Botanist, plant collector, including voyage of HMS Herald 1847–1851, central America, Fiji; writer
b. Hannover, Germany, 28 Feb. 1825; d. Nicaragua, 10 Oct. 1871.
A native of Hannover, Seemann entered Kew as a gardener in 1844, working under the curator, John Smith. He came to Kew with the object of fitting himself for the role of a botanical collector.
On the recommendation of Sir William Hooker he was appointed naturalist to HMS Herald in 1846. The Herald, under Captain Henry Kellett, undertook a surveying expedition of the Pacific between 1845 and 1851. Seemann joined the ship in Panama in January 1847, and while awaiting her arrival explored the isthmus of Panama, finding many new plants. He sent several cases of living plants to Kew before the vessel undertook its survey of the American west coast and arctic regions. During August and September 1847 he made a large collection in Ecuador. His dried plant specimens were delivered to Hooker when the Herald returned to England in 1851.
On the recommendation of Hooker, the Admiralty requested that Seemann publish the results of the voyage. He produced, in 1853, The Narrative of the Voyage of H.M.S. Herald during the years 1845-1851 and, between 1852 and 1857, The Botany of the Voyage of H.M.S. Herald, in 10 parts.
He was awarded a doctorate by the University of Göttingen in 1853.
In 1853 he founded the German periodical Bonplandia, a quarto botanical journal, which he edited for 10 years, before establishing in its place the English Journal of Botany.
He went on to explore the Fiji Islands in 1860, returning in 1861 with a large collection of plants. He published a catalogue of the flora of the islands (1862) and a Flora in 10 parts (1865–1873).
Seemann explored further in Central America and spent much time in Nicaragua, in connection with the Javali gold mines, where he succumbed to fever in 1871.
He developed a special interest in the genera Camellia and Thea and the families Ternstroemiaceae, Crescenticeae, Hederaceae and Bignoniaceae. Several genera were named after him but the only one still accepted is Seemannaralia (Araliaceae).
The main set of most of his herbarium collections is at the Natural History Museum, London, but that from Fiji is at Kew. There are duplicates in many other herbaria.
For a bibliography of all his botanical publications see F.A. Stafleu & R.S. Cowan (1985), Taxonomic Literature 2nd edn 5: 474–481, Bohn, Scheltema & Holkema, Utrecht/Antwerpen.
Hemsley, W. Botting (1904), In memoriam, Berthold Seemann, Journal of the Kew Guild 1 (3): 31–32.
Howgego, R. (2004), Encyclopedia of Exploration 1800 to 1850, pp 314–316, Hordern House, Potts Point.
Trimen, H. (1872), Obituary, The Journal of Botany 10: 1–7.
Kew Gardener, 1896. At Botanic Gardens, Calcutta, 1898. Superintendent, Taj Gardens, 1900; at Delhi 1913, Deputy Director (Garden Circle), Agricultural Department, United Provinces of Agra and Oudh.
b. London, England, 1875; d. London, England, 6 Oct 1935
Born in London and educated in Paris, Versailles and London, Griessen entered Kew as a student gardener in June 1896, where he was appointed sub-foreman in the same year. At that time he was the youngest sub-foreman to have been appointed to the role, being just 21 years old.
He continued as sub-foreman until 1898 when he was appointed to the Government Botanic Gardens at Sibpur, Calcutta. He soon transferred to Agra to act as Superintendent to the Taj Gardens. Griessen was tasked with restoring the grounds surrounding the Taj Mahal, including McDonnell Park, the grounds surrounding the Queen Victoria Memorial Statue and the Circuit House. At Agra he also reclaimed the historic gardens of Etmad-ud-doola and Sikandra, and laid out Hewett Park and the People’s Park. He planned and laid out many gardens in Agra and wrote extensively about his work in India. He laid out the landscape and horticultural amenities of the immense camps at Delhi on the occasions of the Coronation Durbar under Lord Curzon and of the Imperial Durbar under Lord Hardinge, and also the camps at Agra on the occasion of the visits of the Prince and Princess of Wales in 1905, and the Emir of Afghanistan in 1907. At times up to 2000 men were working on these projects. For his service there he was awarded the Royal Victorian Medal and the Kaiser-i-Hind medal for distinguished service to the British Empire in India.
After thirteen years of service in Agra, he transferred to Delhi. His work there included the re-afforestation of the dry and barren Delhi Southern Ridge and town planning in Muttra and the Native States. For the King Emperor Durbar of 1913 State Camps were prepared to accommodate more than 4000 guests. More than 105 000 plants were grown specially and 160 railways trucks of decorative plants were sent from distant government gardens. Superintendents from the provinces came to lay out their respective camps. Griessen noted that ‘never before did any town in India witness so large a gathering of Kewites: —Messrs. Locke, Mustoe, Long, Little, Johnson, Head, Krumbiegel and others’. He rose to the position of Deputy Director (Garden Circle), Agricultural Department, United Provinces of Agra and Oudh (now Uttar Pradesh). He was involved in archaeological excavation and the preservation of ancient tombs situated on lands under his care.
In 1928, when due to return to England for two years’ leave prior to his retirement, he was asked by the Government of India to continue for a further three years but, for family reasons, he declined. In 1930 he retired after thirty-two years of public service, returning to England and settling at Craven Park, London.
Griessen wrote extensively, in English and French, on horticulture in France and his experiences in India. He retired to Craven Park, London, in 1930.
Griessen, A.E.P. (1926), A retrospective glance after twenty-seven years in India, Journal of The Kew Guild 4 (33): 405–410.
Proudlock, R.L. (1936), Obituary, Journal of The Kew Guild 5 (43): 582–584.
Desmond, R. (1994), Dictionary of British and Irish Botanists and Horticulturists, Taylor & Francis and The Natural History Museum, London.
Desmond, R. & Hepper, F.N. (1993), A Century of Kew Plantsmen: A Celebration of The Kew Guild, The Kew Guild, Royal Botanic gardens, Kew, Richmond.
William Goldring (May 1854-1919) was a landscape architect, and naturalist. Goldring arrived at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (1875) where he was in charge of the Herbaceous Department at the word-famous botanical garden. He served as the Assistant Editor of The Garden (1879), and the Editor of Woods and Forests (1883-1886). He was also President of the Kew Guild (1913). Goldring’s work included many private houses, hospitals, asylums and public parks in England, Wales, India and the United States of America. He is responsible for work on nearly 700 different garden landscape projects in England alone – Ed. (http://www.parksandgardens.org/places-and-people/person/551)
William Goldring is associated with three gardens in Lincolnshire, Rauceby Hospital near Sleaford (1900): Doddington Hall near Lincoln and Petwood at Woodhall Spa (1906).1 It is the last garden that the author has undertaken extensive research over the past three years in preparation for a publication on the definitive history of the gardens at Petwood. Goldring had just finished his work at Rauceby in 1906; perfect timing to commence at Petwood. There appears to be no primary evidence for Goldring’s involvement at Petwood unless Guild members are aware of any.
Petwood was an Edwardian country house, now a hotel, built for the furniture heiress, Grace Maple, then Baroness Eckhardstein, between 1905 -06 (fig.1) on a 40 acre acid soil site north of the village. The fame of the gardens arose later c.1912 with the alterations and expansion to the original design, by Harold Peto. The literature knew of a first garden but not of its appearance. Thanks to the commissions of the Baroness to local professional photographer, John Wield, we have photographic evidence of the construction and maturation of that garden from 1906-09. These images are unique. No one else ever had access to these gardens. His extensive archive, the vast majority taken on dry collodion glass plates, are now in the care of the Woodhall Spa Cottage Museum, to whom I thank for permission to reproduce here.
The plan of this first garden is shown schematically in fig.2. It can conveniently be divided into three sections. To the north of the house was an area of birch and scrub called the ‘Rough’. This was turned into a series of decorative walks, all lined by two rows of rhododendrons (fig.3) The author has identified three definite walks with the possibility of a fourth.
To the west of the house were two features, the first and most northerly was the Pergola Lawn, in reality a grass tennis court bordered on three sides by an elaborate rustic pergola supporting a profusion of climbing roses (fig.4), backed by large borders of seasonal planting in two apses placed north and south. South of the Lawn, was initially, an informal area for sitting with temporary plantings. Within 12 months this was formalised as a Sunken Garden with delightful gateways and more permanent planting of topiary and rhododendrons (fig.5)
The South Garden was in essence a huge lawned area bisected by a Central Path extending from the terrace adjacent to the house, to the focal point of a thatched summerhouse at the southern border of the garden. The path was flanked by chain linked fencing, bearing climbing roses. It was expanded near the house by a sundial lawn and at the summerhouse end by a Round Pool with a simple classical vase as a decorative feature (fig.6). The Pool and its east and west pathways were bordered with the same rustic pergola as on the Pergola Lawn. To the east was a Serpentine Walk with five huge hoops supporting roses. The lawns either side of the path were used for, croquet on the east and for statement planting of pines, palms and topiary on the west. A more formal area of topiary flanked the sundial lawn.
Kew gardener, 1871. Superintendent, Castleton Gardens, Jamaica, 1873. Government botanist and superintendent, British Guiana, 1879. Assisted in the development of sugar cane as a commercial crop.
b. near Plymouth, Devon, 24 August 1845;
d. Georgetown, Demerara, British Guiana, 28 February 1902
His early years were spent in the south of Ireland. He received his early training in horticulture in nurseries near Plymouth, before entering the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in 1871. He was promoted to foreman of the herbaceous department before, in 1873, being appointed Superintendent of the Castleton Gardens, Jamaica.
Jenman was then appointed Government Botanist and Superintendent of the Botanic Garden of British Guiana in 1879, converting the area from a virtual wasteland into a fine botanic garden. He experimented widely with tropical plants, but came to be best known for his experiments on seedlings of sugar cane. Working at first on his own, and later with Professor Harrison and the Government Chemist, he carried out a long series of experiments which made them household names with regards to the cultivation of sugarcane.
He discovered and named a number of tropical plants, studied zoology and natural history, and wrote articles for the local press as well as papers for scientific journals, e.g. on the ferns and fern-allies of Jamaica. He was a Fellow of the Linnean Society. He is commemorated in the genus Jenmania, now Palmorchis (Orchidaceae).
The archives at Kew hold many letters between Jenman and senior staff at Kew. His plant specimens are held mainly at the New York Botanical Garden and at Kew.
Anonymous (1902), In Memoriam, George Samuel Jenman, Journal of the Kew Guild. 2 (10): 92–93.
Desmond, R. (1994), Dictionary of British and Irish Botanists and Horticulturists, Taylor & Francis & The Natural History Museum, London, p. 383.
The Demerara Argosy, March 1, 1902.
Stafleu, F.A. & Cowan, R.S. (1979), Taxonomic Literature (2nd edn) 2: 436–437.
One of the first female gardeners at Kew
Horticultural College for Women, Swanley, Kent; Kew gardener, 1896–1899
b. England?, 18??; d. England, 24 Jan. 1944
In 1896, Alice Hutchings and Annie Gulvin were the two first women gardeners employed by Kew. Both were recruited after obtaining a Diploma from Swanley Horticultural College for Women, in Kent. Hutchings had obtained a Kent County Council Scholarship to attend the two-year course. Swanley Council persuaded the Director of Kew, William Thiselton-Dyer, to experiment with the employment of Swanley students. Hutchings wrote to Kew to apply for the position. She excelled in her role and became sub-forewoman in the Alpine Pits.
On leaving Kew she went as gardener to Mrs Cranfield, near Ipswich. Later she became the Head Gardener at Burstall, Suffolk. By 1902 all of the women gardeners employed as part of the experiment at Kew had left to take up horticultural posts elsewhere.
In 1902 Alice Hutchings married another Kewite, William Henry Patterson, who had also been a colleague at Swanley. When Patterson obtained a government post in the West Indies, Alice accompanied him. In 1912 Patterson was appointed Government Entomologist for the Gold Coast in West Africa, where they stayed for 20 years. Mrs Patterson joined her husband on numerous trekking expeditions, and on occasion entered native districts where no white woman had travelled before. After Patterson’s retirement they stayed on in Uganda. At the time of her death she was visiting her daughter in England.
Women gardeners were not employed at Kew again until the First World War.
Cope, G. (1945), In Memoriam, Alice Hutchings (Mrs W.H. Patterson), Journal of the Kew Guild 6: 403.
Parker, L. & Ross-Jones, K. (2013), The Story of Kew Gardens in Photographs, Arcturus Publishing, London.
Photo: Kew Guild Collection, KGU/1/9/3/262
Gardener at Kew mid-1840s. Gardener to Earl of Aberdeen at Haddo House. Manager, coffee plantation, Ceylon, 1847. Moved to Australia 1849. Gardener, Melbourne, Victoria, 1849. Superintendent, Melbourne Botanic Gardens, 1849–57; curator of herbarium, 1857–61. Nurseryman, Prahran, Victoria. Collected plants in Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales for F. Mueller.
b. Morayshire, Scotland, c. 1805/08 (but possibly 1820); d. Vale of Herbert Station, Queensland, Australia, 4 June 1871
Born in the north of Scotland, Dallachy trained as a gardener at Haddo House, Scotland, home to the Earl of Aberdeen, himself a keen botanist. The first Director of Kew Gardens, William Hooker, visited Haddo House and Dallachy took the opportunity to apply to Kew. He was accepted and after his time at Kew returned to Haddo House as head gardener.
In 1847 Dallachy left to manage a coffee plantation in Ceylon (Sri Lanka), but in 1849 he moved on to Melbourne, Australia, where he was first employed as a gardener. In the same year he succeeded John Arthur as superintendent of the fledgling Melbourne Botanic Gardens. He was instrumental in having Ferdinand Mueller appointed as Government Botanist in 1852. In 1857 he became curator of the new herbarium at the Gardens, while Mueller’s role was enlarged to include the directorship. He left in 1861 to establish a nursery in Prahan, a suburb of Melbourne. However, he was a true botanist at heart and was attracted to exploration and plant collecting.
In Victoria, Dallachy collected at Mount Macedon, Mount Disappointment, Pentland Hills, The Grampians, Ovens Valley, Mount Buffalo, along the Murray River near Wentworth, the area of Sunraysia and the Darling River, among other areas. He sent both herbarium specimens and seeds to Mueller, and many plants subsequently grown in the Gardens were a result of Dallachy’s collecting expeditions. He also maintained his friendship with William Hooker, sending him plant specimens—often newly-discovered—for identification.
Late in 1863 he moved to Cardwell near Rockingham Bay, Queensland, and spent his remaining years as a collector, mainly for Mueller in Melbourne. Among the places that he explored were the Herbert and Stone Rivers, Stanley Plains, Hinchinbrook Island and the Mt Elphinstone Range.
Dallachy introduced a large number of Australian plants to science and horticulture. He is considered to have been perhaps the best early botanical collector employed by the Melbourne Botanic Gardens. The plants propagated in the Gardens formed a foundation of plantings in all major parks and gardens around Melbourne.
Dallachy died in his tent while collecting at Rockingham Bay in 1871.
He is commemorated in the name of the genus Dallachya (now Rhamnella, Rhamnaceae) and more than twenty Australian plant species, e.g. Acacia dallachiana, Austromyrtus dallachiana.
Desmond, R. (1994), Dictionary of British and Irish Botanists and Horticulturists, Taylor & Francis & The Natural History Museum, London.
George, A.S (2009), Australian Botanist’s Companion, p. 343, Four Gables Press, Kardinya, Australia.
Law-Smith, J. (1984), The Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne, Maud Gibson Trust in association with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne.
Morrison, Crosbie (ed.) (1946), Melbourne’s Garden, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne.
Pescott, R.T.M. (1982), The Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne: A History from 1845 to 1970, Oxford University Press, Melbourne.
Retired teacher Mark Smith of The Grammar School at Leeds (GSAL) has written an article for the 2016 issue of ‘Memento’, the school’s Memento magazine. Nearly seventy years on, he has re-surveyed Meanwood Marsh, previously mapped using string, pegs and a tape measure by late Kew Guild member and past-president F. Nigel Hepper in 1947 when studying at the school, then known as Leeds Grammar School.
Mark reports “The accuracy of Nigel Hepper’s original map was surprisingly good given the means he had to make it and, together with some impressive plant identification skills, indicates scientific attention to detail even at that early stage in his career. A record of ecological change has been possible due to the early enthusiasm of a Leeds Grammar School pupil.”
Nigel went on to apply these skills to his herbarium work and not least to his plant phenological recording in Leeds, Kew Gardens and at his home in Richmond, a body of work that is now of particular interest to Kew, Reading University and RHS Wisley.
In science, nothing properly written up goes to waste.
David Hepper (Nigel’s son)
Guild member Peter Bridgeman has written a delightful leaflet for the Farnham in Bloom scheme of Farnham Town Council, Surrey, published earlier this year. Available free of charge from the library and the Council offices, the Farnham Tree Trail Guide takes visitors around thirty two significant trees, all visible from public open space around the centre of town, with a photograph, English and scientific names, history and useful identification features. The leaflet unfolds to reveal a colour map of Farnham with each specimen clearly numbered as a station on the full walk.
I had thought of producing such a leaflet myself but Peter is much better qualified and the result is excellent. Of course, time will change the trees but a leaflet can always be updated.