Terrific news from my favourite Botanic Garden - and not just because it's my local one - the new head of the Cambridge Botanic Garden is a woman - Dr Beverley Glover. Here's what they had to say about her appointment:
Dr Beverley Glover has been named as the new Director of Cambridge University Botanic Garden. Dr Glover will take up the post, and the associated Professorship of Plant Systematics and Evolution to which she has been elected, in July 2013.
Dr Glover, currently Reader in Evolution and Development in the Department of Plant Sciences, said: “The Botanic Garden is a central and much-loved part of both the University and the wider community. It is a great privilege and honour to be asked to lead its continued development.
“I am very much looking forward to working with the Garden's highly-skilled and dedicated staff to develop further the collections and to ensure they play their full part in botanical research and teaching, both in the University and worldwide.”
Dr Glover read Plant and Environmental Biology at St Andrews before completing her PhD at the John Innes Centre in the molecular genetics of cellular differentiation in the plant epidermis. She came to Cambridge first as a Junior Research Fellow at Queens' College, before progressing from Lecturer to Reader in the Department of Plant Sciences. A Fellow of the Linnean Society, she was awarded the Linnean Society Bicentennial Medal in 2010 and she received the William Bate Hardy prize from the Cambridge Philosophical Society in 2011.
Professor Keith Richards, Chair of the Botanic Garden Syndicate, said: “We are delighted that Beverley will be the new Director of the University's Botanic Garden. She is well-known to everyone in the Garden, having served on the Syndicate for ten years, and has already made many highly-valued contributions to its outreach programme and to its integration into University teaching.
“Beverley’s own interdisciplinary work will help to strengthen the Garden's research role and build on the relationships between the Garden, the Department of Plant Sciences, the Sainsbury Laboratory, and the Cambridge Conservation Initiative.”
Getting very excited about the opening later this week of the new exhibition at The Garden Museum, Floriculture: Flowers, Love and Money. It's about time that the story of floristry, the 'Cinderella' trade of the horticultural industry, was told. It opens, naturally, on Thursday 14 February, the biggest day of the year for the trade, and runs until 28 April 2013.
Here's what they say we can expect:
"Next Valentine's Day the Garden Museum will open the first exhibition to tell the story of the cut flower trade from the 17th century until today. The exhibition will also explore the inspiration of cut flowers to painters, and to the art of floristry, and their symbolism in rites of passage such as marriage, funerals, and memory.
The exhibition begins in 17th century Covent Garden: the square built by The Earl of Bedford contained a market for fruit and vegetables. Covent Garden continues to be the heart of the flower trade, whether represented by the Floral Hall, illustrations by Edward Bawden, or iconic films such as Lindsey Anderson's Everyday Excerpt Christmas, from the 1950's. The stall-holders, in their current location in Nine Elms, will be the subject of an artist's commission as we seek to record their stories of life at the Flower Market.
Until the 19th century, the wholesale trade in flowers was local, small in scale, and existed alongside allotments and Head Gardeners' cutting gardens and displays in the great house. This slowly evolved, with, in the 1880s growers of snowdrops and daffodils in Spalding, Lincolnshire, racing to supply London markets by train; by 1929 this had increased to 20 tonnes a day. In 1940, 4 million bulbs were shipped to America as payment for arms.
The world's flower trade has increased from £1.8 billion in the 1950s to in excess of £64 billion today. After trains came planes: in 1969 the first air freighted flowers flew to the United States from Colombia. However, the globalised trade has attracted increasing controversy over its environmental impact, and allegations of exploitation of vulnerable workforces.
The exhibition will explain each side of the debate – including the new movement for "Fair Trade in flowers" – but will also be a celebration of the domestic growers, an industry which has all but vanished but may be revived by a new generation of eco -aware, creative growers.
The exhibition will follow the growth of the retail industry, from florists' shops to supermarkets; in 1979 Marks and Spencer– which had sold plants since the 1920s – first experimented with the sale of cut flowers and quickly grew to be a significant force in the modern marketplace.
Earlier in the century, Gertrude Jekyll and Constance Spry established floristry as an art form and a profession. The exhibition will pick out iconic weddings which have transformed taste, such as the 1961 marriage of The Duke and Duchess of Kent in York Minster or that of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2012 – masterminded by Shane Connolly, whose ideas in floral design the show will explore.
The exhibition will look at the relationship between artists and cut flowers, through works by artists such as Stanley Spencer's view of his cutting garden at Cookham, Duncan Grant's still-lives and glimpses of the garden path at Charleston, and Cedric Morris's masterful studies of irises. The paintings selected will capture the fragile beauty of flowers from their gardens.
Finally, we shall explore the place the beauty and quick mortality of cut flowers play in rites of life and death: marriage, funerals, and memorial shrines."
It's no secret that I live mainly in Suffolk and love East Anglia so I was delighted to hear of a new exhibit at a museum I'd never been to - The Museum of East Anglian Life. Tucked away behind a supermarket in the mid-Suffolk town of Stowmarket (not as bad as it sounds - handy for parking!) is the delightful Abbot's Hall, a small estate that has been given to the people of East Anglia to preserve their heritage.
As part of their Heritage Lottery funding redevelopment of Abbot’s Hall – a grade 2* listed Queen Anne House – they have focussed one of their exhibition rooms on gardening in East Anglia.
The space has been titled ‘How does your garden grow’ and touches on the types of garden in East Anglia, links between farming and gardening on the local landscape, and the benefits of gardening to wellbeing.
One of their key displays relates to people that form the ‘East Anglian Inspiration’ in the garden. I was particularly delighted to see that this included objects relating toten-times gold medal winner Beth Chatto, Xa Tollemache of Helmingham Hall and countrywoman, Peggy Cole, all of course, great Gardening Women.
There's also a wall covered in extra large plant labels where visitors are encouraged to write about what gardening means to them.
You can hear me talking about 'Gardening Women' on BBC Radio Suffolk together with the terrific Georgina Wroe! Follow link : http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/player/p00v0w2x and fast forward to 2:34:00. (This link will expire on 19 July 2012.)
The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has announced the recipients of its prestigious awards for outstanding contribution to horticulture. This year there are four recipients for the Victoria Medal of Honour (VMH). This is the highest accolade the Society awards. Only 63 horticulturists hold the VMH at one time, marking the length of Queen Victoria's reign. This year, the awards were given to three men and Viscountess of Merton, Alice Boyd from Cornwall who receives the award for the following citation:
'As an Honorary Fellow of the RHS Lady Boyd has given exemplary service to the charity for many years. She has served on a number of committees and was on the RHS Council for 10 years. She was also President of the Cornwall Gardens Society between 2007 and 2009.'
"I am delighted to announce the recipients of the Victoria Medal of Honour which was established in 1897 in remembrance of Queen Victoria," says Elizabeth Banks, RHS President. "These are very special people and their contribution to horticulture has been outstanding. Their work has been wide-ranging and impacts on most aspects of gardening and is an inspiration to everyone."
The charity has also announced the Veitch Memorial Awardees This Award is given to those who it is felt have made outstanding contributions to the advancement of the art, science and practice of horticulture. There are five recipients this year. They include Susyn Andrews from Richmond, Surrey.
Andrews, recently of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, is a world-leading horticultural taxonomist and was the co-founder and Chairman of the Horticultural Taxonomy Group. She has published over 150 scientific papers and articles, was the senior editor of Taxonomy of Cultivated Plants (1999), has sat on the ISHS Commission for Nomenclature and Registration, is an Honorary Research Associate at Kew, and currently serves on several scientific and horticultural committees. An enthusiastic gardener, her main interests are temperate and subtropical woody plants and her passion for lavenders stretches back 15 years.
Phew! Gardening Women has crossed the Big Pond safely and become Women and Their Gardens. Not only that, it's being welcomed widely. In fact it's earned a four-gherkin rating ('Good, innit?') on the Anglo Addict blog - thank you so much! Here is a selection of its US reviews:
Women and Their Gardens was featured with cover image on April 14, 2012 on “The Garden Bench” (blog). The blogger writes, “Focusing on the fact of history that women have often been excluded from the serious study of plants, Horwood brings these women into their rightful place in the horticultural spotlight. At more than 400 pages, there is much to be discovered about these pioneering women.” To read the article:http://thegardenbench.wordpress.com/2012/04/14/mulching-trees-and-a-stack-of-new-books/
Women and Their Gardens was positively reviewed with cover image on April 11, 2012 on the blog Anglo Addict. They call it, “[a] lovely book … it is fascinating (and sometimes maddening) to read of how many women became involved in gardening, whether it was through being banished to the country by harsh spouses, needing to earn an income, or, occasionally, because they had the time and means to indulge their passions.” To read the review: http://www.angloaddict.com/2012/04/women-plowing-through-history.html
Recently I was asked by someone who lives near me in Suffolk if I had heard of a 'gardening woman' called Margaret Loch- I hadn't but I am intrigued and would love to know more especially about her involvement with camellias and Kew.
Here's what I have been told about this very grand lady:
"She was a niece of [Edwin] Lutyens and he laid out the walled garden at Stoke College [Stoke-by-Clare, Suffolk] for her. She was also on the board at Kew for a time and one of her gardeners from Stoke, William Bly, became head gardener at Kew for a while. I worked in the garden for a while ( 3 months) back in 1995 for the school but since I was the only gardener in a garden that used to have 5 or 6 gardeners and anyway spent most of the time cutting grass , I left. The walled garden with several varieties of espalliered fruit trees and vegetable beds was in a poor state and the remains of a knot garden that she designed was on its last legs. The topiary in it was in the shape of mice - her nickname was "Mouse" apparently. Other parts of the garden had given way to grass and wilderness.
'The College has in its possession a couple of her note books which they let me look at while I was there. She was something of a pioneer I gather and started a collection of trees in the front of the house running down to the river. There was a greenhouse with a large vine growing in it and another smaller one with a huge Camellia in it while I was there. I don't know if they survive. It was sad to have to leave such a beautiful place..."
I was so sorry to hear of the death of Pearl Sulman two weeks ago.
Pearl was best known for her miniature Pelargoniums which she showed across the country winning an astounding fifty-two RHS Gold Medals including seven awarded at the Chelsea Flower Show and the society’s Anthony Huxley Trophy for their pelargoniums at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show in 2009. During the summer months Pearl and Brian spent all their time travelling across the country exhibiting at Flower Shows including Malvern, Harrogate, Gardeners World Live and of course Chelsea. Pearl was born into the Woollard family of Mildenhall, Suffolk, and her father Arthur was a well known and respected Nurseryman. Pearl and her husband Brian were later to take on his business.
Speaking to the Cambridge News, Brian Sulman said, 'We were both involved in horticulture all our working lives and even previous to that because Pearl was born and brought up on her father’s nursery, so we both have had a constant love of gardening and horticulture.'
'I think it was the love of beautiful flowers and the fact that when you sow seeds or take cuttings, you never know whether they are going to grow or not, and the joy you get when they do get to flower.'
At their peak, the couple, from Mildenhall, did about 30 shows a year. They did their last in 2010 before selling the last of their stock last July.
Mr Sulman said his wife was special and had been well-known in Mildenhall. The support from across the community had been fantastic, he said.
Cards and telephone calls have also been pouring in from fellow flower show exhibitors.
Hooray! All is not lost in the UK for anyone wanting to study Garden History academically despite the closure of excellent courses such as that at Birkbeck, University of London. Now the University of Buckingham is launching an MA in Garden History:
It's to be based in London and the course director is Professor Timothy Mowl. He is best known for his work on William Kent and male professional landscape gardeners (see his book, Gentleman & Players: Gardeners of the English Landscape). The course will feature guest lecturers who next year will include Sir Roy Strong and Anna Pavord.
This site is dedicated to women who garden past and present. Here you will find updates on famous and little-known gardening women from the past, some of whose stories appear in my book, Gardening Women, and some who don't - because there just wasn't room to get them all in. So please send me your ideas on inspiration gardening women so they can be included as well.
And as a gardener myself, I won't be able to resist writing about some of my own favourite gardens and plants as I work away on my new garden in Suffolk and high in the sky on my roof garden in London.