginia, before returning to the U.S. Botanic Garden in 2000 to assume the executive director position.
Shimizu was one of the correspondents, for 12 years, of The Victory Garden, a gardening show broadcast on public television stations internationally. In addition, she can often be heard on National Public Radio and has written and lectured extensively in her field.
Shimizu is an advisory committee member for Longwood Gardens, near Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, and on the advisory committee of the American Botanical Council in Austin, Texas.
In addition, she has served on the board of Botanic Gardens Conservation International U.S., as a director at large for the American Public Gardens Association, as a panel reviewer for the National Academy of Sciences, and as an advisory board member of the American Horticultural Society in Alexandria, Virginia. She has also been an international and national flower show judge.
Her husband, Osamu Shimizu, is a garden designer who was botn in Japan. The couple met in England, fell in love in Belgium and married in the United States in 1979. They have a son, Bevan, and a daughter, Alexa.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
Holly H. Shimizu Biography (Architect of the Capitol)


Tucker Hill 4 years ago
I do not expect you to remember me, but Hal Wertz and I visited with you when you were at the US Botanical Garden the first time. We were interested in securing scionwood from the jujube tree in the gardens. You even permitted me to cut my own wood as I was uncertain about the wood you had one of your employees cut in advanced of our visit. You also suggested we give the tree a cultivar name. We choose 'Wilkes' which seemed quite logical. Hal, now deceased, and I both love words. Hal loved the sound of Franklinia alatamaha. He especially liked the sound of the Altamaha River where it was found. And we both developed a fondness for the sound of your name. I was delighted recently to learn that you will be the keynote speaker at the 30th annual meeting of TACF. It was that announcement in the TACF newsletter that spurred me to send you this note. Hal and I were both most impressed with you and often spoke of you. I am extremely pleased with all that I have read on Google about you, your husband, and your son and daughter. Because of our initial impression, I am not surprised that you were named the Executive Director of the US Botanical Gardens. Sincerely, Tucker Hill, Secretary Emeritus Northern Nut Growers Association

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