Member Spotlight: Carl Ferris Miller (Min Pyong-Gal)

The Magnolia Society attracts magnoliaphiles from all walks of life and all parts of the world. In this spotlight, we reflect on the life of Carl Ferris Miller (1921-2002), known also by his Korean name, Min Pyong-Gal. Ferris was a Life Member of Magnolia Society International and served on the Board of Directors. In 1992, he was presented with the D. Todd Gresham Award, recognizing outstanding service or a significant contribution to the development, knowledge, or promotion of magnolias.


Ferris Miller was a U.S. naval intelligence officer who served in East Asia during World War II. In 1947, he made Korea his permanent home, becoming one of the first Americans to be granted Korean citizenship. In 1962, he purchased a plot of land on Korea’s western coast that would eventually become the Chollipo Arboretum, renowned for its diverse plant collections and seed exchange program. Ferris was known to encourage Korean horticulturists in their professional development through employment at the Arboretum, with many Chollipo alumni still working in prestigious positions in the field of public horticulture today! Ferris passed away in 2002 at the age of 81.

A full reflection on Ferris’ life is printed in Issue 72 of Magnolia (Vol 37:2, 1992)

Q: How did HE originally get interested in magnolias?

Ferris was initially known for his work with hollies, but his interest in magnolias appears to have been sparked after receiving a gift of Gresham hybrids from the late John Allen Smith. Since then, the Magnolia collection at Chollipo grew extensively, resulting in over five new cultivars!

Q:  What magnolia DID HE like the best?

Ferris selected several Magnolia cultivars including ‘Raspberry Fun’, ‘Yellow Sea’, and ‘Strawberries and Cream’. We’re not certain what his favorite was, but perhaps it may have been ‘Ferris Miller’, a selection of M. sieboldii with pink-tipped tepals discovered in natural lands around the Arboretum, or maybe ‘Kim Kunso’, a Gresham hybrid Ferris named for a former member of the Chollipo staff.

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