By Huntington Lyman | Photos by Randy Litzinger

A plaque was unveiled at the dedication of the Polly Rowley Arboretum at The Hill School in Middleburg.

A plaque was unveiled at the dedication of the Polly Rowley Arboretum at The Hill School in Middleburg.

The Hill School in Middleburg unveiled the Polly Rowley Arboretum with a day filled with activities for all ages on Oct. 5. The morning began with teachers and students researching, discussing and drawing the dozens of varieties of trees planted on the school property by Polly Rowley and others.

The afternoon ended with a special “storytime” for the visitors. Huntington Lyman, academic dean at The Hill School, penned a story about the arboretum to share at the festivities. In case you missed it, here is “The Story of the Arboretum” which is open to the public. A new plaque unveiled at the dedication features a map and describe the arboretum.

Once upon a time there was a little school in Middleburg, Virginia. The children loved their school and they learned a lot, but their school did not have enough space. The children didn’t have much room for sports or recess, the classrooms were a little cramped, and everyone wished that there were more trees. And then one day the school got a wonderful gift! The Clark family gave the school the beautiful grassy hills, the red barn, three houses, and the big pond where peeper frogs and blackbirds live. And this land looked very different, because it had been used for farming for many years.

Polly Rowley talks about the arboretum after the dedication ceremony.

Polly Rowley talks about the arboretum after the dedication ceremony.

So a great friend of the school named Polly Rowley decided to help make the land better for the students and their teachers. She gathered her friends and she brought in rich soil and seeds and saplings, and she and her friends planted trees. And she had a vision in her mind of how, many years in the future, these trees would grow strong and healthy, children would play in them and learn from them, and the trees would make the school beautiful. And because of her dream the ground was prepared and the trees were planted and they matured. And the students grew up too and some of them got married and had children, and when those children came to the school it felt like the trees had always been there.

Until finally the trees got very tall, and they sheltered the paths and buildings, and every year they created hundreds of thousands of leaves. And they became an important part of what the children learned, and everyone who came to visit was amazed at the beauty that was the trees’ gift to the school. And even the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC noticed and recognized the school as a special arboretum, which is what you call a museum for trees. And ever since that day everyone at the school loves the trees and learns from them.

Visitors got a glimpse of the arboretum at the dedication ceremony on Oct. 5.

Visitors got a glimpse of the arboretum at the dedication ceremony on Oct. 5.

And the moral of the story is this: “The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now.” And everyone at Hill School is grateful that Mrs. Rowley decided to be such a good friend to the school more than twenty years ago, so we can enjoy her beautiful trees now—and remember to keep planting more for the next generation of children.

 

This article first appeared in the November 2018 issue of Middleburg Life.