Shelley Dillard

Shelly Dillard

Photo credit: Mark Stehle

WHO SHE IS: Propagator, Morris Arboretum


WHAT SHE DOES: Dillard raises plants for the Arboretum’s ever-growing living collection. She takes the wild seeds collected by the Arboretum and helps bring them to life. And how many species does that include? “Oh my God, I knew you were going to ask me that,” Dillard says. “I don’t know the real number. You can safely say there are thousands.”

WHERE FROM?: Besides collecting seeds from the U.S., the Arboretum also makes it a point to collect species from all over the globe. In recent years, Dillard has helped raise plants native to such far-flung places as China, the Republic of Georgia, South Korea and Armenia.

BEST PART OF HER JOB: “The best part of my job is that I do something different every day. I never get over the excitement of going into the greenhouse and seeing that seeds have germinated.”

Originally published on January 12, 2006