On Wednesday 27th May Harry Townsend gave a very interesting and humorous talk on Kew Gardens. Mr Townsend told us that plants are his passion and he is a former assistant curator at Kew Gardens.
He said that Kew wasn’t the oldest botanical garden but one in Padua, Italy was the oldest. Kew Gardens is made up of two estates - one that belonged to George II and his wife Caroline and the other to his son Frederick, Prince of Wales. The gardens were created in 1759, Lord Bute being the scientific adviser and William Chambers the architect.
Kew became the Royal Country Estate of George III and Charlotte and their 17 children! Sir Joseph Banks was head of the botanic garden and plant researchers travelled all over the world bringing back new plant species.
After the deaths of George III and Sir Joseph Banks, both in 1820, the gardens fell into a state of neglect. Royal permission was given in 1837 to restore the gardens and William Hooker was bought in as the first director.
Mr Townsend showed us lots of colour slides, one showing an original tree from 1759, although it was held up with props.
In 1982 the Temperate House was falling into disrepair so to raise money for its refurbishment a series of promenade concerts was arranged with Yehudi Menuhin, Ronnie Scott and Humphrey Lyttleton among others making appearances.
Mr Townsend gave us all a very personal insight to the workings of Kew Gardens and we all enjoyed the evening. A vote of thanks was given by Mary Williams who said she hadn’t been to Kew for many years and the talk had inspired her to go again. She remembered in the 1960s her husband, who was a prison officer, supervising prisoner working parties at the gardens.
The Club’s next meeting is on Wednesday 24th June when Annlyn Boyes will give a talk entitled ‘Sir William Hartnell’. Anyone wishing to attend will be most welcome. Meetings begin at 7.30pm at Little Common Community Centre, Shepherd’s Close, Little Common. Call 843337 for further details.