Denise Adams

Owner & Entrepreneur

Ornamental Plant Historian
Author, Speaker, Researcher
Dillwyn, Virginia

B.Sc. - The Ohio State University, 1987
Area of emphasis: Horticulture

Ph.D. - The Ohio State University, 1998
Area of emphasis: Horticulture

An independent plant historian and researcher, Denise Adams treasures heirloom plants and the history that they preserve. "Heirlooms provide a valuable link between our present day culture and those who have gone before. One of my obsessions is to locate old cultivars of perennials and shrubs in order to preserve them for future generations."

"I constantly look for and research pre-1940 gardening documents such as periodicals or nursery catalogs to try to figure out the important plants of the past." Her Restoring American Gardens: An Encyclopedia of Heirloom Ornamental Plants, 1640-1940 book represents the results of her extensive interdisciplinary research. Adams credits her education at The Ohio State University with allowing her to pursue this passion. "While working on my Ph.D under the tutelage of Dr. Steve Still, I was allowed to form an interdisciplinary program combining horticulture, botany, and history, which gave me the skills to research my interest area of heirloom plants."

"I love to talk to people about the ornamental plants that are important to them and to their family's history." Adams promotes the bond between plants and people. "Many people are cultivating, propagating and sharing an old rose or peony that was a favorite of a grandmother or aunt. These are treasures in the gardening world and I have made it my goal to encourage people everywhere to preserve their 'personally important' plants."

"Horticulture is more than just a professional interest-- it becomes the basis for a lifestyle. The horticulturists that I know live and breathe their love for plants," says Adams, who is designing gardens around her 19th-century home that feature heirloom plants. "Plants sustain us physiologically, psychologically, and aesthetically."