The Kew Guild AGM 2018

Hello Fellow Kewites,

Here we are at the end (??) of a long hot summer and I hope you and your plants have survived the heat. My garden is a desert but, knowing how resilient plants are, there will be a revival!

This year has been an exceptional one for the Guild with all the changes to the Charity Commission causing the transfer of bank accounts and assets to our new Incorporated Charity status. I now have many more grey hairs and have learned to be patient, not one of my better qualities! However, more of that when you receive the AGM Notices which, I am sorry to say, will contain plenty for you to read and inwardly digest!

I have planned the AGM at Wakehurst this year in order to give everyone the opportunity to see the changes there and to anticipate the future for these wonderful Gardens, so different from Kew itself. David Hardman has contributed an information package, see below.

Members and Guests will be given free access and free parking to Wakehurst on the day, Saturday, September 8th and I hope that many of you will make the effort to attend as we will be celebrating, not only the NEW LOOK GUILD but a celebration of one of our most loved members, Leo Pemberton, who reaches the grand age of 90 years in October. Leo is keen to meet up with as many of his ‘old’ students as possible so… if that is YOU… then please come along. There will be a Cream Tea and birthday celebration after the AGM (at approximately 4.30 p.m.)

Prior to the AGM there will be a guided tour of the Gardens leaving you time to wander by yourself of partake of the lunch menu in the Stable Restaurant. I have organised a visit to Arundel Castle for the Sunday, further details later.

Let us all welcome Peter Styles as your new President for 2018/19.

Best wishes, Jean Griffin


Having heard we will be celebrating Leo Pemberton’s 90th birthday at the AGM at Wakehurst I felt tinges of nostalgia for several reasons. My first visit to Wakehurst was in 1975 when I was taken there by coach as part of the regular programme of student study visits organised by Leo. I still retain fond memories of that day and now appreciate the subtle reasons for Leo’s inspirational management of the Kew Diploma course. The garden was still in its early developmental stages after Kew had taken a 99-year lease in 1965 from the National Trust to manage the estate, Tony Schilling was Deputy Curator then and was organising the development of this new botanic garden.  Little did I know that twenty years later I would take on that same role!  I hope many members will want to attend this event and, just to whet the appetite, I thought anyone who has not been to Wakehurst might appreciate some details.

What we see today is the results of continual planned development at Wakehurst that has enabled a private garden with few visitors to retain this character whilst accommodating changes to become a major international botanic garden with several hundred thousand visitors a year.  This garden on the High Weald of West Sussex has over 500 acres of beautiful ornamental gardens, woodlands and a nature reserve.

A major change factor was the Great Storm of October 1987, Wakehurst lost about 20,000 trees, and whilst it was a great loss it afforded the opportunity to create a series of tree collections which are more scientifically important, more attractive to visitors and more relevant to Kew’s emphasis on conservation and education.  Trees are grouped according to the areas of the world in which they grow naturally – a phytogeographic planting system. So you really can take a walk through the temperate woodlands of the world.  More details about the woodland areas of Westwood Valley; Bloomers Valley; the Pinetum; Horsebridge Wood; Rock Walk; Coates Wood and Bethlehem Wood can be found at

The historic Elizabethan Mansion in which we will celebrate Leo’s birthday tea and meet for the AGM is nestled between formal and informal borders, a sweeping lawn, a pond and a walled garden, details can be found at

Surrounding these areas are larger displays areas:- the Tony Schilling Asian Heath Garden; the Water Gardens; the Southern Hemisphere Garden; the Winter Garden and the Himalayan Glade.  One of the most intriguing sites promoting recycling is Compost Corner especially when the “big boys toys” are in operation.  check out

Other conservation foci at Wakehurst include the Millennium Seed Bank (MSB) and the Loder Valley Nature Reserve (LVR):-   The MSB is the largest wild seed conservation project in the world and is a hub for scientific activity where visitors can discover more about its vital mission to conserve 25% of the world’s plant species by 2020.  The surrounding landscape with meadow plantings was newly created to enable this iconic building to nestle seamlessly into the existing landscape.  More details are found on

The development of the 40 acre LVR brings something really different from any other garden where wildlife abounds in this haven of peace and tranquillity.  It is possible to take a close look at over 300 plant species as well as dormice, badgers, kingfishers.  It consists of a matrix of habitats including wetlands, meadows and Wealden woodland.  Bird hides allow viewing of a wealth of species including herons, ospreys, hobbies and little egrets.

I am looking forward to visiting Wakehurst again and hope to meet many members who I am sure will want to celebrate this milestone in Leo’s life.

Best wishes, David Hardman.

If you would like to come along, please would you let me (Sara – know in the first instance so we are able to gauge numbers. An official booking form will accompany the AGM Notices.

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