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In 1921 he joined the family firm, Hillier Nurseries, his early career spent in assisting his father in rebuilding stocks depleted by World War I. He become partner in 1930 and head of the firm on his father's death in 1944, leading the nursery's expansion to become the leading British stockist of northern temperate trees and shrubs.
From the 1950s onward he expanded his interest to gathering seeds and plants from the USA and worldwide, donating many endangered plants to collections such as Ventnor Botanic Garden, Wisley Gardens and Westonbirt Arboretum. His own collection, the Hillier arboretum, at Ampfield near Romsey, was presented as a gift to Hampshire County Council in 1977.
Despite his distinguished work, he documented little of it, and his main published work was Hillier's Manual of Trees and Shrubs.
In 1972 he was made an honorary fellow of the Royal Horticultural Society, becoming vice-president in 1974. In 1954 he was elected a fellow of the Linnean Society of London, and received a CBE in 1971 and a knighthood in 1983 for services to horticulture.
- "Hillier, Sir Harold George (1905–1985)", JGS Harris, rev. John Martin, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004
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