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Christopher Brickell CBE VMH

2015 - Today
Christopher Brickell and David Hardman at the Kew Guild Annual Dinner, 2015

Through Christopher's initiatives and involvement in garden management, plant conservation, taxonomy and publication he has provided knowledge, interest and encouragement to a large audience, both professional and amateur to fully appreciate all types of plants and their care.

At the 2015 Annual Dinner the Kew Guild recognised Christopher Brickell for his outstanding contribution to international horticulture and botanical science awarding him the Kew Guild Medal.

In 1946 as a schoolboy Chris first visited Kew then whilst working in his school holidays he budded Nurseries. From school Chris went to Reading University to study horticulture after a year’s

experience at Carlisle’s herbaceous and rock garden plants nursery. In 1954 he gained his degree in Horticulture then 2 years National Service in Germany followed. In 1958 he applied for the post of Assistant to the Botanist at the Royal Horticultural Society garden, Wisley. Moving up the ranks as Botanist, Senior Scientific Officer; Deputy Director; and in 1969 he became Director of Wisley. In 1985 he was appointed by the RHS to the new post of Director General from which he retired in 1993.

Chris has led and taken part in a number of botanical expeditions to China with Chris Grey-Wilson and Jill Cowley, to Sikkim with Brian Mathew, Asia, Georgia, Central Turkey, Greece and Patagonia, and continues to maintain his involvement in nomenclature, taxonomy, and the stabilisation of plant names. Current research projects include the genera Anemone, Polygonatum and Daphne. When preparing accounts of Colchicum and Galanthus for ‘Flora Europaea’ and ‘Flora of Turkey’ he received much advice and help from Kew Herbarium staff particularly Bob Sealy and Desmond Meikle and others.

Amongst the many other positions held Chris was the President and Chairman of the Board of the International Society for Horticultural Science (ISHS) from 1998-2002, having been a Vice-Chairman of the Board responsible for Scientific Affairs from 1994 and was Chairman of the ISHS Commission for Nomenclature and Registration. He was also a UK Council Member 1972-1999, a member of ISHS and since 1968 he was elected a Fellow followed by Honorary Membership of the Society in 2002. He was Chairman of the International Union of Biological Sciences, (IUBS) Commission for the Nomenclature of Cultivated Plants since 1979, chairing the Editorial Committee of that Commission for the 1980, 1995 and 2004 editions of the ‘Cultivated Plant Code’.

A founder member of the Horticultural Taxonomy Group, (HORTAX) he also chaired the RHS Advisory Panel on Nomenclature and Taxonomy from 1994 to 2002 and is a member of a number of RHS Plant and Trials Committees as well as serving on the UK Plant Breeders’ Rights Controller’s Advisory Panel for herbaceous plants, (Plant Variety Rights Office). He is interested in the conservation of both wild and cultivated plants and in 1978 he initiated the formation of the National Council for the Conservation of Plants and Gardens (NCCPG now Plant Heritage) and the establishment of National Plant Collections. He is a past Trustee of RBG Kew and RBG Edinburgh and is President of the Alpine Garden Society. He has authored, published and edited many botanical and horticultural books, papers and articles, particularly on monocotyledonous genera and horticultural taxonomy and other horticultural topics. This involvement briefly includes; The RHS ‘Encyclopedia of Gardening’, ‘A-Z of Garden Plants’ and ‘Plants and Flowers’. Accounts of several genera in Flora Europaea and Flora of Turkey, ‘The Genus Daphne’ with Brian Mathew, ‘Pruning’ in the Mitchell Beazley series, ‘The Vanishing Garden’ with Fay Sharman and for several years monthly articles in the RHS Journal. Until 2005 he was consultant Editor of The Plantsman.