Liriodendron tulipifera flower

The University of North Carolina
A Department of the North Carolina Botanical Garden

Weakley's Flora



Collectors of the UNC Herbarium

William Lanier Hunt
(22 May 1906 -- 19 October 1996)

The following information was compiled by Carol Ann McCormick,
Assistant Curator, University of North Carolina Herbarium.

The University of North Carolina Herbarium has databased approximately 20 specimens collected by William Lanier "Bill" Hunt. Most were collected in the wild, and date from 1932 to 1945. As more specimens in our collection are catalogued, no doubt more collected by "Billy Hunt" will be found.

Hunt donated land along Morgan Creek in southern Orange County, North Carolina to the North Carolina Botanical Garden. In 1990 Julia Larke documented the flora of this area, now known as the Hunt Arboretum, and deposited specimens in the University of North Carolina Herbarium.

Checklist of the Vascular Plants of the Hunt Arboretum and Grey Bluff Garden: including tables on the taxonomic composition of the flora, largest plant families, summary of the flora, noteworthy plants, and plants occurring on adjacent lands by Julia O. Larke (1991) and Conservation Project: the William Lanier Hunt Arboretum and Grey Bluff Garden by Peter S. White, Richard T. Busing and Julia O. Larke (1991) area available in the Botany Library of the University of North Carolina, and in the Addie Totten Library of the North Carolina Botanical Garden.

Portrait of J. Kenneth Moore (left)
and William Lanier Hunt.

Hunt donated the 100 acre Hunt Arboretum to the North Carolina Botanical Garden

Photograph ca. 1990.

William Lanier Hunt, F.R.H.S
"Dean of Southern Horticulture"

by J. Kenneth "Ken" Moore
originally written 1996; revised by Ken Moore in 2005

This short biography, based on personal recollections and more than five decades of newsclippings, was written by North Carolina Botanical Garden Assistant Director Ken Moore. It was distributed to the membership of the Botanical Garden Foundation on the occasion of its thirtieth anniversary meeting on October 18, 1996. This long-anticipated very special event held in the Totten Center of the North Carolina Botanical Garden was a celebration of the life and contributions of William "Bill" Lanier Hunt duirng his ninetieth year. Though Bill Hunt was aware of this special gathering in his honor, he was unable to attend for he was gravely ill in his apartment a mere block away from the center of the Garden which he loved so much. More than a hundred relatives, friends and associates joined together that evening in acknowledging his many, many contributions to the world of horticulture, his foundin of the Botanical Garden Foundation, and his lifelong efforts to keep alive the rich heritage, not only of our natural world, but the cultural life of our state and community. Bill died early the following morning.

William Hunt's Childhood and Student Years

William Lanier Hunt arrived in Chapel Hill as a student at the University of North Carolina in 1927 with two truckloads of plants, including a significant collection of bearded irises, many of which became the basis of the notable iris display of Sarah P. Duke Gardens on the campus of Duke University in nearby Durham. His interests in plants and gardening were nurtured when he was a youngster “playing” in his uncle’s nursery near Greensboro, North Carolina.

Born on May 22, 1906 in Pomona, North Carolina, William Lanier Hunt, the youngest son of Webster Milton and Cammie Cook Hunt, spent his childhood growing up adjacent to the J. Van Lindley Nursery, on the edge of Greensboro. His horticultural training began early as he attentively watched the operations of the south’s oldest (begun in 1822) and largest nursery. A “playing field” of four hundred acres and fourteen greenhouses of flora and nursery crops provided horticultural and botanical training on a practical level. The nursery staff included a number of European gardeners renowned for their horticultural expertise and experience. The young Bill Hunt found a space for a few of his own plants in every greenhouse and by the time he entered Woodberry Forest in Virginia, he had begun writing horticultural articles for newspapers and magazines. Some of his favorite plants accompanied him to prep school in Virginia.

The two truckloads of plants which arrived with him in Chapel Hill several years later, found their way into various gardens: some to friends; some to new acquaintances; and some to bits of borrowed ground for his won gardening. During these years as a college youth he established himself as a knowledgeable horticulturist and garden designer while pursuing a degree in Botany under the well-known Dr. W. C. Coker. At an institution where there was no horticultural curriculum, Bill’s horticultural background was immediately recognized and put to use with the development of the Coker Arboretum and the landscaping of the University grounds, while Bill gained a fuller appreciation and extensive knowledge of the South’s native flora under the tutelage of Dr. Coker.

However, Bill Hunt was not narrowly focused on horticulture and botany. His broad background from a cultured family upbringing and study of liberal arts at Woodberry Forest continued at the University where he was prominent in the University Glee Club and active in the Carolina Playmakers, as well as double-majoring in romance languages and botany. It was during these early college student years that Bill Hunt discovered and explored the rhododendron-covered bluffs along Morgan Creek east of town. Fortunately the beauty and botanical value of these bluffs, his beloved “Laurel Hill,” were recognized early in his career, for he pursued ownership of that large parcel of wild land for three decades. He was determined that it should be preserved eventually to become a part of a great botanical garden for the South, of which Dr. W. C. Coker was speaking as early as 1927. His enthusiasm and encouragements were rewarded when several gifts of property were made by W. C. and Louise Venable Coker and later from the estate of W.C. Coker. These gifts served to join lands to become what is now known as the North Carolina Botanical Garden contiguous to land destined to become the Hunt Arboretum. In 1961 William L. Hunt began making a series of gifts to the State of North Carolina of land comprising Laurel Hill rhododendron bluffs and Morgan Creek alluvial forest. This generous gift was designated for exclusive use by the University of North Carolina for the preservation of the significant natural features of the dramatic Morgan Creek rhododendron bluffs and for future development of the Hunt Arboretum of trees and shrubs native to the Southeast.

European Studies and Friendships

During this period Bill’s education and experiences were additionally expanded by a study trip to Great Britain and Europe. His studies were based at Kew Gardens where he made lifelong friendships with the notable horticulturists and botanists of the period. Through earlier correspondence, Bill had already established a friendship with Mr. T. Hay, King’s Gardener and Supervisor of England’s parklands. This association began an active exchange of plants and seeds across the Atlantic between English horticulturalists and this Southern horticulturist form the University at Chapel Hill. He brought back with him to North Carolina a strong background in the horticultural teaching practices of the Royal Horticultural Society, as well as a practical understanding of urban park planning and maintenance and knowledge of the rich historical heritage of English and continental garden design. Kew Gardens, being the active center of world plant exploration, provided an excellent background for the study of plants from throughout the worked with horticultural potentials for our temperate climates. This influence in the young Hunt’s early studies was to appear repeatedly as he subsequently traveled his own southeast region.

Wandering Garden Specialist

Graduation from UNC with the class of 1931 left Bill Hunt with a fine degree but still thirsting for more knowledge about horticulture in the South. Since there was at that time no real center in the South for advanced studies in ornamental horticulture and landscape gardening, Mr. Hunt set out to utilize his resources and academic discipline to design and pursue his own course of advanced studies of the horticulture and garden development of the South. During the next decade he became in his own words, “a wandering garden specialist.” Traveling extensively throughout the southeastern states from Baltimore, Maryland, to San Antonio, Texas, he gave garden lectures and garden short courses, consulted with numerous towns and cities on parks and beautification projects, wrote continuously for newspapers and magazines, and studied nurseries, private gardens, and cemetery plantings throughout the entire range. Keeping detailed records of his observations of plant culture and garden styles, he established himself by the end of the thirties as the “Dean of Southern Gardening.” (1)

Having taken all of Dr. Howard Odum’s courses at UNC, Bill’s horticultural expertise was recognized when he was asked to contribute a section of the Southern Regional Study of Social Science Research being conducted by Dr. Odum. Mr.Hunt’s contribution was a survey of garden clubs and gardening, florists and nursery businesses, civic beautification, and conservation projects throughout the South.

In spite of the fact that there was no department of horticulture at the University at Chapel Hill, Mr. Hunt established it as a center of ornamental horticulture in 1934 with the writing of The Southern Garden, a Study Course for Garden Clubs. (2) This was the University of North Carolina Library Extension Publication Vol. I, No. 1, October, 1934, which established the criteria and course outline, text and reference materials for a complete study course of horticulture and landscaping in the southern states. Under Mr. Hunt’s guidance the first gardening school was conducted in Raleigh in the fall of 1934 and repeated the following year. In the third year the statewide Garden Club of North Carolina adopted the course which was hosted in ’36 and ’37 by the Extension Division of the University of North Carolina. It is worth noting that during the short course held in 1937 Mr. Hunt began actively campaigning for more organized horticulture throughout the South. He declared that the South was behind the rest of the country in the study of plants. He publicly deplored that nowhere in the south was there a college or school for the instruction emphasizing ornamental horticulture. Nowhere in the South was there a real botanical garden in the true sense of horticultural research, education, and public display. (3)

The first such gardening school in the State of South Carolina was conducted in 1937 in cooperation with the extension division of the University of South Carolina. Bill Hunt was there as principal speaker and leader of several workshops.

Mr. Hunt assisted in the organization and was featured speaker at the first three day regional Garden School held in Laurel Mississippi, in the fall of 1940.

Continuing the horticultural influence of the University, Bill served as instructor for the University of North Carolina Extension Division for two courses in gardening and landscape design for Woman’s College in Greensboro in 1936. The University Extension Division also sponsored a short course on southern gardening at Blue Ridge near Asheville during the late summer of that same year. [NCU#69434, Geranium thunbergii, collected at Blue Ridge by Hunt on 16 August 1936, held by the University of North Carolina Herbarium.] For this series of classes Mr. Hunt assembled to assist him Dr. H.L. Blomquist, Head of the Duke University Botany Department, and Dr. B. W. Wells, Head of the Botany Department of State College, as well as horticulture professors from State College. For a similar series at Blue Ridge the following year, Bill assembled additional notables including Dr. Orland E. White, director of Blandy Experimental Farm and Professor of Agricultural Biology at the University of Virginia, and Montague Free, Director of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Work with Garden Clubs

During this decade before the war, Bill Hunt continued to promote throughout the South the garden club movement which had begun in Virginia in the mid-twenties. In 1935 he was honored speaker for the state convention of the Georgia State Garden Clubs. Primary themes repeated again and again during his appearances as featured speaker for state and regional meetings was the need for efforts directed toward civic beautification and establishment of city parks, as well as conservation of the region’s natural resources. These themes are all now regularly included standard programs of garden club organizations throughout the South.

He was clearly ahead of his time in other horticultural “preachings.” For example, during a gardening series in Vicksburg, Mississippi, in 1936, Bill promoted the concept of cultivating plants for fall and winter garden effects; he described a program for designing gardens and cultivating plants to attract birds to the home and urban landscapes; and he called attention to the need for southern gardeners to realize that their climate was indeed ideal in accommodating many more ornamental plant species than were being tried. He advised against continuing to try to grow many of the plants that were so popular in England and the northeastern states, but rather recognizing the ornamental values and logical hardiness of our region’s own native plants and those exotic plants from areas of the Mediterranean and North and South Africa with climates more similar to our southern environments. How often we hear today these same horticultural recommendations!

The decade of the thirties also saw the beginnings of rock gardening in the South. Mr. Hunt was Vice President of the American Rock Garden Society as well as the eastern regional section of this specialty plant group in 1936. During that year Bill hosted the first annual meeting of the regional group which covered the area from Philadelphia to Atlanta. His floricultural skills were called upon as he supervised the installation of rock gardening exhibits of live plants which were displayed throughout the University’s Carolina Inn, bringing amazement to delegates from the mid-Atlantic coast who were visiting the University for that meeting.

As the thirties decade came to a close, Mr. Hunt was still actively traveling and pursuing his self-styled study and teaching program. The breadth of his knowledge and influence was amazing. In 1939 he conducted a two-day Southwestern School of Judging and Flower Arrangement in Wichita Falls, Texas, and in 1941 he was back again in Texas conducting a Garden Conference sponsored by the Texas Federation of Garden Clubs and Texas State College for Women, where, in addition to speaking on recommended plant species for Texas gardens, and on daylilies and flowering bulbs, he promoted the “composting of leaves,” stating that “It’s a sin to burn leaves!” (4) Is this not one of the components of the organic gardening movement of the late twentieth century!

This man’s energy and dedication to horticultural study and teaching became legendary. His extensive speaking tours throughout the South lecturing, consulting, and encouraging communities in horticultural improvements, were seized as opportunities for extensive photographic and written observations along the way. One such trip in 1940 was highlighted in a Chapel Hill news release which described his fall tour of 3,000 miles in four weeks covering eight states from Virginia to Texas. (5) This volume of horticultural and botanical observations served as a growing practical resource for his writings for the remainder of the century.

The World War II Years

Along with so many activities during the decade of the forties, Bill Hunt’s southern horticultural activities were interrupted by the war. With the zeal of other Americans, he served with distinction, utilizing, not surprisingly, his horticultural as well as his language abilities. First he was called upon to oversee the planting and management of 6,000 acres of turf landing fields at Bainbridge, Georgia, used for training thousands of American pilots. Later he was called upon to develop and supervise the execution of the plan for camouflaging the strategic blimp base at Elizabeth City, North Carolina. Finally, he was transferred to Europe where his French and German language abilities placed him in sensitive activities with the Belgian underground working with the Allies’ Strategical Bombing Survey. During his tour of duty there he accumulated a valuable collection of Belgian Underground leaflets and other documents, which upon his return to Chapel Hill he turned over to the University Library, where they remain as a valuable archival resource for the study of that period of American and European history. Additionally, during this time there were periods of brief stays in England, which allowed Bill to renew contacts with horticultural friends and associates.

Garden Writing

Following the war and his return to Chapel Hill, Bill lost no time in resuming his active dedication to horticulture in the South. His garden writing resumed immediately. In 1947 he was appointed to the managing staff of House Beautiful as contributing editor for the southern region. In 1949 William Lanier Hunt was the author of a special edition, Southern Gardens and Garden Books of The Southern Packet, A Monthly Review of Southern Books and Ideas, Volume V, Number 3, March 1949, published by The Stephens Press of Asheville, N.C. (6) This work contained an essay on the “Romance of Southern Gardening” accompanied by a full bibliography of Southern horticulture.

Mr. Hunt was called upon to provide the special guest features for the March, 1951 special Spring Garden Edition of The Charlotte Observer. Demonstrating his lasting energies and popularity with readers in February 1961, he was called upon to provide the guest feature introduction for the Program Magazine and Flower Book for The Southeastern Flower and Garden Show held at the State Fair Arena in Raleigh.

Following the war, he was also immediately back on the road, being featured as special speaker at the Annual Meeting of the Georgia Garden Club in Atlanta in 1948 and again in Savannah in 1953. In 1949 he returned to Pine Bluff, Arkansas, where he continued the plea for the need for real botanical gardens in the South as institutions for the study and display of regional horticulture. Having been to Pine Bluff as a consultant on city beautification before the war, he was back before the Chamber of Commerce describing the wisdom of sustained plantings efforts and the need for city-wide planning surveys. He recommended the use of graduate students from neighboring colleges and universities as a prime resource to assist with such inventories and surveys. He was called back to South Carolina for the twentieth anniversary state convention meeting of garden clubs n 1950.

In 1954 honor and distinction were brought to Chapel Hill and the University, as well as to horticulture in the South, when William L. Hunt, one of the first American Fellows of the Royal Horticultural Society (F.R.H.S.) was invited to lecture before a mid-June meeting of the Society in London. He was also the official delegate of the American Horticultural Society for the occasion of the Royal Horticultural Society’s sesquicentennial on July 27. (7) During this summer of study traveling throughout England and France and Italy, Bill continued to submit his well-known “The Southern Gardener” weekly garden column which the Durham Morning Herald was pleased to continue running as a “different” type of column on gardening and traveling. Mr. Hunt’s columns ere carried by a number of different papers during the years. The breadth of his knowledge and experience and his skills as a writer are certainly demonstrated by the fact that his columns were carried simultaneously by papers as geographically separated as the Durham Morning Herald and The Shreveport [Louisiana] Times.

During the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s Mr. Hunt’s energies were also directed to the collecting of horticultural, botanical, and landscaping volumes, such as Curtis’s Botanical Magazine dating back to its firs volume issued in 1787 describing the early years of American/European horticultural exchange and world plant exploration. He set out to obtain, wherever and whenever he was able, volumes that would have information pertinent to gardening in the southern states because there was a great lack of any significant collections of relevant gardening books in southern colleges and universities. Mr. Hunt’s collection has grown to considerable botanical and horticultural value. Recognizing Mr. Hunt’s achievement in assembling such a fine collection of horticultural volumes, the University of North Carolina, with Mr. Hunt’s cooperation and advice, staged in the Wilson Library an exhibition of rare garden books during the summer of 1958. (8)

Mr. Hunt was very much a part of a significant Southern gardening literary event in 1967. At his urging the UNC Press published a revised edition of the 1942 publication, A Southern Garden, by his friend and garden associate, Elizabeth Lawrence. For this long awaited publication, Bill Hunt wrote the Foreword and provided numerous new photographs made in cooperation with the accomplished photographer, Bayard Wooten.

North Carolina Botanical Garden

Bill Hunt directed much of his energy during the decade of the 60’s to pursuing the dream begun by W. C. Coker of establishing a great university botanical garden for the study and display of native and hardy flora in the south. Up to this time Mr. Hunt had quietly succeeded in accumulating land including the “Laurel Hill “ section along Morgan Creek so that he could offer 100 acres of that land to become the Hunt Arboretum. Bill convinced Chancellor Aycock to guide the University Trustees in designating additional University land, including portions of the Mason Farm tract, for use as the North Carolina Botanical Garden, thereby joining the Hunt Arboretum and the Botanical Garden as a larger single entity. The Garden was officially opened in 1966 by the first Director, Dr. C. Ritchie Bell, as a series of nature trails laid out by William L. Hunt, who served as garden designer. During this time Bill Hunt was asked by Dr. John Couch, Chairman of the Botany Department, to organize an Advisory Board for the Botanical Garden, which he did, appointing from throughout the state a number of citizens of distinction with particular interests n the Botanical Garden and conservation. During the first meeting, realizing the need for future financial and other support in addition to what may be possible through the normal University budgetary channels, Mr. Hunt initiated the founding of a tax-free foundation “to receive funds and hold lands” for the benefit of the North Carolina Botanical Garden. Significantly, Mr. Hunt took care that the Foundation’s structure was established with the flexibility to assist, by action of the Board, worthy botanical, horticultural, or conservation activities elsewhere in the South. That group, for which Bill Hunt served as the first President, is recognized today as the Botanical Garden Foundation, Inc., which supplements the State appropriations for support of the Botanical Garden. Mr. Hunt donated significant financial resources during the early years of the Garden to assist with hiring part-time and seasonal workers during the years when there were no funds available for such purposes. As the Garden became established following the initial state funding, he continued to assist its growth and development by offering lectures and seminars at the Garden and at other locations. One of Mr. Hunt’s most memorable and popular programs during the 80’s was a winter horticultural / historical walk through the Coker Arboretum and across the landscape of the original part of the UNC campus. His stories ranged from early recollections of Dr. W. C. Coker’s plantings in the Coker Arboretum to memorable accounts of the lively personalities who played significant roles in the development of the University.

Work with Students of Horticulture

During this period he also assisted students of botany and horticulture in a number of ways. Some were given seasonal employment assisting in the maintenance of Mr. Hunt’s own small but horticulturally significant garden, developed in a small portion of the Hunt Arboretum. He provided the resources and special introductions for study trips to England to supplement the education of several students. One of these students became the Director of a southern university horticultural garden, another became an Assistant Director of a similar institution, and another became the Director of a statewide prison horticultural training program.

Mr. Hunt worked enthusiastically with horticulturalist Mr. Frederick Heutte, lending assistance in establishing the Landscape Gardening School at the Sandhills Community College. This two-year degree program offers an intense, practical work-study program patterned after the similar programs administered at Wisley Gardens of the Royal Horticultural Society in England. Mr. Hunt continued to support the program by offering seminars and lectures to the Sandhills students on a regular basis.

After a decade of preoccupation with the Botanical Garden, Mr. Hunt again became active on the rod throughout the South. He was the keynote speaker in Shreveport, Louisiana, for the formal dedication of the R.S. Barnwell Memorial Garden and Art Center in 1970 and returned in 1975 to conduct a one-man, two-day William Lanier Hunt Garden Symposium held at the Barnwell Center. (9)

History of Gardening in the American South

Traveling and lecturing throughout the South in these most recent years, Mr. Hunt has turned his attention to the historical aspects of southern gardens and gardening. He is the initiator and incorporator and one of the founders of the Southern Garden History Society covering a fifteen-state region. This Society began in 1982 and now has an active membership of more than six hundred avid gardeners and garden historians. Honoring his contribution to the Society, the Board of Directors named him lifelong Honorary President.

Similar organizations which have resulted from Mr. Hunt’s enthusiasm, expertise and support are the Piedmont Heritage Rose Society, the Heritage Rose Foundation, established for the preservation and study of old roses throughout America.

While making contributions on behalf of numerous academic and public societies through his encouragements and communications about southern gardening and civic beautification, his greatest passion remained dedicated to the support of making the North Carolina Botanical Garden and the Hunt Arboretum a reality.

Interest in Fine Arts

His interests, studies, and resources, however, have not been exclusively directed to pursuing gardening themes. There is evidence dating back to his early years at the University in Chapel Hill that he has continued to be a student and promoter of the humanities and arts. In the early years he worked actively with Bobby Hedgcock, Frank Howell, and the legendary “Proff” Koch in organizing the UNC Concert and Entertainment Series. He continued on after graduation for several years (1927-1933) as voice coach and baritone soloist with the UNC Glee Club and accompanied the group on its English tour for the benefit concert for the rebuilding of the Shakespeare theater at Stratford-on-Avon. He was a member of the Men’s Dance Group, and interest which he continued by providing seating for numerous students of horticulture and the humanities at local dance performances, particularly during the summer American Dance Festival series in Durham, N.C.

In the late 30’s he borrowed a one-woman show of the art of Miss Rosamund Niles and hung it on both floors of the present Music Department. It was the first big art exhibit ever hung at the University. Guests from the press boxes at the home football game were invited for a two-hour reception where hundreds of guests included University President Frank Graham and Dean of Administration Robert House. The creation of the University’s Department of Art was soon to follow.

One day in the mid-60’s Bill took a close look at an oriental carpet and realized that therein lay the very fabric of several human cultures interwoven with a diversity of plant heritage motifs including the native plant dyes and garden and flower inspired designs. In his characteristic “always-a-student” manner, he tacked the study of oriental carpet design and history for the next several years, achieving an academic expertise that resulted in his providing a number of oriental carpet lectures to interested audiences throughout the state. Accompany him was his own “teaching” collection of carpets, themselves a small museum of historical and instructional value. Mr. Hunt’s expertise captured the attention of Dr. Wilton Mason, Professor Emeritus of the University of North Carolina and former Chairman of the Department of Music and the Division of Fine Arts, who honored the new rug collector in an article in the noted international journal of oriental carpets, Hali, Vol. 5, No. 3, 1983. (10)

Lifetime Awards

In the early 80’s William L. Hunt became most notably recognized to the younger adult generations as the author of Southern Gardens, Southern Gardening. Bill’s close gardening friend, Elizabeth Lawrence, whose own gardening books have become legendary since her death, wrote the Introduction to Bill’s book. In addition to providing an interesting personal historical account, she paid tribute not only to the horticultural knowledge and skills of William L. Hunt, but also to the many long years of Bill Hunt’s effort to preserve a significant bit of local wilderness and provide for the dream of a great southern botanical garden: “Then in 1960 he began to transfer the land to the university, as the Hunt Arboretum, to be administered under the new North Carolina Botanical Garden. When the gift was announced in 1961, Burke Davis wrote in his ‘Tar Heel Notebook’ (Greensboro Daily News, November 26), that it was ‘one of the greatest gifts to the public wealth, to be remembered as long as we are spared the thermonuclear torch. A handsome gesture indeed.’” (11)

In 1995 William L. Hunt was named an Honorary Member of the Garden Writers Association of America. This honor is conferred by vote of the Board of Directors to an individual who has contributed measurably to the objectives of the organization.

Honor was brought to the University and Chapel Hill in May of 1996 when Mr. Hunt hosted The International Dendrology Society during its tour across Virginia and North Carolina as part of its Annual Meeting. Society members from as far away as Belgium, Argentina and Australia were impressed with the mature trees of the UNC campus and the diversity of plants at the Botanical Garden and enjoyed Bill Hunt’s accounts of some of the heritage of UNC and Chapel Hill. A highlight of the visit was the special recognition by the Society for his many years of horticultural achievements as well as a singing tribute by all in honor of Bill Hunt’s Month-of-May ninetieth birthday.

At its 30th anniversary meeting in October, 1996, the Board of Directors of the Botanical Garden Foundation, Inc. and special friends shared in honoring “Bill” Hunt as their “Founder” and as recipient of the North Carolina Botanical Garden’s own special FLORA CAROLINIANA AWARD. This special award was presented to William Lanier Hunt “In celebration of his enthusiasm and service to the preservation, restoration and appreciation of the natural world around us.” This award previously has been presented to Lady Bird Johnson and to internationally known naturalist, John Terres.

Reflecting upon is distinguished horticultural career Southern Living Magazine Garden Editor Linda Askey described him: “Bill Hunt as been my link to Southern garden heritage. He and his contemporaries, Elizabeth Lawrence and Caroline Dorman, gardened voraciously and wrote eloquently, setting a pace that challenges the most experienced gardeners with their diverse palette of plants… while offering the simple understandings that beginners need. While being the essence of the grand gentleman of the garden, Bill has the spark of enthusiasm that keeps him ever young and ever dear to the countless gardeners he has influenced.”

Today we all, plants-people or not, celebrate the energies and contributions of William L. Hunt, “the Dean of Southern Horticulture.” He became indeed a living legend, whose pursuits never waned from that time in 1927 when he arrived with his truckloads of plants at the University at Chapel until his death on October 19, 1996. For Botany, for Horticulture, for encouragements to students and adults alike, for civic beautification, for the recognition of our regional flora, for early promotion of organic gardening, for preservation of southern garden history, and the appreciation of music and other arts, his achievements are “A handsome gesture, indeed.”

1. Program Speaker notes of the Annual Meeting of the National Council of State Garden Clubs.
2. Hunt, William L. 1934. The Southern Garden: A Study Course for Garden Clubs, First Series. The Unviersity of North Carolina Library Extension Publication.
3. 1958. The TImes. Shreveport, La. January 23.
4. 1941. The Dallas Morning News. January 15.
5. 1958. The Greensboro Daily News. November 23.
6. Hunt, William L. March 1949. Southern Gardens and Garden Books. The Southern Pakcet: A Monthly Review of Southern Books an Ideas. The Stephens PRess, Asheville, N.C.
7. 1954. The Durham Morning HErald. May 29.
8. 1958. The Charlotte Observer. July 20.
9. 1970. The Shreveport TImes. October 12.
10. Mason, Wilton. 1983. Portrait of Southern Collector: William Lanier Hunt. Hali 5(3).
11. Hunt, WIlliam L. 1982. Southern Gardens, Southern Gardening. Duke University Press, Durham, N.C.


Special Thanks to:
Ken Moore, Curator Emeritus of the North Carolina Botanical Garden, for providing this biographical sketch of William Lanier Hunt.

Laura Cotterman, Publications and Publicity Coordinator for the North Carolina Botanical Garden, for providing the photograph of Ken Moore and Billy Hunt.

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Last Updated: 8 March 2006