So have I heard the cuckoo’s parting cry,
From the wet field, through the vext garden trees,
Come with the volleying rain and tossing breeze.
Mather Arnold, 1822-1888
How apt that just a few days before our visit to Bodenham I (Graham Heywood) should be reading the above poem by Mathew Arnold. Was it a warning of the weather we might expect?
We gathered under a dark grey sky with warnings of extreme gales and heavy rain, but despite the warnings 22 members signed up braved the weather to enjoy the first event of the 2017/18 season. Organised by Tony Overland with assistance from Brian Phillips we enjoyed a guided tour of ‘Worcestershire’s Hidden Garden’. Led by the second generation’s owner James Binnian we were shown a huge range of trees and shrubs, set within a beautifully landscaped 170-acre park with magnificent water features.
The arboretum is a privately-run garden, part of a larger family run farming business incorporating home produced lamb, pork and beef; log production producing 1,000 tons per year to feed the hugely increasing number of private log burning fires; a very popular lakeside licensed restaurant and shop. There are 170 acres in total. The restaurant has become a local destination attracting large numbers of visitors at the weekend.
James informed us that in terms of overall income, the most profitable was the food sales, followed by sale of logs and then admissions to the arboretum.
The site is bowl shaped with an opening on one side, and converting it to its current purpose was relatively easy. Within this bowl there are two miniature valleys which are fed with water from a series of springs. David Binnians’s (James’ father) first task was to decide where the pools were to be created, and then the location of the planting of additional trees. There are now some thirteen pools with a constant supply of water.
When the property was purchased in 1973 by James’ parents it was a near derelict 127 acres with extensive rough grazing and covered in brambles and scrub woodland. James’ father David was a Kidderminster based estate agent and who read forestry at college. The arboretum opened to the public in 1998. It now employs 20 staff inside and 5 outside the grounds. The site is on clay but with careful management the tree losses have been reduced. Part of the estate was heavily planted with Poplar for the nearby Bryant and May matchstick factory, but this has long disappeared although large stands of Poplar still survive in and around the site. One of the main features of the park is the Laburnum tunnel, styled on the fine example at Bodnant but laid out in a unique curving format. Honey fungus is a problem here. A splendid Gazebo erected to mark the millennium and a new fernery both add greatly to the must-see attractions.
The arboretum is a perfect wildlife habitat and the West Midland Bird Club hold their National Bird surveys there every year. One the busy times of year is Christmas when the donkeys become a firm favourite.
James has received a host of awards including a Tourism Enterprise Award and an English Heritage Status Award in 1995. Bodenham is the only site which has qualified twice for this prestigious award. James took a poignant moment to describe his experience when visiting the House of Lords to collect the Tourism Enterprise Award from Angela Leadson. He was on the Westminster Bridge at the time of the terrorist attack in March of this year with his family on their way to collect their award.
James reminded us about the Kew links with the arboretum – Kew were assessors for the Heritage Status award and were also instrumental in the early days of its development by providing plant material. Sadly, these early links with Kew have not lasted and our President, Jean Griffin promised to look into the possibility of these links being renewed.
Finally, we asked about the future plans for the arboretum and the family business. James is not the kind of man to let the grass grow under his feet! There are two rapidly growing Forest Schools benefiting more than 3000 children each year and a programme of thinning and shrub colour enrichment. At this point James reflected on the knowledge he and his family have accumulated over the years and cautioned anyone in a similar situation not to plant trees too close together. They need room to grow!
We concluded our very informative and inspiring morning tour with a splendid lunch at the lakeside restaurant, after which many members took the opportunity to explore the gardens by themselves before departing home. However, before members and friends departed the restaurant there was one very important task for the President to perform. That was to congratulate Leo Pemberton on his 89th birthday (we had all signed a birthday card for Leo) who seemed to be more fit and agile than many present who were younger than he. We reflected on the support and encouragement Leo had provided to many of us during our time as students at Kew. Well done Leo; what a wonderful age and what a wonderful man!
PS: The weather was, after all, relatively good for our visit with just a light occasional drizzle and no wind to speak of.
Review by Graham Heywood and Peter Styles.
The Kew Guild AGM was held on Saturday 9th September 2017 at RBG Kew. The photo is of many of the past Presidents of the Guild.
Members arrived at the Queen Elizabeth gate to join a tour of the Economic Botany Collection guided by Mark Nesbitt (Curator) and Frances Cook (Assistant Curator). The tour was slightly oversubscribed, but Mark and Frances accommodated everyone and we enjoyed a fascinating tour, learning about the role of Christine Leon and her important work in the identification of plants and fungi used in Chinese medicine. We were also shown some of the more historical items stored in the collection.
Old friends had the chance to catch up during the picnic in the Gardens and we were lucky the rain held off until we went into the meeting.
A great turnout for the meeting and the first things we noticed was the wonderful floral display and the successful renovation of the Jodrell Lecture Theatre. Business was conducted swiftly and the meeting closed at 4pm. The students provided tea and cakes afterwards, sharing their work and experiences giving us the chance to meet and chat, raising approximately £160. Our thanks go to Sal Demain and her team of students.
Dinner was provided at the Cricketers Inn on Kew Green, hosted by the new President Jean Griffin (who looks in fine voice with her mouth open in the photo below!)
The Trustees and Committee extend their thanks to all involved.
Past Presidents photo, from L-R Tom Wood, Jim Mitchell, Stewart Henchie, Martin Sands, Alex George, Jean Griffin, Allan Hart, David Hardman, Bob Ivison, Colin Hindmarch, Tony Overland.
Not everyone is fortunate enough to visit the magnificent gardens of both Compton Acres in Poole, Dorset and Exbury in Hampshire and be met by their owners and key staff members. Our hosts not only graciously outlined the history, their development philosophy and answered all our questions, they also escorted our group at a leisurely pace around two of England’s finest gardens. Kew is undoubtedly lucky to hold such prestige in the gardening world that members of our guild are afforded such generous hospitality.
It was a mixed group of 23, both members of the Kew Guild and their families that met in Compton Acres’s light and airy tea room to enjoy a welcoming cup of tea. There we were greeted by Bernard Merna, owner, Peter Thoday who advised Bernard in the initial stages when he bought the garden about restoration and planning issues and brought Mary Payne on board as an associate to manage the horticultural side of the garden. It was very informative to be made aware of the restraints behind the development and management of this stunning garden. Compton Acres is a relatively new garden that dates back only to the 1920’s. What it lacks in size just over 10 acres it more than compensates with floral displays evolving to meet public expectations whilst still maintaining a charm of its own.
The garden boasts a magnificent collection of over 3000 species of trees and shrubs and herbaceous plants, including some at the extreme limit of their hardiness in the U.K.
After a light lunch, we were free to explore at our leisure. The weather was mild and it was truly delightful to traverse and explore the wooded valley via its well-maintained paths and discover some of its many features, especially the stream with its cascades and water falls. In contrast the Italian garden functions to host special events. including marriage ceremonies and receptions.
Exbury’s 200 acre spread of rhododendrons include over 800 registered hybrids is deservedly world famous. Whilst after lunch the train ride epitomized the carefree nature of our visit, it was the warmth of our reception in the morning that set the tone to our visit. After welcoming us, Mr. Lionel de Rothschild explained the vision he is still developing, the important role his head gardener Thomas Clarke now plays, and what Mr. Rothschild’s forefather’s dedication, and resources had achieved. It is hard to believe that a staff of only 10 gardeners manage the maintenance of such a colossal undertaking. Species have been collected from around the world and hybridized to produce plants of improved colour, form and hardiness, many of which we were able to enjoy in bloom. Plants not meeting desired hybridizing objectives being ruthlessly destroyed.
A Toot, Toot, Tooting
I don’t think our president, Alan Stuttard could believe his luck when being given the opportunity to be co-engineer of Exbury Gardens’ miniature steam locomotive on a twenty-minute trip through part of the gardens. The train carried our party of 32 as well as our gracious host Lionel de Rothschild who had made this exclusive special arrangement. Alan seemed to re-live childhood memories of his grandfather who was an engine driver. He even managed to get us back safely to the station!
We were privileged to gain a first-hand insight and enjoy two truly delightful and magnificent gardens and David Hardman is to be commended for a superb job organizing the visits which ran like clockwork.
Brian Dodds, Landscape Architect and Kew graduate
by Allan Hart
The Annual General Meeting of the Kew Guild 2005 ratified the recommendation of the Committee – to incorporate a new category of membership, that of ‘Associate’. This is in recognition of the support of wives, husbands and partners who have made, and continue to make, significant contributions to the administration and activities of the Guild.
Associates do not pay a subscription as they are already covered by that paid by their partners. (Associate Members are not allowed to vote.) On the death of their partner the President will contact them to invite them to become full members at the current rate of subscription. The Guild would like to attract more Associates – simply contact the Membership Secretary firstname.lastname@example.org
by Richard Ward
The Annual Kew Guild Dinner was held on Thursday 25th May in Cambridge Cottage, Kew Green.
On one of the hottest days of the year nearly 60 Guild members and guests enjoyed free access to the Gardens during the day and at 18.50 precisely were summoned to the dining room by MC Richard Ward. Members and guests clapped President Allan Stuttard and his wife into the room and Rev. Hugh Flower said Grace. After the meal Stewart Henchie, ebullient as ever, proposed the toast to ‘The President’, to which Allan responded, reminisced, entertained us all, and gave a toast to ‘The Kew Guild’ and ‘Our guests.’ Kew’s Director of Horticulture Richard Barley responded on behalf of the guests. Diploma student Kathryn Bray gave the toast ‘To Absent Friends.’
President Allan presented the Kew Guild medal to Landscape Designer Chris Beardshaw who voiced his appreciation. The George Brown scroll ‘For furthering diplomacy in the true spirit of the Kew Guild’ was presented to Nicholas Boyes who was equally grateful.
Past Presidents of the Guild were stood and were recognised. Similarly Overseas visitors – being Val and Jim Mitchell from Australia, Pamela and Brian Dodds and Ian Lamont Smith from Canada.
5 Diploma students attended the Dinner. Di Stuttard kindly drew the raffle tickets and their raffle raised £280 for student funds.
Allan thanked outgoing Dinner organiser Jennifer Alsop, MC Richard Ward, and Editor Sparkle Ward for their input to the evening; and presented gifts of wine and flowers in appreciation.
Further details of the evening will be published in the Events of 2017 Journal, together with selected photos.
Student gardener at Kew 1893–95. Curator, Royal Botanic Gardens, Peradeniya, Ceylon, 1895–1925. Horticultural and Agricultural Advisor, Abadan, Persia, 1926–27.
b. Baenlick, Glen Urquhart, Inverness, Scotland, 4 June 1869; d. Ealing, Middlesex, England, 19 November 1948
Hugh Macmillan was born on 4 June 1869 and had his early horticultural training at Dochfour Castle. He then moved to Wales where he worked under Andrew Pettigrew at Cardiff Castle. Around 1893 he went to Kew as a student gardener and gained experience in several departments. He left Kew in June 1895 to become Curator of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Peradeniya, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), a position that he held until 1912 when he appointed superintendent of all gardens in Ceylon. Throughout his time in that country he contributed greatly to improving horticultural practices that were relevant to the whole region.
In 1910 he published Handbook of Tropical Gardening and Planting with Special Reference to Ceylon. It became a standard text, so successful that it went to a 5th edition by 1962. He also contributed articles to the Journal of Tropical Agriculture and to local newspapers. On retirement from this position in 1926 he moved to Persia (now Iran) and became Horticultural and Agricultural Advisor to the Anglo-Persian Oil Company based at Abadan.
Around 1928 Macmillan returned to Britain, settling at first in Ickenham, later moving to Ealing. He had joined The Kew Guild in 1895 and remained a member for almost 40 years. He was a Fellow of the Linnean Society from about 1920. In 1943 he was made an Associate of Honour of the Royal Horticultural Society.
Desmond, R. (1994), Dictionary of British and Irish Botanists and Horticulturists, Taylor & Francis & The Natural History Museum, London, p. 458–9.
Parsons, T.H. (1949), Obituary, H.F. Macmillan, A.H.R.H.S, F.L.S., Journal of The Kew Guild 6: 697.
Check out or new Archives and History page – Archives and History. We would like to thank our new Archivist, Astrid Purton, for her hard work so far…
KEWITES’ CONTRIBUTION TO WORLD HORTICULTURE
This compilation was suggested by Jim Mitchell, President of the Guild in 2012–13, and adopted by the Trustees as an ongoing project in 2015.
To demonstrate Kew’s contributions to world horticulture in economic development, establishing botanic gardens and parks (both public and private), enhancing urban communities, provision of memorials, conservation and the media. This will take the form of potted biographies of Kewites, placed on a dedicated page on the Guild’s website.
For the purposes of this project, a Kewite is a person who has spent at least three months working, studying or volunteering at The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (including Wakehurst Place), and its predecessor The Royal Gardens at Kew.
The scope is large but we hope that by steady additions it will become a significant resource showing the influence of Kew on horticulture and botany around the world. The accounts given here are concise; they are not intended as full biographies. In many instances the sources cited give further details, as well as other references. For the present, the fifty Kewites covered in Desmond and Hepper’s book will not be repeated here, since the biographies there are similar in scope.
The Kew Guild will welcome additions and corrections. These should be directed to Jonathan Rickards (email@example.com) or Alex George (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Major sources on Kew
Bean, W.J. (1908), The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew: Historical and Descriptive, Cassell and Co., London.
Blunt, W. (1978), In for a Penny: A Prospect of Kew Gardens: their Flora, Fauna and Falballas, Hamish Hamilton in association with The Tryon Gallery, London.
Desmond, R. (1995), Kew: The History of the Royal Botanic Gardens, The Harvill Press, London, with The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; paperback edition 1998.
Desmond, R. & Hepper, F.N. (1993), A Century of Kew Plantsmen A Celebration of The Kew Guild, The Kew Guild, Richmond.
Turrill, W.B. (1959), The Royal Botanic Gardens Kew Past and Present, Herbert Jenkins, London.
The Journal of The Kew Guild (1893– present).
Assistant at Kew, 1899–1903. Foundation Professor of Botany, South African College, Cape Town, 1903–16. Instrumental in foundation of Kirstenbosch Botanic Gardens, 1913. Collected widely in southern Africa. Studied Gnetales, especially Welwitschia and Gnetum.
b. Long Sutton, Lincolnshire, England, 28 Jan. 1870; d. Wynberg, Cape Town, South Africa, 3 Nov. 1916
Harold Pearson was born at Long Sutton, Lincolnshire, on 28 January 1870. After private schooling he worked as a chemist’s assistant and taught at Eastbourne, before gaining a Clothworkers’ and Leathersellers’ Exhibition that took him to Cambridge University in 1893. He was a Foundation Scholar of Christ’s College in 1896, Darwin Prizeman, and Frank Smart Student of Botany at Gonville and Gaius College in 1898. He gained a First Class in both parts of the Natural Sciences Tripos, then a BA in 1896 and an MA in 1900. A Worts’ Travelling Scholarship took him to Ceylon in 1897 where he studied high-altitude grasslands (Patanas), receiving the Walsingham Medal from Cambridge for this work. In 1898, he became assistant curator of the Cambridge herbarium.
Pearson was appointed to Kew from 1899 to 1903, first as Assistant for India, then as Assistant to the Director (W. Thistleton-Dyer). His interest in taxonomy expanded and during this time he contributed the family Verbenaceae to the Flora Capensis.
From Kew he moved to Cape Town in 1903 as Foundation Professor of Botany (established by Harry Bolus) at South African College. The first task was to plan a science block for the new department. Driven initially by a desire to study Welwitschia in the wild, he conducted extensive field work, especially in Namaqualand. His research on this plant (for which he received his doctorate in 1907) and the related genus Gnetum led to a new classification of the order Gnetales, not quite completed before his death but edited by A.C. Seward and published in 1929. His first expedition, in 1904, was cut short by an outbreak of war between the Germans and Hereros! He published an account of an expedition of 1907 in Kew Bulletin 1907: 339–360.
Pearson became the first editor of the Annals of the Bolus Herbarium, founded in 1914. A photograph of the staff of the herbarium appears in Gunn and Codd (1981) p. 96. He had a strong interest in economic botany, especially plants useful for fodder and cultivation. His efforts promoting the need for a botanic garden at the Cape came to fruition in 1913 with the establishment of the Botanic Garden at Kirstenbosch. Appointed an honorary director, he was involved in planning and laying out the garden.
Harold Pearson was a member of The Kew Guild. He was a Fellow of the Linnean Society and of the Royal Society of South Africa, and in 1916 was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. His early death from acute pneumonia followed a minor operation. He was married but had no children.
Pearson discovered a number of new plants. He is commemorated in the legume genus Pearsonia and in the names of four species. The Harold Pearson Chair of Botany was created at Cape Town University, to be occupied by the Director of the National Botanic Gardens.
Desmond, R. (1994), Dictionary of British and Irish Botanists and Horticulturists, Taylor & Francis & The Natural History Museum, London, p. 542.
Gunn, M. & Codd, L.E. (1981), Botanical Exploration of Southern Africa …, A.A.Balkema, Cape Town.
Henry Harold Welch Pearson, Dedication in Curtis’s Botanical Magazine vol. CXL, pp 346–348, 1914.
M.S. [Matilda Smith?] (1916), In Memoriam, Henry Harold Welch Pearson, Journal of the Kew Guild. 3 (XXIII): 377–378.