Kew Guild

The Kew Guild Medal

David F. CutlerDavid F. Cutler

It is hard to believe it is 15 years since I first suggested to the Kew Guild Committee that we should consider having a medal struck to recognise people of outstanding merit in topics close to the interests of the Guild. The Committee set up a small working group to develop the idea. On the basis of their report it was agreed to go ahead because the initiative was seen to ‘raise the profile of the Guild, to recognise personal achievements and spend the money of the Guild in a wise and constructive manner.’

The initial criteria devised by the working group have been revised since they were first set out, and the most recent revision, in 2018, states them as follows:

“The Medal is awarded for outstanding merit in the furtherance of one or more fields of interest of members of the Kew Guild. For example: Scientific or amenity horticulture, Plant systematic research, Plant or habitat conservation and Horticultural Education. Other relevant fields of interest can be considered. The recipient need not be a member of the Guild.”

It was agreed that the Medal should be presented at the Annual Dinner or the Annual General Meeting unless the recipient or their representative is unable to attend, when other arrangements can be made. It was also agreed that normally the Medal should be awarded every two or three years, and exceptionally on consecutive years. However, as you can read below, there was no shortage of suitable candidates and after 2014 a medal has been awarded in each of the following years. Kewite Anthony Ross was invited to design the medal, and although somewhat taken aback by the request, consulted a medal die and engraving specialist company in Twickenham about practical matters and put his considerable skills to producing the exquisite medal. A first batch of ten was struck. The medal is silver gilt, weighs 50g, is 50mm in diameter and 2.5mm thick. The 2006 Journal cover showed the Medal, together with a short article by Anthony Ross on page 78 of same.

Initially the nominations for the medal were made by a Medal Awards Sub-Committee. This consisted of the President of the Guild with John Simmons, John Edmundson, Prof. Gren Lucas, Dr. Thomas S. Elias, David Hardman and David Cutler (Secretary). This functioned very effectively, but in due course the members of the Kew Guild Committee decided that they should take full responsibility for receiving and deciding on the nominations and the Sub-Committee members were thanked for their work and the Sub-Committee was disbanded. I continued to be responsible for seeing the process through the Guild Committee until I retired from this role in 2019.

Nominations are most welcome from all members of the Guild and should be sent to the Kew Guild President. It is very important that when making nominations you shouldn’t tell the nominees! Medalists up to the time of writing are as follows:

2007 Roy Lancaster, 2009 Raymond Desmond, 2010 Alan Barber, 2012 Noel McGough, 2014 Sir David Attenborough, 2015 Christopher Brickell, 2016 Alan Titchmarsh, 2017 Christopher Beardshaw, 2018 Martin Duncan, 2019 Laurie Olin.

I would like to add my thanks to Richard Ward for his help in gathering data for the article.

Peter Styles – We have recently received ten new medals. We used a mint through our Welshpool printers so thereby keeping things in house so to speak and making it easier for ordering.

Spec is: Design and Development – 50mm Obverse @ £940.00, 50mm Reverse @ £780.00, 10 off H M Silver, 2.5mm thick Collar Medal, gilt finish, in a standard presentation case 50mm @ £196.00 each. These were provided by Toye Kenning and Spencer Ltd, London. They are by Royal Appointment to Her Majesty The Queen and the medals were cast in their factory in the  Birmingham Jewellery Quarter.

See recipient details below:

Coronavirus update

In view of the exceptional circumstances brought about by the coronavirus outbreak, we’ve decided, very reluctantly, to postpone our spring/summer events programme. Unfortunately this includes the annual dinner and, most likely, the Ireland trip. I’m really sorry that we’ve had to take this action but the safety and welfare of our members is paramount and this cannot be assured for the foreseeable future.

All being well, we aim to re-arrange these events to take place either later in the year or in 2021; we’ll email you regularly with updates. For those booked onto the Ireland trip we’ll be in touch with you separately.

Once again, apologies. Please stay safe and well.

All the very best, Dave Simpson, President.

Kewite-mail, August 2020

Dear Kewites and Friends,

I hope you are all well, despite COVID.  I promised to send out a further update to you in July, but as we are due a Newsletter I thought I would combine the two.  

There is still a lot of Guild activity continuing ‘behind the scenes’ and we had another Trustees meeting (online) on 23 July. Thanks again for all the messages of support we have received. They are most welcome. 

AGM 

After consultation with the Charity Commission we will be going ahead with this year’s AGM. It will be an online meeting which will take place on Saturday, 24 October 2020 at 2pm. This later date will allow us to get familiar with the technology (!) to make sure the meeting runs as smoothly as possible. We plan to use ZOOM video-conferencing software. The agenda will be limited to essential items required by the Charity Commission, but we will send out all the usual reports to members beforehand. Members will be able join the meeting online but participation will be limited in order to keep everything manageable. I’m sorry that the meeting will be accessible only to those members with internet facilities but under the current pandemic restrictions we feel this is the safest way in which it can be held. Further details will be sent out in the next few weeks.

Annual Dinner 

We had a revised plan to hold the Annual Dinner in early September but I’m sad to say we have cancelled it altogether for this year. I know it’s a highlight for many members but restrictions on the numbers who could attend would be too great to make the event viable.

Here’s hoping for 2021… 

Events 

Likewise, we’ve cancelled all our Events programme for this year, with the intention, COVID-permitting, of re-organising them for next year plus a few additions that were being planned. The Ireland trip is already being re-organised and most members who wanted to go this year have expressed interest in joining next year. There is waiting list for any vacant places that may arise. Please contact Brian Phillips (brian@brianandsylvia.com) if you would like to go on the waiting list. We would welcome any suggestions for future events and offers to help organise these would also be welcome!  

Charitable donations 

As reported previously, the Guild made a one-off charitable donation to RBG, Kew of £5000, to help our Alma Mater through a difficult period and this was gratefully received. We have also made smaller donations of £1000 each to Perennial (The Gardeners Benevolent Society) and the Arboriculture, Forestry, Horticulture and Landscape Trailblazer Group. Again, these have been gratefully received. All these donations have been made strictly in line within the Guild’s charitable objectives and, as a condition of the donation, we expect a report from all three organisations on how our money was spent within one year of the donation being made.  

Committee appointments 

Chris Kidd will assume office as our next President at the AGM.  

Two of our Trustees will retire at the AGM: Stewart Henchie and Alan Stuttard. Both have been around for as long as anyone can remember (!) but they have given great and service to the Guild over the years, including stints as President, and we warmly thank them for all they have done.  

The names of proposed new appointees for President Elect, Vice-President and two new Trustees will be sent with the AGM paperwork. 

Archives Officer 

Janette Ames resigned as Archives Officer on 23 July to focus on her family business. We were sorry to see her go and warmly thanked her for her excellent work with the Guild archives at our last Trustees meeting. I’m pleased to say we earmarked a successor. Her name is Christina McCollough and she is the current Graduate Trainee in the RBG, Kew Archives, so it will be great to have that direct Kew link. 

Awards 

The Awards Committee meeting was postponed cancelled in July (yes, because of COVID). Very few of the awards made in March have been taken up and we have agreed to extend their take-up at least until March 2021 and further if necessary. 

I am pleased to say that Professor Mark Chase FRS (RBG, Kew) has been awarded, and has accepted, the Kew Guild Medal for 2021. We have also approved a nomination for Honorary Fellowship and the new Fellow will be announced as soon as we have confirmation of their acceptance. 

News from Kew 

Kew has continued to expand its visitor offer at both the Kew and Wakehurst sites, with most glasshouses and catering facilities now open. Pre-booking is still required, with entry by timed ticket. This arrangement is going well and although visitor numbers are down overall at Kew, there has been a big increase in visits at Wakehurst. Staff are gradually returning to work on both sites although 50% are still on furlough which brings in much-needed income but the government doesn’t allow staff to do any work while on the furlough scheme. Those staff not on furlough are able to work at home, while horticultural staff have been in keeping the gardens looking great. Much work has gone into planning various COVID-related scenarios and at the present time Kew’s management are confident they will come through without too much detriment, although a second wave may mean the organisation has to revise its financial forecasts downwards, which could have significant impact.  

COVID stories 

Richard Ward and Sparkle Ward are asking members to send in their COVID-19 stories – how it has affected you, your work life, your student life, your business or your retirement. Given impact this has had on all of us we believe that this should be recorded for posterity in the ‘Events of 2020’ Kew Guild Journal.

Please email editor@kewguild.org.uk very soon.  

During these challenging times we are looking for ways to engage with the membership and are considering some virtual talks and lectures. If anyone would like to participate, or if you have any ideas, please contact Secretary, Sara: secretary@kewguild.org.uk.

Finally… 

I want to take the opportunity to say thank you for your support of the Guild (and me as President) during a very difficult year. I’m extremely disappointed we have been unable to hold our Events as planned, as these are so much an enjoyable part of Guild membership. Fingers crossed, our programme for next year will go ahead. Despite the challenges of COVID, the Guild is very much determined to come out of the current difficulties with renewed vigour but in order to do so we very much need your continued support and participation; I sincerely hope you will feel able to do both in the coming years. 

Floreat Kew! Very best wishes, Dave 

Kew Guild AGM 2020 NEW DATE

The 2020 AGM, has now been arranged for
SATURDAY 24TH OCTOBER 2020 at 2pm

The Annual General Meeting of the Kew Gild CIO will be held this year via Zoom. We will be sending out the Notice of AGM soon which will contain all the information you need to participate.

The meeting will be secure and you will need register in order to take part.

We hope to see you there!

David Simpson, President.

Greetings from your Editor!

All members should have received their ‘Events of 2019’ Journals by now. In our Editorial we asked you to send in your Covid-19 stories – how it affected you, and your business or retirement. We believe that this should be recorded for posterity in the ‘Events of 2020’ Kew Guild Journal. Please email editor@kewguild.org.uk very soon. Thank you.

I’ve also recently visited Kew Gardens, and taken a few photos of what the Gardens are like at the moment. I hope you enjoy.

And best wishes. Sparkle Ward.’ 

Your Journal

Despite the Covid-19 lockdown our printers have come up trumps, your Editor practised self-distancing, and your Journal has been posted!…

Sparkle and Richard Ward preparing the Kew Guild Journal for posting - practising social distancing of course!
Editor Sparkle Ward and her Executive Assistant Richard, preparing the journals for posting.

Save the Date…

Annual Dinner 2021

The Kew Guild Annual Dinner in 2021 will be held on Thursday 20th May 2021 in Cambridge Cottage.

The Kew Guild Annual Dinner 2020 POSTPONED

The Kew Guild President, David Simpson, is reluctantly postponing the Kew Guild Annual Dinner to be held at Cambridge Cottage, 37 Kew Green, TW9 3AB on Thursday 21st May 2020.

The Dinner 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.

The Guest Speaker will be, Dr Tim Utteridge Head of Identification & Naming at Kew. He is an entertaining speaker and will talk about the work that he and his team are doing in SE Asia.

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. We have agreed with the caterers that the event will be at the same price as 2019. There will be a cash bar to purchase drinks throughout the event. The current students will organise a cash raffle 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 by Tuesday 31st March.

We look forward to meeting you all at what will be an excellent occasion for the Guild. Please click here for the application form to reserve your place[s]

Yours sincerely,

Dave

David Simpson President 2019-20

Rockcliffe and Highgrove Gardens, Gloucestershire

The Kitchen Garden at Rockcliffe, Hertfordshire

11-12 APRIL 2019
Peter Styles

This was a two-day event suggested by Martin Staniforth. The planning of the Rockcliffe and Highgrove visit had been much anticipated and was long in its making. Royal Household protocol and other events at Highgrove meant that we only received approval shortly before the event, but we were not disappointed.

Rockcliffe

Thursday morning saw 20 members and guests gathered in the car park at Rockcliffe House to meet the owners Emma Keswick and her husband Simon. Kew Graduate Thomas Unterdorfer was the head gardener here until last year and Amy Newsome, student in Kew Diploma course 56, also trained at Rockcliffe.

The 8-acre garden is a personal triumph for Emma, who created the garden and whose design philosophy can be described as organic. Emma is also a garden designer in her own right, trained in horticulture at Merrist Wood and in garden design at the English Gardening School. One her of her earlier commissions involved the first Maggie’s Centre in Edinburgh in 1996. The centres are named after Maggie Keswick, Simon’s cousin, also a garden designer, who died of cancer but left behind a legacy of cancer centres dedicated to a new approach to patient care. Maggie was supported by her husband, the late architect Charles Jencks of Garden of Cosmic Speculation fame – such are the common threads that bind us all together in life.

Throughout the garden there are references to Simon’s old school Eton – in the gate to the formal terrace and another reference in the pennant-shaped Dovecote weather vane. The Dovecote is a magnificent Cotswold stone structure, sitting high up in the garden and entered through a gate from the Kitchen Garden. The path is lined each side with topiarized doves creating a wonderful quirky approach.

To the rear of the house Emma has created a ‘ha-ha’, forming the boundary to the garden and allowing an uninterrupted view to the surrounding Gloucestershire countryside. A double row of Beech obelisks draw the eye across the lawn to the ‘borrowed landscape’. The view is punctuated with a striking bronze statue by Nigel Hall, aptly named ‘Southern Shade’.

The garden is famous for its planting and the use of colour, yet despite the early Spring visit, we were able to appreciate the form of the individual garden spaces or rooms. This has been achieved by the skillful use of clipped Yew and Box hedges and which provide all year round structure to the garden. The formal pool garden was particularly impressive with an early showing of colour from a magnificent stand of the tired Cornus controversa ’Variegata’.

At the end of our tour we were treated by Emma to coffee and biscuits in the Orangery. This is truly an iconic garden and we thanked Emma for her hospitality with a copy of the Kew Guild book.

Rockcliffe Gardens 2019
Kew Guild members visit Rockcliffe Gardens 2019 L to R: David Priestley, Bryan Howard, Veronica Priestley, Peter Styles, Jean and Rob Peach, Emma Keswick, Brian Phillips, Jenny Edmonds, Wendy Staniforth, Sylvia Phillips, Linda Baharier, David Edmonds, Liz Styles, Tony Overland, David Hardman, Jan Overland, Joan Howard, Martin Staniforth, Peter Turski.

Highgrove

On Friday morning, armed with the requested various forms of photographic identification we gathered in a car convoy at the entrance to Highgrove. In the event the security guards were happy for your President to vouch for the good character of the whole group!

Debs met us armed with a large piece of Flowering Cherry, which Leo Pemberton was able to identify. Our first plant ident test for the morning!
Debs Goodenough, head gardener, although with a very busy schedule for the week, was able to generously give her time to host the morning. We were extremely lucky to have such an exclusive tour of the gardens.
Debs was an international student at Kew in 1985 before moving to Ventnor Botanic Gardens. Debs has been at Highgrove since 2008 and heads up a team of 11 full time gardeners.

Security protocol is strict at Highgrove and sadly we were not allowed to take photos or to use recording equipment. This was understandably but a shame as there were many photo opportunities. Highgrove, an 18th century house and gardens, is the family residence of The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall The Prince acquired the estate in 1980 and set about transforming it into his own personal space with energy and artistic flair.
The gardens are filled with many treasures – plant and sculptures gifts to The Prince from around the world, each given its own space to form a unique feature within the gardens. There is, for example, an elephant-themed area.

The Prince has a real ‘hands on’ approach to his garden, which is a reflection of his own eclectic and often whimsical taste. His commitment to organic and sustainable gardening is much in evidence. There is so much to see in a garden of this size and complexity. One favourite was the Stumpery which also contains the National Collection of Hostas and a magnificent Gunnera stone tower water feature. This would be one feature to come back to see in Summer when the Gunnera is in full leaf. The Sundial Garden has a feature hedge of clipped Yew with windows framing busts of HRH The Prince of Wales. We were told that the delphiniums, extensively planted in the garden, are one of the Prince’s favourite flowers.

The dramatic scale of the Thyme Walk drew us at once. An informal paved walk with 20 varieties of thyme, marjoram and primroses form a link to the main house. Planted each side there are lines of pleached Limes framing the view to the house and providing a dramatic backdrop to the Golden Yew topiary. This ancient topiary has been clipped into magnificent and fantastical forms. Sir Roy Strong had an involvement in the redesign of this space. The Prince is keen to allow the thyme, marjoram and primrose to seed themselves into the paving thus creating a living carpet.

We were delighted to be shown a new garden in construction. A formal garden with clipped Box and Yew and with each bed a different colour scheme grading though the colours – almost like a living colour wheel. The Prince, with his love of watercolour painting, has a keen eye for the use of colour in his planting schemes, very much in the styles of Gertrude Jekyll.
As we toured the garden, we happened upon our old Kewite friend Alan Titchmarsh who was delivering a presentation that day. There were hugs all round.

Towards the end of the tour we were handed over to gardener Ashleigh Davies, a graduate of the Kew Diploma 2015. Ashleigh invited us to see the Kitchen Garden, with its extensive production areas and the collection of rare breed chickens – all ready to provide the Prince with those famous boiled eggs we often hear about. The area is enclosed with a Celtic knot hedge – an idea that the Prince picked up on one his many travels. The hedge is woven with Ash, Sycamore and Oak into an attractive and biodiverse living feature. It was heartening to hear of the deep trust that the Prince has with his head gardener, even when travelling he is keen to have a regular update from Debs on what’s happening in the garden.

All too soon it was time for us to thank Debs and leave her to her busy day ahead – but not before we manged to capture a photograph of Leo Pemberton and Debs together. Highgrove is a garden to return to in the Summer when in full flower.

The Kitchen Garden at Rockcliffe
Leo Pemberton with Highgrove Head Gardener, Debs Goodenough

Gardens in South Hertfordshire

Hatfield House

8th – 9th June 2019

Peter Styles

This was a weekend event that was originally organised by Bob Ivison in 2018 but was postponed to June 2019. 26 members and guests gathered at Capel Manor College on a damp Saturday morning . Our spirits were immediately alighted by our host for the morning Dr. Stephen Dowbiggin, past Principal of the College. His enthusiasm was palpable – clearly a man who although retired still retained a great love and interest in the students and the future of the College.

Capel Manor is an extraordinary Institution. 60 gardens and landscapes spread over 30 acres and it’s easy to forget that these wonderful grounds support no fewer than five individual Schools and Colleges including, Arboriculture, Agriculture and environmental, Conservation, Royal College of Animal Management and Saddlery, plus of course its Higher Education Course-in short, the very epicentre of learning excellence.

Capel Manor
Dr. Stephen Dowbiggin addressing the group.

Since its establishment in 1968, hundreds of students have passed through its doors, many going on to establish successful careers in horticulture, garden design, floristry, equine and arboriculture. Alumni include garden designers Anne-Marie Powell and Kim Wilde.

The Which? magazine has its garden trials here such is the College’s high esteem in the horticulture world.

The history of Capel Manor dates back the 13th century. There is very little evidence of the original estate layout today. The historic Gothic elements seen in the gardens today have been skillfully created to provide a theatrical backdrop to the gardens, so much so that they are in great demand for regular wedding events. The central elements to the estate are the Georgian house and Victorian stables.

There are Royal connections aplenty – HRH Prince Charles is a frequent visitor and both HRH The Queen and Princess Diana have opened display gardens – Stephen entertained us with a few ‘Royal’ anecdotes.

After a splendid lunch at the College Refectory we assembled at Myddelton House garden in the afternoon to meet our host Bryan Hewitt, Senior Gardener. Bryan is a man of many parts, not least an expert on the Gothic horror actor Vincent Price, and is also an author to boot. Bryan made us feel very much a home and is a natural raconteur providing us with a veritable smorgasbord of good stories as we toured the gardens.

Myddelton House and Gardens, built in 1818, are managed by the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority. Myddelton was the home of Edward Augustus Bowles – ‘The Crocus King’ and Bowles dedicated his life to maintaining and developing the Gardens. Myddelton was also at one time the plant base for the London School of Pharmacy and a vivisection centre.

Members listen to our Host Bryan Hewitt, Senior Gardener
Myddleton House and Gardens

Apart from Crocus one of Bowles‘ passions was for plants with contorted stems and foliage. He created a plant ‘Lunatic Asylum’ – one of the original plants featured here is Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’. Bowles was also an accomplished artist and author.

One of the highlights of the eight-acre garden is the Victorian glasshouse with its four climatic zones and there was a further surprise discovery for us – the original early Victorian Enfield Market Cross which Bowles rescued and erected as a central feature in the Rose Gardens. To these features we can add an extensive heritage kitchen garden and the cut flower beds.

Bowles’ plant hunting trips to the Pyrenees inspired him to create a fine Alpine Meadow which features his signature Crocus and other choice bulbs The recently renovated Rock Garden with its Japanese-style pagoda was of considerable pleasure to Bowles who helped with its construction. On his death his ashes were scatted here.

A stand of Japanese Knotweed was an unusual find for us. Bowles was a great admirer of this invasive plant and specimens are maintained to educate visitors on identification how this weed can be kept in check. I remember planting Japanese Knotweed in my own Richmond garden back in the late 1960’s because of its architectural qualities and easy cultivation made it a firm favourite for a budding landscape designer. I may have been responsible for spreading Japanese Knotweed throughout the Borough!
Throughout the gardens there are plants discovered by Bowles and which bear his name. Hebe ‘E. A. Bowles’, Helleborus ‘Bowles Yellow’, Erysimum ‘Bowles Mauve’ and Viola ‘Bowles Black’ were noted. There are more than 40 plants named after him and a Bowles Corner at RHS Wisley has been dedicated to his plants.

New additions to the gardens, funded by the Heritage Lottery and opened in 2011, include the Bowles museum and a fine Bowles tearoom which we were able to enjoy after our extremely entertaining and informative garden tour by our host Bryan Hewitt.

We all enjoyed a superb evening meal at the Pied Bull in Enfield on Saturday night and on Sunday morning, with the sun shining brightly, we gathered at Hatfield House where we were met by our host Andrew Turvey Head of Gardens and Estates. Andrew maintains the gardens and estate with a staff of 10 – no small feat given that the gardens cover 42 acres.
Hatfield House built in 1611 by Robert Cecil- son of Lord Burghley, is a splendid Jacobean house. It Is the home of the present 7th Marquess and Marchioness of Salisbury and has been in family for 400 years. It embraces a diverse portfolio of property, which we were informed by Andrew includes TV and film production facilities as it is so close to Pinewood and Elstree studios. Recent productions include The Crown, Paddington2 and Transformers.

We commenced our tour poising in front of Hatfield House. Behind us, forming an impressive backdrop, was the water sculpture. Suitable titled ‘Renaissance’ it was commissioned by Lord Salisbury and designed by Angela Connor, the world famous sculptor.

Hatfield House
L-R: David and Veronica Priestley, Rob Peach, John Isaac, Jean Peach, Christine Waddell,
Leo Pemberton, Simon Owens, Marilyn Owens, Bob Ivison, Graham Bull, Andrew Turvey,
Peter Styles, Peter Sedwell, Teresa Ivison, Sue Dunnell, Elaine Sedwell,
Penny Hooper, Jan and Tony Overland, Carol Hart.

Hatfield defines the very essence of English history. It was in the medieval parkland in 1558 that the young Princess Elizabeth heard of her accession to the throne. An Oak planted by HRH The Queen in 1985 marks the spot and replaces the original veteran Oak. There are many other fine veteran trees throughout the estate which we were able to inspect including the famous Lime Avenue. Andrew explained that he is collaborating with Barcham Trees on the propagation and planting of new trees to the Avenue.
There was so much to see in one day, but highlights included the Sundial Garden, Commissioned to celebrate Hatfield’s 400th anniversary. We entered the Garden through Box tunnels which opened out onto a paved area surrounded by raised rose beds and blue and white delphinium and iris planting. The unique Longitude Timepiece appropriately locates Hatfield as the centre of the world.

The sheer scale of the 16-acre landscaped Broadwater lake is breathtaking. We were informed that the island has been recently planted with twenty species of Oak.

The East Garden, another highlight, was laid out by the 5th Marquess and contains parterres, topiary drums and octopi shapes, and some very unusual planting.

Hatfield is a place to return to time and again and we all thanked Andrew for his wonderful tour and presented with a copy of the Kew Guild book.

Featured image: Hatfield House, Renaissance Water Sculpture.