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Things are starting to bloom this month as Duchess of Cornwall accepts garden presidency

The Duchess of Cornwall has recently agreed to become president of the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens in Hampshire.

The Duchess of Cornwall is pictured here visiting the Big Lunch Project at the Skainos Centre in East Belfast in May 2015.

The Duchess of Cornwall is pictured here visiting the Big Lunch Project at the Skainos Centre in East Belfast in May 2015.

Founded in 1953 by nurseryman Harold Hillier, it began as the Hillier Arboretum after he acquired Jermyns House and its grounds.

The gardens are a charitable trust that maintains 14 National Plant Collections and is the premier destination for horticulturists from across the globe. It holds 12,000 distinct species and cultivars including over 400 champion trees.

The gardens vary from the Centenary Border, Magnolia Avenue and Hydrangea Walk to wooded areas such as the Himalayan Valley and Acer Glade. Additional attractions involve a variety of adventure play structures and a children’s education garden. The garden welcomes over 170,000 visitors per year with 160 volunteers who care for its day to day running and maintenance. Over 15,000 people are yearly members.

Jermyn's House is a Victorian manor house dating back to the 17th century located on the grounds of  Sir Harold Hillier Gardens.

Jermyn’s House is a Victorian manor house dating back to the 17th century located on the grounds of Sir Harold Hillier Gardens.

Sir Harold Hillier was born in 1905. His father Edwin Lawrence Hillier was a world expert on conifers. Hillier following in his father’s horticultural footsteps dedicated his time to increasing his budding plant collection, pun intended. Numerous plants from his visits to Korea, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, the United States and Mexico grow in the gardens now.

In 1977, the arboretum was given to Hampshire County Council to be operated as a charitable trust. In 1997, the gardens were added to the Register of Parks and Gardens in England.

In 1983, Sir Harold Hillier was knighted in two years before his death at age 80 in 1985.

“We are very honoured and delighted to have The Duchess of Cornwall as the President of the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, which is a garden of enormous historic and scientific importance, and a very popular attraction for families across Hampshire and beyond,” Councillor Roy Perry, Leader of Hampshire County Council, which is the sole trustee of the gardens commented.

As President, Camilla now joins Lord Sainsbury of Preston Candover KG and Roy Lancaster VMH, CBE, the garden’s patrons, in continuing the garden’s work.

Sir Harold’s son Robert Hillier OBE VMH said: “I am absolutely delighted that HRH The Duchess of Cornwall has agreed to accept the position of President of the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens. This is a great royal tribute to my father’s achievements and to a place that has become very special to a great many people.”

Robert Hillier managed his father’s plant nursery business turning it into national success lives in Hampshire near the garden

In 2013, The Duchess of Cornwall visited the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, for the official opening of the Centenary Border, celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the gardens.

Photo Credit: Northern Ireland Office and Henry Burrows via Flickr

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