In Memoriam: Brian O. Mulligan
Brian O. Mulligan, a founding member of the Seattle Rhododendron Society and Director of the Washington Park Arboretum in Seattle from 1946 to 1972, died on Jan. 4,1996. He was born in Northern Ireland June 10, 1907, and graduated from the Royal Horticultural Society School of Horticulture at Wisley, England, in 1927.
Mr. Mulligan was best known and respected locally for his nurturing, replanting and early building of the Washington Park Arboretum. He was known internationally as president or officer of the American Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta, the Royal Horticultural Society and the American Rock Garden Society. He won the Veitch Memorial Gold Medal of the RHS and the Award of Merit of the AABGA. He published over 150 articles, collected seed on many expeditions, all the while guiding the development of the Arboretum.
When he and his wife Margaret arrived in Seattle from England and Wisley Garden they lived briefly in the stone cottage at the south end of the Arboretum before moving to their house in Kirkland where they established a typical collector's garden. For many years he and Margaret led horticultural tours to parts of Great Britain and Europe, and they made annual trips throughout the Northwest to collect material for the Arboretum's international seed exchange and for other botanical organizations.
During his years as director of the Arboretum he was responsible for the planting and plant acquisition. One of his talents was his ability to place trees and shrubs in positions where they would flourish and be most attractively displayed. He was also active in the introduction of such important plants, such as Rehderodendron and Garrya x issaquahensis, among others.
After his retirement Mr. Mulligan stayed on as Director Emeritus. Until just before his last illness, he continued to arrive at the Arboretum faithfully twice a week, working mainly with the records and identification of unlabeled plants or establishing correct nomenclature. He was always willing to identify specimens brought in by the public. His botanical knowledge was legendary.