Illustrator and plant expert John M. Hall dies

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

John M. Hall III, a leading tropical plant expert and illustrator, died Thursday at Hospital Calderón Guardia. He was 75.

Hall, who lived in Costa Rican since 1971, was considered one of the leading authorities on the plants of Central America and the Amazon. His extensive knowledge of these plants, along with his formal art training enabled him to bring to life many of these plants as botanically accurate pieces of artwork, according to friends. He also depicted animals and fish from the region.

Born in Palm Beach, Fla., he has lived and worked in his home state, in the Bahamas and other islands on the British West Indies, in the Amazon basin and in Central America. Hall not only created works of art on paper but living horticultural art in his continuing breeding programs for bromeliads and orchids, his friends said. He also was a skilled designer of gardens.
His works have been sold through galleries at major botanical gardens in Florida and the Bahamas. His first exhibit was at the Ormand Memorial Art Museum and Gardens  near Daytona Fla. Hall has illustrated numerous books, including "Web of Life" by Jon Stone, "Halconias" with Fred Berry, "Bromeliads" by Orlich Bench and the "Easy Guide to Tropical Plants" with Suzanne Pierot.

An intimate knowledge of the rain forests and an extraordinary ability to identify plants in the field allowed him to participate in the building of Wilson Botanical Gardens near San Vito de Coto Brus in southwestern Costa Rica in the late 1960s..

Hall placed thousands of the species growing there.. His design skills and eye for ecological development helped to make Wilson Botanical Gardens one of the finest in the world, said one admirer.

John Hall doing what he loved: Depicting tropical flora and fauna.

Hall's sense of design and artistic talents was not  restricted to the art and illustration world. He worked on many prominent architectural and landscape design projects as well. 

He participated with Neil Scweitzer on the Polynesian Hotel in Disney World, Fla. During his stay in the Bahamas, he was assigned the task of designing gardens based on salt tolerant plants and landscaping many miles of new roads with plants that were complimentary to their environment. 

The Environmental Design Group headed by Hall received many conservation awards for their innovative designs, and Hall's work in sand dune conservation has formed the backbone of the Florida law on the subject.

He is survived by two daughters, Lura and Denise; three sons John, David and Justin; 10 grandchildren, and a great-grandchild. 

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