Kew Guild

Annual Dinner 2019

Tony Overland, MC, at the Annual Dinner 2018

Dear Guild Member,

The Kew Guild President, Peter Styles, and MC, Tony Overland (above) request the pleasure of your company at the Kew Guild Annual Dinner. 

The Dinner to be held at Cambridge Cottage, 37 Kew Green, TW9 3AB on Wednesday 22nd May 2019.

This annual event provides the perfect opportunity to renew old friendships, make new friends, catch up on news, and meet the current Kew Diploma students and Guild Committee members. Our guest speaker is yet to be confirmed, so keep an eye on the web site for updates.

In addition to this special occasion all day free admission to Kew Gardens has been agreed for all applicants. The President with the assistance of Tony Overland has arranged a menu with an excellent selection for you to choose when applying for your tickets. There will be a cash bar to purchase drinks throughout the event. The current students will organise a cash raffle / auction to help support student travels. There will be no reserved seating.

Any member requiring financial assistance to facilitate attendance at the Dinner should contact Awards Scheme Chairman, Chris Kidd in confidence by email – by Thursday 31st March.

We look forward to meeting you all at what will be an excellent occasion for the Guild. Please complete the attached application form to reserve your place[s]. To avoid disappointment please return your application form as soon as possible, the 2018 event was oversubscribed and a number of applications had to be turned down.

Yours sincerely,


Peter Styles, President 2018-19

To download the Annual Dinner form and menu choices, please click Annual Dinner 2019 form and menu Final

To join the Kew Guild, see our web site:

The Friends of Kew

THE FRIENDS OF KEW (by Allan Hart)

It had always been a bone of contention that all ex. students and gardening staff had to pay the full amount of the entrance fee – no concessions allowed. During my Presidential Year in 2012 I was able to negotiate with the (then) Director – Peter Crane – for a substantial reduction in the annual subscription.

The rate for 2017 is £35.00, which is approximately 30% of the full amount.

This is for two people and includes all privileges. All you need to do is obtain the application form and write on it ‘KEW GUILD MEMBER’. This information used to be sent out with the Members Certificates, which are no longer issued by the Guild.

Rockcliffe and Highgrove, 11th and 12th April 2019

Highgrove House, Nr. Tetbury

Please join us/register your interest for our visit on Thurs 11 April and Friday 12 April 2019 This event is organised by Martin Staniforth and Peter Styles.

After considerable discussions with the Royal Household we are pleased to announce that we have been given special access to TRHs gardens at Highgrove in Gloucestershire. These discussions have unfortunately resulted in a rather late announcement of this event, but we hope that members will understand the difficulties. This is a rare opportunity for members to be shown around the gardens by the Head Gardener Debs Goodenough MVO, who has kindly agreed to give her time in what will be a very busy time for the gardens with their planned special week long ‘Talking Gardens’ events. In addition we have also arranged a visit to Rockcliffe Gardens, a wonderful private garden in Upper Slaughter.

Outline Programme:


14.00 Meet at Rockcliffe Gardens, Upper Slaughter

Rockcliffe Gardens, Upper Slaughter

Rockcliffe Gardens, Upper Slaughter

Rockcliffe Gardens has been developed by Emma Keswick over the last 30 years, it is an 8 acre private garden in Upper Slaughter in the heart of the Cotswolds rarely open to the public. Rose terraces, herbaceous border, rectangular pond with Cornus contraversa ‘Variegata’ stretching branches across it, lawn leading up to a ha-ha edged with huge pyramids of beech, yew hedged rooms, canals, walled kitchen garden, greenhouses, and above the kitchen garden a path flanked by yew birds leading up to the orchard (image) to a stone dovecot built 2001. Beyond the dovecot is an arboretum underplanted with Tenby daffodils, pheasant eye narcissi, star of Bethlehem and autumn colchicum.

Kew Graduate Thomas Unterdorfer was the head gardener until last year when he moved to Juniper Artland. Amy Newsome current diploma student in course 56 trained at Rockcliffe and speaks highly of the garden.

Admission Charges

As this a private garden and entrance is free, we have agreed a garden donation fee of £6.50 per person.

Directions: At the main traffic lights in Stow take the B4068 signposted Naunton and Lower Swell. Go through Lower Swell on the B4068 and continue on this road for 1 mile until you see a converted barn on the left-hand side of the road. Continue on round a bend and the entrance to Rockcliffe Garden is half-way down the beech covered hill on the right. The entrance is a break in the bank  with a cattle grid. Address Rockcliffe, Upper Slaughter, Cheltenham, Glos., GL54 2JW

There is parking at the gardens.


We are proposing to have an optional members dinner at a suitable pub/restaurant in the vicinity. Details to be announce but we would anticipate meeting up at 19.00.

Overnight Accommodation

There are a number of hotels and B&Bs in the area. Members will need to make their own arrangements regarding accommodation.


09.15 Meet at Highgrove, Nr Tetbury

Highgrove House, Nr. Tetbury

Highgrove House, Nr. Tetbury

09.30 Meet Debs Goodenough, the head gardener, who will take us around the gardens.

Created with imagination and passion by the Prince over the last 38 years, the series of interlinked organic gardens reflect his deep commitment to sustainability, as well as a natural artistic ability. As an important haven for a rich variety of flora and fauna, the gardens have been developed to not only please the eye but sit in succinct harmony with nature.

We can experience the gardens’ seasonal highlights in April and discover how the Prince has transformed a landscape which was once merely lawn into an ever-changing canvas of magnificent garden scenes.

From the classic order of the Cottage Garden to the pastoral beauty of the Wildflower Meadow, these unique spaces, along with hidden curios and horticultural innovations, offers a personal perspective  of the Prince.

11.30 pm. Formal tour concludes. As the café facilities are fully booked for that day, we will need to make our own lunch arrangements after the event.

Admission charges

Admission charges are normally £27.50 per person but Charlie Craven, the Royal Household estate administrator has kindly agreed to waiver charges for Kew members. We are proposing a donation of

£6.50 for each member to be donated to HRH charities.

Parking at Highgrove

Because of the busy programme of events at Highgrove that week car parking is restricted. We therefore need to consider car sharing from a predetermined carpark outside of the gardens to reduce the number of cars arriving at Highgrove. Details to be announced.


For Sat Nav, please use postcode GL8 8TQ, which will take you to the concealed entrance for The Royal Gardens at Highgrove. Do not go into Street Farm Workshops. Instead keep left on the narrow walled lane and stop after 100 metres at the police checkpoint for identification and vehicle checks. Please have your identity documents and tickets to hand at this stage.

From the South take the A433 towards Tetbury, passing the Westonbirt Arboretum and “Hare and Hounds” Hotel on the left. On nearing Doughton, pass a “concealed entrance” sign on the left-hand side. Immediately after the 30 mph speed restriction sign take the next small entrance on the left.


Full details of the payments required will be announced as soon as we have agreed the dinner arrangements on the Thursday 11 April.

Costs for garden entries will be: Rockcliffe Gardens £6.50 each Highgrove £6.50 each

All payments will be required prior to the visits and payment details will be confirmed.


Please register by email to Peter Styles and copy in Brian Phillips with your name, guests and confirmation of gardens visits or gardens and dinner.

There is a maximum limit of 25 and we anticipate a good response from members. This event will be a ‘first come first serve’.

REPLY TO: Peter Styles. tel. 07971 216896 or 0333 456 1132 Copy to Brian Phillips tel. 01342 824154.

Click on the link below for a printable pdf version of this programme:
Highgrove and Rockcliffe event outline programme

Down House, Ashdown Forest and Wakehurst Place Seed Bank

Millennium Seed Bank, Wakehurst Place

Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th July 2019.
This Event is being organised by Brian and Sylvia Phillips.

Outline programme:

Saturday 6th July

  • Down House, Kent (Darwin’s home)
    • 10:00 Garden tour
    • 11:00 House visit with audio guide
    • Lunch in on site cafe.
    • 13:30 Leave Down House
  • Ashdown Forest (45 minute drive)
    • 14:30 Ashdown Forest Centre – Talk on history and conservation on Forest

7th   February 2019

  • 16:00 Short walk on Forest to see Winnie-the-Pooh sites from A.A. Milne’s books
  • Evening meal at local Pub (to be arranged) Sunday 7th July
  • Seed bank, Wakehurst Place
    • 10:30 Talk on history and goals of Seed bank
    • 11:30 Behind the scenes tour of seed bank by staff member
    • 12:30 Lunch or picnic in gardens
Overview of visits
Down House

With its unique place in the history of science and evolution, Down House  was the family home of Charles Darwin. See the study where Darwin wrote ‘On the Origin of Species’, stroll through the gardens that inspired him. The visit will start with a tour of the garden to see places that inspired Darwin   and   amplified   his   ideas.   Then wander through the house with the interactive multimedia commentary by Sir David Attenborough.

Ashdown Forest

The Forest is an ancient area of tranquil open heathland occupying the highest sandy ridge-top of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. There are expansive vistas across the wooded hills of the Weald to the chalk escarpments of the North Downs and South Downs on the horizon. Ashdown Forest is famous as the setting for the Winnie-the-Pooh stories written by A.A. Milne. The visit will start with a talk from a member of the team on the history and conservation work on the forest. We will then drive to a car park on the forest for a short walk to see the landscape and visit some of the places made famous in A.A Milne’s books about Winnie-the-Pooh.

Seed bank, Wakehurst Place

By storing the world’s seeds, the Millennium Seed Bank (MSB) aims to provide an insurance policy against

the extinction of plants in the wild. The visit will start with a talk from a member of staff on the history and work of the Seed Bank followed by a behind the scenes tour of the storage vaults and laboratories

Financial arrangements
(at present the numbers given as a guide only)

Payments will depend on whether Kew Guild members are also members of “English Heritage” and/or “National Trust”

Saturday 6th July

  1. Down House
    Garden Tour £4.00
    Entry English Heritage member Free
    Entry non-member £10.00
  2. Ashdown Forest
    Contribution to Forest Conservation charity £5.00
  3. Pub evening meal at location to be arranged (Optional)

Sunday 7th July

  1. Seed Bank, Wakehurst Place
    Car park Being negotiated
    Wakehurst Place National Trust members Free
    Wakehurst Place non-members Being negotiated
    Contribution to Seed bank project £5.00

Overnight accommodation options:

It is recommended that members stay to the north or east of the area of Ashdown Forest / Wakehurst Place.

There are a number of smaller hotels and B&Bs in the area plus some of the chains : Crowne Plaza, Travelodge, Premier Inn, Marriott.

PRICES – at present the above prices are a guide as we are waiting, in some cases for 2019 numbers, or on offers that might be available.

There is an absolute maximum limit of 20, so early registration is recommended.

Please register by email (see below) to Brian Phillips with the following information:

  • Your name
  • Accompanied by: name
  • Whether a member of “English Heritage” and / or “National Trust”
  • Do not send any money at present. It is anticipated that separate payment requests to those registered, depending on each response to memberships of “English Heritage and/or “National Trust”, will be sent around mid-April.

Members will be registered in strict time and date order from receiving an email. Closing date: 1st June 2019.

Refund policy: full refund available for cancellations up to 1st June 2019.

Reply to:  Brian Phillips  E-mail: Tel: 01342 824154

Down House, Kent

Down House, Kent

Gardens in South Hertfordshire

Capel Manor College Gardens

Saturday 8th – Sunday 9th June 2019

This tour is being organised by Bob Ivison with the help of our events co-ordinator, Brian Phillips.

Outline programme

Saturday 8th June

10:00 Capel Manor College gardens
12:30 Lunch at Capel Manor College refectory
14:00 Myddelton House gardens with head gardener
19:00 The Pied Bull, Bulls Cross, Enfield

Sunday 9th June

10:00 Hatfield House Gardens with head gardener
12:30 Lunch at gardens cafe
14:00 Optional tour of House in own time

Overview of visits

Capel Manor College gardens

The beautiful 30 acre estate, first established in the late 13th century, provides a colourful and scented oasis  surrounding  a  Georgian  manor  house  and Victorian stables. See web site for more details:

Myddelton House Gardens

Delve  into  the  beautiful  eight  acres  of  Myddelton House Gardens and discover the compelling story of Edward  Augustus  Bowles,  one  of  Britain’s  most famous  self-taught  gardeners,  artist  and  expert botanist. See web site for more details:

Hatfield House Gardens

A Jacobean House built in 1611 by Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury, home now of the 7th Marquess and Marchioness of Salisbury. The Elizabethan park was designed by Thomas Chaundler, Salomon de Caus and John Tradescant. See web site for more details:

The Pied Bull, Bulls Cross, Enfield Join   the  group  for  a  relaxing  evening, varied menu including 2 or 3 course fixed menu or à la carte.

Financial arrangements

All payments to be made with reservation.

Saturday 8th June

Capel Manor College Gardens
Free car parking
Admission and tour guide £8.00

Capel Manor College refectory
Snack Lunches available

Myddelton House Gardens
Car park £2.50
Adult: Free, but donation welcome

The Pied Bull, Bulls Cross, Enfield  (Optional)

Sunday 9th June

Hatfield House Gardens
Free car parking
Free Gardens entry
Optional visit to house £8.00 (pay on entry, show garden entry ticket)

Capel Manor College gardens
Ample free parking on site
10:00:  Meet at Capel Manor College
Admission £8.00 to include entry + guided tour
Cafe on site for coffee/tea before we start, (own arrangements)
10:30: A tour guide from the college will give a brief introduction to the gardens and campus before we commence the garden tour.
12:30 Lunch in Capel Manor College refectory (own arrangements)
13:45 Leave Capel Manor College for Myddelton House Gardens (0.6 mile)

Myddelton House Gardens
Car parking £2.50
14:00:  Meet at Myddelton House
Garden entry and tour are free, but a donation would be appreciated for the continued restoration of the gardens – please give generously. Head Gardener, James Hall, a past Kew trainee, will talk about the garden’s history and restoration followed by a guided tour of the gardens.
There is a small cafe on site that provides light snacks, teas and coffees.
16:30. Myddelton House museum and cafe closes
17:00 Gardens close

19:00 The Pied Bull, Bulls Cross, Enfield (optional). Meet for dinner together. For menus, see the Pied Bull web site: 

Hatfield House Gardens
Free car parking
10:00: Re-convene at Hatfield House
Gardens entrance and tour are free. Head Gardener, Andrew Turvey, will give an introduction with the history of the Gardens. The tour will consist of both the West Garden and parts of the private East Garden. He will highlight the beauty of Hatfield Gardens whilst also explaining the developments and changes they are undertaking.
12:00. Formal tour concludes.
A cafe on site provides meals and refreshments.

Main House visit option
Open to visitors and members may wish to take a tour of this magnificent building at their leisure. Cost for entry to the House : £8.00 (not included in price below).

Overnight accommodation options:

There are a number of hotels and B&Bs in the area. Using as an example with the postcode of EN2 9HE, The Pied Bull.

There are many B&Bs plus the well known brands: Ramada, Marriott, Premier Inn, Travelodge, Holiday Inn, Mercure etc with prices in the £60 to £120 region.

PRICE (all three garden visits & tours) : £11.00 / person DINNER DEPOSIT (deducted from bill): £4.00 / person.

There is a maximum limit of 25, so early registration is recommended.

Please register by email (see below) to Brian Phillips with the following information:

Your name

Accompanied by name

Confirm that payment made to the Kew Account

Confirm : garden visits only          or            gardens and evening meal

Transfer to the Kew Guild account the sum of £11.00 / person (gardens only) or £15.00 gardens and with evening meal. (note: new account)

Sort code: 20-88-13
Account: 73256154
Enter Reference : Herts + “surname”

Closing date: 1st May 2019

Refund policy: full refund available for cancellations up to 1st May 2019

Reply to:  Brian Phillips   E-mail: Tel: 01342 824154


Kewite-MAIL, December 2018

Dear Kewites and Friends,

It hardly seems like twelve months since past President Jean Griffins’ Christmas Newsletter. My Presidential year started with new challenges and opportunities. The Trustees have met twice since the AGM and I am happy to report that the final pieces of the very complicated CIO changeover are now almost in place. We have retained the services of our Charity Lawyer to see us through this last few stages and the transfer of assets to the new Guild Charity is well underway. I will continue to keep you updated on progress, but we are all looking forward to the new arrangements which will see real benefits for the Guild and its members.

One of the benefits will be the opening up of the membership to anyone who has an interest in furthering the purposes of the Guild. This may be an individual, a corporate body, or an organization which is not incorporated. Each new application will be carefully considered to ensure that the Guilds purposes are upheld. You will note that the membership description has been amended in the website to reflect the new status. We have a new application form which can be obtained from Jean Griffin at I am pleased to report that the membership fees remain fixed for 2019.

To assist Jean and the Secretary, it is important the we have your updated correspondence address. This should include your email address as this is our main communication route for announcements and events news. Please send to We now have a Privacy Policy in place to comply with current legislation which is now on the web site at There is a link on the home page.

In December we hosted a supper in Kew for the First Year Diploma students. This year has seen a cohort of international students and we look forward to them as active members of the Guild. Jean Griffin is providing invaluable support for the students at the Kew Mutual Society events.

We have some exciting new initiates for the coming year which I hope you will be able to support. More later. The events planned for 2019 will commence with a visit to the famous Snowdrop Gardens at Colesbourne Park.


16 February. Colesbourne Park. Snowdrop time. This event is now fully booked.

12 April. Highgrove. A planned visit to HRH famous garden in Gloucestershire. We are currently negotiating with the Royal Household and full details will be sent in the New Year.

22 May. Annual Dinner at Kew. Invitations to be sent in the New Year.

8/9 June. South Hertfordshire Gardens. More details to follow.

6/7 July. Downe House, Kent. Proposed visit to Darwin’s house together with Sussex gardens. More details to follow.

7 September. An event in conjunction with the AGM at Kew. Watch this space.

We will continue to provide full details well in advance of the event date so that you can take the opportunity to book early and avoid disappointment. For those members who have not yet participated in the events I would urge you to book   one as they are enriching, entertaining and educational and a good opportunity to meet up with old friends and colleagues.

We welcome our new archivist Janette Ames. Astrid Purton has moved to France and was unable to continue but Janette has stepped in to take her place and we are very much look forward to working with her.

Work continues with the upgrading and improving of the website and members articles can be sent to the Secretary for consideration – .

Kew Guild Journal

The editor of the Journal, Sparkle Ward, has given a deadline for Events of 2018 Journal copy as 31st January 2019. please send any contributions to We are also keen to receive comments and ideas from the membership which can be sent in the first instance to the Secretary

Please also email any ‘News of Kewites’ and any photos to Pamela Holt at

Finally, I would like to thank all the Trustees and Advisors for giving me their continued support.

I wish you all every happiness and prosperity for Christmas and the New Year particularly to our oversees friends.

Best wishes, Peter Styles. Floreat Kew

The 2018-19 President of the Kew Guild, Peter Styles

President 2018-19 Peter Styles at the 2018 AGM, Wakehurst Place. 

Notice of The Kew Guild AGMs 2018

Dear Kewites and Friends,

I have pleasure in including the notice for the Kew Guild 2018 AGM to be held on Saturday 8th September 2018 at 2:00pm in the Mansion, Wakehurst Place, Ardingly, Haywards Heath, West Sussex, RH17 6TN.

Transfer to new CIO

As reported at the last AGM the new CIO Kew Guild charity was registered with the Charity Commission in July 2017, to be the Kew Guild’s successor charity. As outlined previously both sets of Trustees have been working hard on progressing the transfer of the assets and operations from the “old” Guild charity to the new CIO charity. As part of this process, all current members of the “old” Guild charity will automatically become members of the new CIO charity and cease to be members of the “old” charity.

Members should also note that for this year only, as part of the transitional arrangements, we will be holding two AGMs, a short one for the “old” Guild charity, immediately followed by the usual one for the new CIO charity (which will have taken over all the charity’s operations by then). All members are invited to both and we look forward to seeing you there.

I am currently working on the Notice and Agenda for the Kew Guild CIO, which will be uploaded as soon as it is ready.

Old Charity Notice and Agenda of AGM 2018 with attachments

Kew Guild CIO Notice of AGM and Constitution documents

Yours sincerely,

Sara Arnold,

Consultant Secretary.

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.

Annual Dinner 2018


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Wednesday 18th May was a lovely warm summer day, enabling many Kew Guild members to enjoy the special arrangement of visiting the gardens where the recently restored Temperate House could be viewed in all its glory before the annual dinner. Held in Cambridge Cottage, Sparkle Ward and Pamela Holt welcomed attendees with name badges and their Kew Guild Journal as they made their way to the bar or the Dukes Garden to socialise.

Tony Overland, Master of Ceremonies, gathered everyone indoors before calling for all guests to be upstanding as our President Jean Griffin and her daughter were escorted to their table in a packed dining room of members and guests. (The event was actually oversubscribed and several potential diners were disappointed).

A splendid meal was enjoyed whilst Kew students circulated amongst the tables selling raffle tickets to raise funds for their annual study trip to Spain.

Tony Overland explained how long he had known Jean Griffin having both met as students at Kew. She was born in Neath, South Wales and inspired by her grandfather to take up horticulture went on to study at Studley College. More recently Jean has been active with judging the London and South East Britain in Bloom and regularly broadcasts on Radio Sussex, Kent and Surrey. She assured us that the questions on these radio phone-ins are not known in advance. So to illustrate the point and introduce humour thus dispelling the old boy image of annual dinners, Jean and Tony re-enacted a typical scenario which had the audience in stitches.

Tom Hart Dyke, guest speaker explained how he was inspired to work with plants at the age of three years through the gift of seeds and a trowel from his grandmother. Later it was Joyce Stewart`s articles and working under Sandra Bell at Kew that Tom developed his love of orchids. At 21 years of age he won grants enabling him to travel to S.E. Asia where he saw orchids in the wild and later spent time in Australia and Tasmania collecting plants. However it was the year 2000 when he met up with Paul Winder in Mexico and travelled over 17,000 miles through the Darien Gap to Columbia with a guide, which proved the most riveting part of his talk.  He captivated his listeners with vivid descriptions of being kidnapped by young gun-toting guerrillas in the cloud forest who held him and Paul in captivity for nine months. As Tom continued to collect orchids, his captors realised he was not a drug runner, a political activist or working for the CIA and suddenly released the pair returning all their valuables! Once safely back at his family home Lullingstone Castle in Kent, Tom created the World Garden of Plants within the two-acre walled garden as he had envisaged whilst in captivity.

Jean Griffin then presented the Kew Medal to Martin Duncan, Head Gardener at Arundel Castle owned by the Duke and Duchess of Norfolk who attended the dinner in support of Martin. From horticultural training in Ireland, National Parks work, farming, coffee plantation and advisory work in Africa to Jordan working for King Hussein, titled people in Bermuda and landscape designing in the UK; Martin now manages the ornamental and organic vegetable garden at Arundel. He is a firm believer in developing and making history, not keeping to strict historical layout or features as his work at the castle testifies.

Honorary Fellowship was awarded to Professor Nigel Dunnett and Professor James Hitchmough from Sheffield University who were both responsible for the landscaping of the Olympic park in London.

The President concluded the evening by thanking Tony Overland for masterminding another successful dinner with a bottle of gin; thanking all Trustees for their support and dispensed orchids to guests wives. A grand total of £405 was raised from the student raffle.

Pamela Holt

All photos copyright Stewart Henchie, except where stated.


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Have a look through the photos; more will be uploaded as time permits. 


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Kewite-mail, June 2018

Hello to you all on muggy but bright day. The Guild has just celebrated a very successful Annual Dinner, this year we were over subscribed and reluctantly had to disappoint several potential diners!

Sparkle Ward and Pamela Holt hosted the ‘meet and greet’ table in Cambridge Cottage and did a great job in PR terms, all helped by the glorious weather and access to the Gardens for members and guests.

Tony Overland did a magnificent job of organising the event and left no stone unturned to make the evening the success it was. This year I introduced a spot or two of humour, we need to make events interesting for all members and get away, dare I say, from the ‘Old Boys Image’ which some members appear to have judging by comments sent on to me! Tom Hart Dyke was an inspirational and passionate speaker, and Martin Duncan, the recipient of the Kew Medal was equally passionate as he shared his lifelong interest in plants.

The Kew Guild Annual Dinner 2018, MC Tony Overland and President Jean Griffin

MC Tony Overland and President Jean Griffin

Our Two Honorary Fellows, Professors Dunnett and Hitchmough from Sheffield University were pleased with their awards and we look forward to them joining as Guild members and seeing them at events during the years ahead.

Now it is on to the next Committee Meeting in June where I will report that a new Bank Account has been set up for the new Charity after long discussions over the year. The months before the AGM at Wakehurst in September will be taken up with organising the rewriting of the Constitution, rules and regulations, call it what you will, and we must take a long hard look at the way in which  the Awards Committee will run with Chris Kidd, Allan Hart and myself making  suggested necessary changes in order to comply with the new Charity Rules in order to take to the AGM.

I am presently trying to fit in the organising of a visit programme in and around the Wakehurst AGM (on Saturday 8th September) where there a guided tour in the morning will be followed by a celebration after the meeting  of the 90th Birthday of Leo Pemberton. PLEASE  join us and celebrate this unique event with him.

I hope my ramblings find you all in good gardening spirits and urge you all to consider nominations for posts within the Guild, encourage lapsed members to re-join and  be part of our great Guild family as we welcome new and exciting ideas taking us into the next phase of the Incorporated Charity.

Happy Gardening, folks.




Scilly Isles visit, 19-23 April 2018

A group of 23 Kew Guild members, including our President Jean Griffin, were gathered in Cornwall on the morning of 19th April, keen to explore the remote Isles of Scilly. We were to fly there from Lands End airport, but an early morning phone call alerted us to a change of plan due to fog. Instead we were to make the three-hour voyage on the ship Scillonian III, leaving from Penzance dock. This was no problem for those of us who had spent the previous night in Penzance, but seven of our party were already at the airport. However, all was well in the end as the fog cleared by afternoon and they were able to fly out to join the main group. Some of us on the boat were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a group of dolphins swimming nearby.

We were based on the largest island, St Mary’s, staying in a converted 16th century castle (Star Castle Hotel) on Garrison headland above Hugh Town. The castle was founded in 1593 and was very atmospheric, with splendid views down to the bay and across to the other islands. Our President even had a room built into the surrounding old stone ramparts which she happily said felt like a gardener’s bothy! The food was exceptionally good, including much locally caught fish and seafood.

That afternoon most of us walked the 1½ miles through the lanes to the small Holy Vale vineyard set up by the hotel owner, Robert Francis. This is clearly run as a hobby, as they have not had a good grape harvest since 2014, but the wines are served in the hotel and we had a wine tasting at the vineyard, enjoying the sunshine and tranquil setting. Strolling back by a different route we went through the Carreg Dhu gardens, a shady oasis of fine old trees. One large silver-leaved tree had us all puzzled, so we took a few leaves to ask about it at Tresco Abbey Garden. On arriving back at the hotel there was time to relax and go for a swim in the hotel pool built inside a glasshouse, which ensured nice warm water.

Kew Guild Scilly Isles Visit 2018, members enjoying a rest!

Enjoying a rest! L-R: President Jean Griffin, Bill Bessler, Jim Mitchell and Tony Overland

The plan was that we should spend each of the remaining three days on a different island, with both an organised visit and time for members to explore on their own. Luckily we were blessed with fine weather for the whole of the trip, as this plan could easily have been ruined by stormy weather preventing the boats going out. We had our own boat reserved for each day, but all were small and open without any roof protection.

Day 2 was our day on Tresco island, home to the famous Abbey Garden, renowned for its tender plantings which can survive outside nowhere else in the British Isles. The Gulf Stream and abundance of sunshine mean that many plants from Mediterranean and other warm temperate parts of the world can be cultivated in its 17 acres of terraced garden. We immediately saw a number of examples of the silver-leaved tree which had puzzled us the day before. It turned out to be Leucadendron argenteum (Proteaceae) from South Africa. We were met by Mike Nelhams, the Curator, who kindly gave us a garden tour. Almost straight away we saw imported red squirrels, the greys not having reached the Scillies. The garden has many large palms, bamboos, tree ferns, Echiums, King Proteas, Cape Ericas and cacti. Particularly noteworthy were the species of Aeonium, with their large flat leaf rosettes, often growing in abundance on the old stone walls.

Red Squirrel at Abbey Garden, Tresco Island Copyright Jean Griffin

Red Squirrel at Abbey Garden, Tresco Island

After lunch in the garden café members were free to spend the afternoon as they wished. Tucked away in a corner of the Abbey Garden is a fascinating collection of ships figureheads in the Valhalla Museum. These came from old shipwrecks and some were representations of real people. The path running along the east side of the island has views over the many rocks and islets towards St Martin’s, and down to fine sandy beaches, deserted at this time of year. The path goes to the little hamlet of Old Grimsby, where a welcome ice cream is to be had. From there the north part of Tresco is covered in heather and gorse moorland, with the remains of old fortifications from the Civil War. Our return to St Mary’s was from a different quay at a quite different part of the island, necessary because of the difference between high and low tide levels.

Day 3 was our day on St Martin’s island, lying to the northeast of Tresco. Once again we landed in the morning at a different quay from where we would be departing at the end of the afternoon. We were met by Zoe Julian, who with her husband runs Scilly Flowers at Churchtown Farm, a business growing scented flowers in which orders are sent out in gift boxes by post. Most of our group set out to walk the ½ mile up to her farm, with those who would find the walk difficult travelling with Zoe in her vehicle. The morning was spent on a tour of the farm, comprising a number of small fields protected by tall hedges of Pittosporum and Euonymus. Their main crop is scented Narcissus, most of which had already been harvested, but they have recently started growing scented pinks as a summer crop, buying in plugs from a source on mainland Cornwall. The bulbs are grown on a 5-year cycle, being dug up at the end of 5 years and the field put down to grass for 3 years to recover, when it is grazed by cattle. We were taken into the machinery sheds and shown the packing process. We were impressed by the way they have built up their niche market of scented floral gifts by post, and especially by the enthusiasm and energy of Zoe herself.

Lunch was taken at Little Arthur’s Café, involving a walk down a steep grassy slope and up again to the café. This was little more than a hut with a view, but produced a surprising variety of delicious cooked and presented food. As before, the afternoon was free for members to enjoy as they wished. Some of us walked up to a prominent red and white striped daymark (for shipping) on the eastern headland, and then followed the coastal path looking down on white sand beaches and across heather moorland. There was just the sound of seabirds and the waves on the shore on this beautiful island.

Day 4 was our last full day, and we visited the smallest of the inhabited islands, St Agnes in the southwest of the group. The boat trip over seemed quite rough in the small boat, which rocked from side to side in the waves. Members had about two hours on this small island before lunch in the pub just above the quay. The little paved lane leads past stone cottages to the church, surrounded by its graveyard in sight of the sea. This has fine stained glass windows depicting local seamen in their boats. From the church a footpath leads up on to Wingletang Down, a heathland area with amazing rock formations, granite boulders piled up in weird configurations. The views westward extend over the uninhabited island of Annet and out into the Atlantic. The numerous rocks and islets in the foreground are terminated by the lighthouse on Bishop Rock.

After lunch in the pub we returned to the quay for a two-hour wildlife boat trip round Annet and the western rocks. We were delighted to see Atlantic grey seals lying on the rocks, and many seabirds, including a few puffins although only fleetingly. Shags were plentiful, and we learned that a group of them sitting on the sea is called a “raft”. We had a good view of Manx shearwaters wheeling above the waves. These birds have been encouraged to return to St Agnes and have bred there since 2014 after an absence of many years.

As this was our last evening in the Star Castle hotel we all dined together, with our President raising a toast to the Guild which is now in its 125th year. The flights back to the mainland the following morning went according to plan, the small propeller aircraft flying low over the sea to Land’s End airport. We all felt incredibly lucky that the weather had held, enabling us to fully appreciate the peaceful atmosphere and special way of life of these beautiful islands at the extremity of England.

Jean Griffin.