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Kewite-mail June 2023

News / 21st Sept 2023
The Newsletter of the Kew Guild President
Members at the 2023 AGM

Dear Kewites and friends, I write to you all to give you an update on the next year and plans moving ahead, as outlined in the recent AGM. There is a great deal going on within the Guild, the home for all horticulturalists and scientists connected through the spirit of Kew, and we are certainly not standing still, but before I get into other news, I have first some exciting very exciting news for Kew Guild Members.

The Kew Guild links with the Royal Horticultural Society

As you may be aware, as a Kew Guild member your benefits include receiving free access to Kew Gardens, Wakehurst Place and Ventnor Botanic Gardens on the Isle of Wight.

However, we are now in a position to add to this and as from Monday September 18th 2023, your Kew Guild Card will also now gain you free access into all 5 RHS Gardens, Wisley, Rosemoor, Harlow Carr, Hyde Hall and Bridgewater. This is the 1st phase of a key development and partnership with the RHS.

The Second phase (we are aiming from 1st March 2024)  will then be rolled out, when members of the Kew Guild will be sent one free annual Individual Membership package to the RHS. This package includes:

Membership benefits

  • RHS Gardens. Unlimited entry to our 5 RHS Gardens for the member and a family guest or 2 children
  • Partner Gardens. Free entry to over 200 Partner Gardens for the member only
  • Savings. Reduced rate tickets to RHS Flower Shows, gardening workshops and family friendly events- there's plenty to enjoy all year round.
  • The Garden Magazine on-line. Monthly inspirational advice and news accessed digitally for Kew Guild Members.
  • Gardening Advice Unlimited, personalised RHS gardening advice from our experts, to answer your gardening questions.
  • RHS The Garden App giving you easy access to tips and advice, the monthly magazine, member handbook and more.


It has not been a smooth or easy offer to deliver on, one challenge has been that many of you already have an existing RHS Membership. This is the reason why the offer has been rolled out in two parts. For those that remain as Kew Guild members and renew in January 2024 the free RHS Individual Membership from March 2024 will then supersede any existing membership you may already have. The RHS cannot reimburse you for any remaining existing membership, but this new free offer, will I am sure be welcome news. If you wish to upgrade to a Family Membership with the RHS, then once you have received your new membership details, please contact the RHS directly.

We are obviously delighted with this news and I would like to take this opportunity to thank the RHS Director General, Clare Matterson, Tim Upson (Director of Horticulture and Gardens) and Martine Parnell (Director of Members, Marketing and Digital) for their support in making this happen.

The Kew Guild 2023/24

So what else does the year ahead bring for us?

I believe that the Kew Guild is now at a pivotal moment in delivering new directions and tackling the many challenges it has come to face. I do not propose that over the next year we can fix and deliver all of the needs the charity has, but on the back of the great work of previous Presidents and the continued hard work of trustees, we have real great opportunity, with a strong direction and purpose in continuing to:

  • Re-engage with the student body
  • Promote Kew Guild charitable work
  • Increase membership
  • Raise income
  • Reassess the Annual Dinner
  • Discuss names and addresses in the Journal and our GDPR responsibility

Running alongside this we still have our five key programme areas to help assist and continue to develop our work, not only supporting Kew and (other organisations) but also supporting our members. The key programmes are:

  • Education
  • Kew Guild Awards
  • Membership (with particular reference to Alumni and Fellowship)
  • Communications and Promotion
  • Financial Capacity and Governance

So we have engaged with many first steps and I would like to see us continue this good baseline work that we have achieved so far, which includes:

The Re-engagement with the Student Body:

Where we have begun with work, undertaken by two trustees in particular, Silke Strickrodt and Brita von Schoenaich, on engaging and linking with the student body. There is also special thanks to Chris Kidd and Richard Barley for their personal contribution in assisting students to attend the Kew Annual Dinner back in May.

Promote Kew Guild charitable work

We have a new website (thanks to Maxine Briggs, trustee).
A pivotal landmark and our first step to move into an arena where we can update and communicate the good work of the guild. It won’t stop there and we know we need the social media face as well, but also continue with the journal and special thanks to Ros Whistance for picking up and delivering on the Kew Guild journal this year, so vital as part of the Guild.

Increasing membership

We have more to do in this area, but also we need your support and ask you to be ambassadors for the Kew Guild. And do not forget, we have a great offer this year in that if you introduce a member, you will get your membership for free. Now that can’t be a bad deal!

Also, the Kew Guild, as a charity, and with it our membership, we know we have to build strongly the bridge between us. What does membership of the Kew Guild mean for members? What is it that we do? The trustees, through Maxine Briggs will be engaging with this and much more to get to the route of what is the Kew Guild about and what does that mean for becoming a member. We have done some great work already, the fact that we have already dedicated and see ourselves as an alumni for Kew and I firmly believe that we need to engage, encourage and promote that, and it will be an ambition over the coming year.

Raising income

Finally, I hope that we can look strongly at this over the next year so that we can seriously look at fundraising opportunities for the Guild. We need to do this as part of continuing the good charitable work of the guild.

So I think that is about it for now. I do hope you like the directions we are taking, but do remember we cannot do this without you, so please, do try and see if you can help us to become stronger.

With best wishes for a great autumn.

Rob Brett, President.

The Kew Guild AGM 2023

The AGM was held in the Lady Lisa Sainsbury Lecture Theatre on Saturday 9th September – the hottest day of the year! The meeting went well, with a few technical problems for those trying to join remotely.

The memorial bench to Graham Heywood was unveiled by the pond outside the School of Horticulture. It was a humble occasion and Graham was remembered fondly by our Past President, Chris Kidd.

The minutes of the AGM are being prepared and will be distributed to members in the coming week. There will also be a summary on the web site.

Eira Haywood pictured here with her two sons, Julian and Lee.

If anyone has any photos of the AGM day they wish to share on our web site, please contact Sara.

Electronic mailings

Unfortunately we have had some technical problems. We have moved our database to a new, more secure server, but it seems the mailings part of this is not working correctly. An email was sent prior to the AGM, and the few members who received this ended up with multiple copies where the system kept restarting. I do apologise for this. I hope that this newsletter will get through to everyone without any problems. Please let me know if you get multiple copies.

Student graduation

Svenja Jührend (left) was awarded the Kew Guild Individual Study Prize, Francesco Gorni (Second left) awarded the Matilda Smith Memorial Prize, Robert Brett (President of the Kew Guild) and Hattie Moore (right) was awarded the Dummer Memorial Prize.

Photo: RBG, Kew/Paul Little

The winner of the George Brown Prize (the top student in temperate collections) was Lewis Barrett who was unable to attend.


The Guild has not held any events since the trip to Ireland post-Covid. We do not have a volunteer to oversee events, but we would welcome anyone who would like to host members to their part of the world. Please contact Sara with any suggestions or ideas.

News of Kewites

Yoke van der Meer

As some of you are aware from the last Kew Guild Journal I’ve been passionately working on a Virtual Ethnobotanical Garden in the shape of a blog going through all the Native Plant families in the British Isles according to Stace. I’ve started this in 2018 on a WordPress Social Platform. It is a huge task but it is a great way of learning more about all the uses of all these wonderful weeds we got! This is the link to a page of all the Plant Families I intend to write about and have written about if it has a link already.

This idea came through my time spent at The Ethnobotanical garden in Oaxaca, Mexico, which I think is the very rare example of such a garden in the world! Why oh why don’t we celebrate our own plants more?

I am very keen to carry on with my research and blog and perhaps even use the knowledge for a real Ethnobotanical garden at some point?

However the work gets harder and motivation lower as I am not a very technical minded person and rubbish in advertising this blog so more people can read it! It also cost of course to keep the blog running. Is there anybody technical and like-minded to help me carry on? Even the editing of it is a constant work as I like to make it easier for people to read and navigate! I am at present updating all the posts with ‘jump-links’ for example and always find that there are even more genera to write about. Also like to include more pictures.

If you or if you know anybody who would be able to help, especially with the technical and promotion of the site could you please get in touch with me? Many thanks, (Ms.) Yoke van der Meer,

Alex George

Alex has written a new book: The Australian Botanical Liaison Officer scheme at Kew, 1937-2009.

From 1937 to 2009 the Australian Federal, State and Territory Governments, jointly, stationed a succession of botanists at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Their role was twofold: first, to service inquiries from Australia for information from the vast collections of plant specimens, literature and archives, information not readily accessible here but essential for research on the Australian flora; second, to conduct research on their own special areas of interest.

Fifty-two botanists spent terms averaging a year at Kew (one twice), with visits to other herbaria in Britain and on the Continent. The information gathered supported immeasurably the quality of thousands of scientific books and papers. Further, by updating the nomenclature on specimens (often unchanged since the 19th century), they improved the standard of collections both in the herbaria visited and in Australian herbaria. They formed associations with foreign botanists that often continued in their later careers.

Much history is bound up in the scheme, in the people who held the post, in the progress of Australian systematic botany, and in the progress of Kew itself.

The book contains an essay on the history of the scheme, and an essay on each person who held the post. It is illustrated with photographs of each ABLO, of staff at Kew, and of many aspects of Kew and other herbaria.

362 pages, A4 landscape format ;

Price £45 plus postage

Published by Four Gables Press, Kardinya, Western Australia

Available from Alex George,

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