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About Holly Shimizu

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Holly H. Shimizu is a nationally recognized horticulturist, consultant, and educator living in Maryland. With a rich background in all aspects of public gardens, extensive experience leading garden tours and workshops, and a proven commitment to plant conservation and sustainability, she has been making plants and gardens more accessible and exciting to both professionals and amateurs for over four decades.


Holly consults public gardens and helps individuals envision and create peaceful and sustainable gardens. She also lectures and writes on a variety of horticultural topics and leads gardens tours, locally and around the world.  In 2020, Holly was presented with the Scott Garden and Horticultural Medal and Award from Swarthmore College. She also wrote and illustrated her first children's book, Figgy and Fiona Search for a Home. To contact Holly, click here

A Letter from Holly

"From an early age, I was always happiest when I was outdoors.  Whether playing in the Wissahickon Creek, or meandering the pathways of the Japanese Garden in Fairmont Park near where I grew up in Philadelphia, or exploring the cliffs or harvesting in my grandfather’s Rhode Island garden, I loved being in nature.  As time for college was nearing, I was lost until my mother took me to Temple to see the Ambler School of Horticulture and Landscape Design.  Something clicked and I have never looked back.


During the early part of my career I spent a few years working in arboretums and gardens in Europe.  I began teaching on my return to America, and landed a dream job at the US National Arboretum in Washington DC, as the Curator of the National Herb Garden.  I grew hundreds of different herbal plants and studied and learned about how plants are used around the world.  I discovered how much I love bringing people and plants together, and have devoted much of my energy to making gardening and plants more accessible and exciting to people. I have had some wonderful experiences sharing my passions with others, as a host of the PBS series The Victory Garden, as a traveling garden tour leader, and giving talks and workshops for professional and amateur gardeners.


With each new garden I visited and studied, I developed a deeper understanding of the ways in which gardens can have a positive impact on the environment. The gardens I admired were beautiful, of course, but more significantly, they were functional — providing food for animals and harvesters, capturing rainwater and cleaning our air, defining our sense of space, and creating peaceful and grounding environments.  This understanding and

appreciation developed into a sustained commitment to plant conservation and sustainability that has shaped my professional work and permeated my personal love of gardening ever since.


While Executive Director of the US Botanic Garden, I helped to create and develop the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES) and the home owner version Landscape for Life, which aim to create ecologically resilient environments.  I served on the Board of Botanic Gardens Conservation International, US and was on the Longwood Gardens Advisory Council for five years.  I have always found that collaboration and partnerships are the best way to be productive — that by joining forces we accomplish greater things.


I lead garden trips to many parts of the world, often in collaboration with the American Horticultural Society. I consult, teach and write articles, and occasionally work on special projects (recent ones include the Wilson Botanical Garden in Costa Rica and the gardens at the Rachel Carson House in Silver Spring Maryland).


My husband, Osamu, a garden designer, and I recently completed the design and installation of a new garden surrounding our house in Lewes, Delaware, built in 1730.  The garden includes an entry dooryard garden of flavor and fragrance, a tea garden, fountains, and fences selected to bring unity and create a sense of place within the neighborhood.  My garden in Maryland, selected as one of Southern Living’s Top Ten Gardens, demonstrates a garden designed as a peaceful oasis.  The garden’s unique style blends east and west with water features, a rich plant palette, moss garden, and successful problem solving."

- Holly

Professional Info:







  • Host of Victory Garden (television show on PBS) for ten years

  • Creator and presenter of numerous workshops, lectures and educational talks, for professional and amateur gardeners.

  • More information.



  • Temple University, Ambler Campus, Associate Degree in Horticulture and Landscape Design, 1974

  • Pennsylvania State University, BS in Horticulture, 1976

  • University of Maryland, MS in Horticulture, 1984

  • Washington College, Chestertown, Maryland, honorary degree of Doctor of Science, 2009









Numerous articles and videos on a variety of horticultural topics in national and local publications.  More information on our publications page.




Together with her husband, Osamu, a garden designer who she met while working in Europe, Holly designed and maintains award-winning gardens at their home near the Potomac River in Glen Echo, MD, and around their 1730 house in Lewes, Delaware. Holly provides educational tours of her gardens with a focus on ecological gardening, herbal plants, native plants, fragrance, and wildlife gardening. 

Paul W. Meyer, F. Otto Haas Executive Director of the Morris Arboretum (retired)

For over 40 years, Holly Shimizu has written and preached the gospel of gardening and horticulture throughout the nation and, indeed, throughout the world. I cannot think of another person who has had a more positive impact, influencing both professional and novice gardeners alike. Holly is an extraordinary horticulturist who has devoted her entire career to sharing her love and knowledge of plants with the broadest possible public. She has had a profound impact on horticulture in the United States and beyond.

Beth Tuttle, former President and CEO of the American Horticulture Society

She believes that gardens can have a positive impact when created and maintained with awareness and sensitivity for the short- and long-term effects of the plant choices, products used, and surrounding environment. She is quite simply one of the best people I know in the garden world.

Ari Novy, President and CEO of the San Diego Botanic Garden

Beyond introducing millions to the wonders of plants, Holly has also been a key innovator in modern American horticulture. After creating the national herb collection, Holly went to the U.S. Botanic Garden where she oversaw a cutting edge modernization of collection policies, physical structure, visitor services, and education that has become a model for institutions all over the world. ..Holly’s innovations in interpretation, sustainable horticulture, educational programming, and children’s gardening have influenced other public gardens nationally and internationally.”

Contact Holly

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