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Mary Hirshfeld, Director of Horticulture, Retires

Published: 
11 weeks 6 days ago

Cornell Plantations announces the retirement of the organization’s director of horticulture, Mary Hirshfeld. Her decision to retire will bring to a close an amazing career of 36 years of continuous dedication to Cornell Plantations.

Christopher Dunn, the new director of Cornell Plantations, remarked, “Although I have not been at Plantations very long, it is obvious to me, in every new discovery I make in our gardens and arboretum, that Mary’s hands have touched and molded these areas. She has helped Plantations to carry on Liberty Hyde Bailey’s dream of a ‘new type of botanical garden.’ On behalf of myself, our staff, and volunteers we are incredibly grateful to Mary for her 36 years of making Plantations a beautiful and inspirational place.”

During her tenure, Hirshfeld led the horticultural development of the botanical garden and F.R. Newman Arboretum.  With a goal of having a rich and diverse pallet of plants, Hirshfeld helped create noted gardens such as the the Bowers Rhododendron Collection, the Mullestein Family Winter Garden, the Treman Woodland Walk and the Zucker Shrub Collection to name just a few.  Hirshfeld also led the way for Plantations to become a member of the North American Plant Collections Consortium, which is a network of botanical gardens and arboreta to preserve key plant species and to promote high standards of plant collections management for its diverse collection of maples and oaks.  Today, Plantations’ botanical gardens and the arboretum serve as models for exemplary horticulture, featuring 12,000 accessioned plants comprising over 50,000 individual plants, all of which were selected to showcase the value of plants in our lives. 

Reflecting on her career at Plantations, Hirshfeld said "Over the past 36 years I have had the pleasure of watching and helping Cornell Plantations grow into a world-class Public Garden.  I've seen transformation after transformation, and I'm grateful to my dedicated staff that has helped us achieve that world-class recognition. If it were not for them, we wouldn't be where we are today. I'm comfortable in the thought that my team will be able to continue the work that we've started together, and look forward to watching Cornell Plantations grow forward.”

Cornell Plantations will conduct a national search to choose Hirshfeld’s successor in the coming months.

Click here to watch a short interview with Mary on her last day.