Dr. Stephen Southall

Stephen Southall grew up on Chick Cove Farm in Deltaville, Virginia, where from a very young age he developed an appreciation and love for the land and the plants that thrived there. He also discovered that he derived great satisfaction from operating and maintaining the equipment that was used to run the family business. The foundation for his future ventures with English Boxwood was set.

Diane Southall

Diane Southall grew up in Connecticut, taught special education upon graduation, and moved to Virginia Beach in 1981. When she and Stephen met, she did not know much about Lynchburg or an English Boxwood. It was not long before she and Stephen integrated their lives and she became very familiar with both Lynchburg and boxwood and an integral part of English Boxwoods of Virginia. She and Stephen married in the Spring of 2014. Although Stephen has not been able to get her into the fields to plant or dig boxwood, her talents in the areas of customer relations and office management are much more important and appreciated by him.

Diane Southall

Following his graduation from The University of Richmond, he earned his Ph.D. in Psychology at the University of Virginia. In 1974 he accepted a position at Lynchburg College.

Dr. Stephen Southall

After several years of teaching, Stephen realized that he totally enjoyed the professorial role with accompanying coat and tie attire during the academic year but he also needed to keep in touch with his farming roots of working with the soil and wearing his work clothes and boots during the summer months and extended holidays. He wanted to pursue an avocation which would be productive and enjoyable and related to his early upbringing on Chick Cove (and as an aside he also wanted an “excuse” to be able to get a tractor or two!!)

Stephen Southall teaching at the University of Lynchburg

Following the suggestion of a friend, he and his neighbor, Ken Shumaker tried their hand at growing English boxwood by planting a few cuttings in the sandbox of Stephen’s 6-year-old daughter Sarah. And so, it all began! 

Dr. Stephen Southall inspecting a boxwood

Always one to integrate various dimensions of their interests, Stephen and Ken began English Boxwoods of Virginia in 1984. The company grew from that point to be one of the largest producers of English Boxwood on the east coast

Dr. Stephen Southall inspecting boxwood.

English Boxwoods of Virginia

Our parents taught us not to put all of our eggs in one basket, and Stephen and Ken extended that philosophy to growing English Boxwood. The rooting process, many years rooting 30,000 cuttings, and the growing of smaller plants up to approximately a foot was carried out in Lynchburg. All of these plants were grown in pots. Some of those were then transplanted to Stephen’s home place in Hartfield, VA where they were planted in the fields where they grow to much larger specimen plants.

After almost 30 years together in a great partnership, Ken and his wife moved their home to Charlotte County in 2013 and away from the operation of the business.

In 2016 having taught at Lynchburg College for 42 years, Stephen retired as Professor Emeritus. At that point, he and Diane began the transition of moving not only their home but the business to his home place in Hartfield, VA with the best view ever of the Piankatank River. That move was totally completed in the Fall of 2022 when they moved into their newly constructed home.

In looking back now, it is very interesting to note the important intersection of academia and farming. Academia taught the discipline of experimentation and the control of variables. The history of growing up on Chick Cove and farming throughout the high school years taught the basics skills of operation and maintenance of equipment. It is very important to note that after many years of both teaching and raising boxwood I have relayed the following story many times to various groups of my students at the College. If for some odd reason I had to make a choice between giving up my Ph.D. or my farm upbringing, I would choose to give up my degree because I learned so much on the farm that was so important and beneficial in all areas of my life. There is nothing like growing up on a farm.

English Boxwoods in a row


Stephen is very comfortable working in both an academic environment as well as in planting and maintaining boxwood at his home in Hartfield. In keeping with the previous honor of serving as President of The American Boxwood Society, he has expanded the role of English Boxwoods of Virginia from solely a grower of boxwood to the areas of consultations and speaking engagements. Foremost and always a teacher at heart, Dr. Southall has spoken and carried out hands-on seminars and consultations in various locations mentioned in the Speaking Engagement section below. His consultation services have taken him to some very beautiful homes, estates, and colleges in various parts of Virginia, Maryland, the District of Columbia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia.

Whether your needs are as a homeowner seeking a source of quality boxwood, a landscape designer seeking a professional consultation on boxwood, or a garden club seeking an energetic and knowledgeable speaker who is able to discuss all dimensions of raising and maintaining boxwood, Dr. Stephen Southall provides the full spectrum of boxwood services.

Many small English Boxwoods

Stephen’s personalized approach within English Boxwoods of Virginia includes selecting the very best boxwood to meet your landscaping needs, filling orders in a timely fashion, and giving expertise advice both before and after the sale on their planting and care.