Maria Moreira, painted by Central Massacusetts artist Rachel Armington, is the founder of Flats Mentor Farm in Lancaster, Mass. She is one of 20 plant advocates featured in the new exhibit.

The public is welcome to experience a new, curated exhibit called Horticultural Heroes at Tower Hill Botanic Garden on display from March 5 to May 12.

The exhibit celebrates 20 plant advocates from the past and present, including figures who have sometimes been overlooked in history books. Tower Hill staff paired artists from around the region with specific “heroes,” resulting in portraits in media ranging from pen and ink to acrylic paint to needlework. An opening reception will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 9.

“Each portrait tells a story of an individual horticultural hero and the artist charged with bringing them to life for a new audience,” said Kirsten Swartz, Tower Hill’s manager of events and exhibitions. “You see the vibrancy and life in the final pieces. The passion for plants, art, and nature really comes through.”

Clockwise from top left: Wangari Muta Matthai by Nettrice Gaskins; Johnny Appleseed by Sharon Jordan Bahosh; Michelle Obama by Elizabeth Koah; George Washington Carver by Donna Berger; Tomitaro Makino by Yoko Ohara; Marian Coffin by Fleur Thesmar.

The exhibit arose from the desire from visitors, members, and staff to learn more about people who have made a difference in people’s lives by connecting them with plants, spanning across time, cultures, and geography. In addition, organizers hoped to respond to the decline in the study of Horticulture at the collegiate level.

“Horticulture programs and students are vanishing at colleges and universities across the United States,” said Mark Richardson, director of horticulture at Tower Hill. “As an institution dedicated to promoting the value of horticulture in everyone’s lives, we wanted to collaborate on an exhibit that might inspire the next generation of plant lovers and leaders.”

Tower Hill Botanic Garden, a 171 acres property in Boylston, Mass., which includes woodlands, formal gardens, and an education center, is a nonprofit organization run by the Worcester County Horticultural Society. Founded in 1842, it is one of the oldest groups of its kind in the country.

“Tower Hill is a beautiful place,” said Jim Karadimos, president of the Society’s board of trustees, “but it also makes a big impact on the community improving people’s lives through plants. And Horticultural Heroes continues that effort by encouraging each of us to advocate for plants in our own lives.”

The portraits include rendering of Cynthia Westcott, Tomitaro Makino, Michelle Obama, Katie Stagliano, Wangari Muta Matthai, Johnny Appleseed, Ron Finley, Marjorie Stoneman Douglas, Frederick Law Olmsted, Natasha Bowens, Zara Ciscoe Brough, Rachel Carson, Karen Washington, Ibn Al Baitar, Maria Moreira, Theodosia Burr, Janaki Ammal, Pearl Fryar, George Washington Carver, and Marion Coffin. Visitors are encouraged to visit the exhibit to learn more about each plant advocate and to share stories of the horticultural heroes in their own lives.

To learn more about the exhibit, visit

To learn more about how to support future projects like this, visit

To inquire about featuring this exhibit in your museum, please contact Tower Hill’s manager of events and exhibitions.