William McNamara, the president of Glen Ellen’s Quarryhill Botanical Garden, has been awarded two prestigious honors – one each from the Royal Horticultural Society and the American Horticultural Society – that firmly establish his standing in the international field of horticultural research.
“I’m surprised, and of course elated, to receive such prestigious honors, and both in the same year,” said McNamara on being informed of the rare double award. The award comes on the 30th anniversary of the Sonoma Valley botanical garden, where plants from China, Japan and other Asian countries are raised from seed.
McNamara has been associated with Quarryhill since its founding in 1987. “When Quarryhill began 30 years ago, it never occurred to me that the garden would one day receive such international acclaim,” he said.
The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) presents its international Veitch Memorial Medal to persons of any nationality who have made an outstanding contribution to the advancement and improvement of the science and practice of horticulture. The society presented its annual awards at a ceremony in London on Feb. 22, which McNamara attended.
The American Horticulture Society presents the Liberty Hyde Bailey Award to an individual who has made significant lifetime contributions to a least three of the following horticultural fields: teaching, research, communications, plant exploration, art, business, administration, and leadership. This year’s awards will be presented in Arlington, Virginia, on June 8, and McNamara plans to attend that ceremony as well.
It is a rare distinction to receive both the RHS Veitch Award and the AHS Liberty Hyde Bailey Award in the same year. In 2010, McNamara received the Arthur Hoyt Scott Medal, considered the third of the “Top Three Horticulture Honors,” meaning McNamara joins a small and distinguished group of seven other Americans who have earned all three awards.
His association with Quarryhill began in 1987 as the local landscaper hired by founder Jane Davenport Jansen to install the original gardens. He continued to work closely with Davenport Jansen as the gardens and research institute evolved. McNamara was promoted to Director in 1994, made Executive Director in 2007, and was elected President in 2015.
“The awards are really for the entire staff, board, volunteers, and supporters, as none of this would have been possible without their contributions,” said McNamara.
Quarryhill Botanical Garden is a 25-acre wild woodland garden near Glen Ellen, featuring over 25,000 wild-origin plants from Asia in a naturalistic setting. It is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, for self-guided tours ($12 adults, with senior and children’s rates available). Docent-led tours are also offered with two weeks advance notice. For more information visit quarryhillbg.org.