Polly Hill Arboretum
Martha’s Vineyard, MA
June 2014

Polly Hill Arboretum is located on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, off the coast of Massachusetts. A beautiful location, but not an easy one to visit. But Martha’s Vineyard is a popular tourist area so I trust many people will find their way to this beautiful garden.

PPolly Hill Entry sign

Polly Hill is a 72 acre site, with 20 acres under cultivation. It opened to the public in 1998.

This is a beautiful arboretum built on the site of an old sheep farm. They have done a great job of incorporating features from the old farm into the plantings.

The Visitor Center is a lovely new building with solar panels and energy-efficient design features. The design blends in well with the woodsy, New England farm ambience of the garden.

Polly Hill Visitor Center Polly Hill Tour Sign

There are several other structures on the site that have been adapted to meet various arboretum needs. These historic structures add greatly to the aesthetics of the visitor experience, as well as providing functional spaces. Below is the Far Barn, used for lectures and special events.

Far Barn

In addition to the historic structures, there are numerous old stone walls on the property. Not only are these walls beautiful, they have been used to great effect as supports for vines like this clematis.

Clematis Guernsey Cream

The plant collection is a mix of plants native to the Atlantic Coastal Plain and eastern Asia. Most are well labeled so a visitor can identify most plants.

There are a number of different kinds of oaks, including this Daimyo Oak, one of my favorites.

Quercus dentata Plant Label

Polly Hill has a national (NAPCC) collection of Stewartia. This is an interesting group of plants with species native to eastern Asia and eastern North America. Many are great ornamental small trees with beautiful flowers and striking bark.

Stewartia rostrata Stewartia bark

Other great plant collections include: Viburnums, Azaleas, Magnolias and a beautiful Dogwood Allee.

The arboretum’s founder and namesake, Polly Hill, was a local horticulturist determined to expand the landscape plant palette of the island, The arboretum is a testament to her success. It is well worth exploring if you ever find yourself visiting old Cape Cod.

here to visit the Polly Hill website.

here to see more photos of Polly Hill.

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