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News: 10/01/2018

Quarryhill Botanical Garden executive director retiring

Bill McNamara
Quarryhill Botanical Garden’s Bill McNamara will retire next year.

William McNamara, president and executive director of Quarryhill Botanical Garden in Sonoma Valley, has announced he will retire next year, effective Oct. 1, 2019. Internationally renowned for his work, McNamara has been affiliated with Quarryhill Botanical Garden since its inception.

“My work at Quarryhill Botanical Garden began over 30 years ago as the garden was just beginning, and in many ways, we have grown together,” said McNamara. “Finding somewhere to bring my vision for plant conservation, connecting with international colleagues who share that commitment, and becoming the steward of this truly unique place, has been a privilege. I am proud of what I have accomplished at Quarryhill and know my legacy will be nurtured by a new generation of garden caretakers who will enjoy its ongoing evolution.”

McNamara is one of a small and distinguished group of Americans who have been honored with the top three prestigious awards in the field of horticulture – the Veitch Memorial Medal from England’s Royal Horticultural Society, the Liberty Hyde Bailey Award from the American Horticultural Society, and the Arthur Hoyt Scott Medal from the Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College. McNamara is the recipient of the Garden Club of America’s (GCA) esteemed Eloise Payne Luquer Medal and, this year, was named an honorary member of the GCA, a coveted distinction that was acknowledged this August by the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors with their Gold Resolution honor for McNamara.

McNamara was hired in 1987 at Quarryhill as a landscaper, working closely with founder Jane Davenport Jansen to fulfill her vision. In the company of horticulturists from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Windsor Great Park, The Howick Arboretum, and others, McNamara has botanized extensively in the wilds of Asia. For three decades, each fall he has ventured into the mountains of China, Japan, India, Nepal, Vietnam, or Myanmar in search of plants. Working closely with local botanists, McNamara and his colleagues pursued their mutual goals of research and conservation throughout East Asia. Today, the 25-acre Quarryhill Botanical Garden has over 25,000 plants, wild-sourced and planted from seeds collected throughout McNamara’s celebrated career.

“We are grateful for all that Bill McNamara has done not only at Quarryhill but to further awareness of the importance of global plant conservation,” said Harvey Shein, Chairman of the Board of Directors. “He built an extraordinary plant collection, developed the garden for the public’s enjoyment, and brought Quarryhill world-wide recognition and accolades. We honor his unwavering commitment and significant contribution to Sonoma’s internationally acclaimed Asian botanical garden.”

McNamara plans to remain affiliated with the Garden, serving as an ambassador for Quarryhill. The Board of Directors will pursue a national search for his successor.

Quarryhill is internationally recognized as home to one of the largest collections of scientifically documented, wild-sourced Asian plants in the Western World. Quarryhill Botanical Garden is one of the most exotic and biologically diverse places in Sonoma Valley; located at 12841 Sonoma Highway, Glen Ellen, 996-3166,

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