Ballard, nicknamed "Lady slipper Man," raised his seedlings in test tubes, then transplanted them to the woodlands and into the gardens of friends. After solving the propagation problem, he began a project to produce hybrids by cross-pollinating natural varieties, realizing that he probably wouldn't see the results of his work. "If they're like their parent plants in taking 15 years to get to the blossoming stage, I won't be around to see them," he said in 1990. In 199l he received an award from the New England Wildflower Society for this research.
Dr. Ballard explored the Norwich Grand Canyon and blazed a series of trails that became known as the Bill Ballard Trail. He distributed the assets of his creative estate, finding homes for the rare plants he had cultivated and finding someone to take over his lady slipper work. He bequeathed more than 40 acres to the town of Norwich where he was born, to be linked to the existing trails. "He was a wonderful person with an incredible diversity of interests," said Carol Folt, Dartmouth biology professor who shared lab space with Ballard.
Article copyright American Botanical Council.
By Barbara A. Johnston