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Horticulturist Isabella Preston was a highly accomplished plant hybridist and one of Canada’s most renowned breeders of ornamental plants. Born in England in 1881, Isabella developed a passion for gardening early in life. As a young adult, she moved to Canada and began establishing herself in the male-dominated world of horticulture. Enrolling in the Ontario Agricultural College in 1912, she developed her skills in plant breeding and hybridizing. After years of effort, Isabella debuted the acclaimed George C. Creelman trumpet lily in 1919. This was the first hybrid lily hardy enough to withstand Canada’s cold climate. An expert in the field of horticulture, Isabella moved to Ottawa to continue her work at the Central Experimental Farm where she would go on to develop over 200 plant hybrids. Though well-known for her affinity with lilies, Isabella worked with 6 different plants, including lilacs, roses, lilies, columbines, Siberian irises, and crabapples. By the time of her retirement in 1946, Isabella Preston had enjoyed a varied career, written many articles and books on her work, provided landscaping advice to Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, and even advised the Royal Canadian Air Force on plants for camouflage. At the time of her death in Georgetown, Ontario in 1965, Isabella had left a legacy that is still felt decades later.

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