Tiny grew up in a pair of caravans his father made out of a crashed aeroplane with a trowel in his hand! Here Tiny introduces us to an incredible cast of characters he met at the Botanic Garden when here in 1970-71 on his sandwich year from Writtle College, where he was studying on the first Ordinary National Diploma intake.
Six years studying for the National Diploma in Horticulture was not enough for David and his friend and colleague, Mike Pollock. They added on two years at the CUBG as student gardeners at the end of the 1950s. A properly thorough training.
Keith came to the Garden as a junior student for two years from 1968. He caught the propagating bug from Norman Villis which propelled him to start his own propagation and garden centre business.
Phil joined the Garden in 1949 having been turned on to botanic collections by a year at RHS Wisley through the ex-servicemen's training scheme. He talks to Head of Horticulture, Sally Petitt, about his 20 years at the Garden.
Tony was the architect at the University's Estate Management and Building Service who designed and project managed the construction of the central steel palm house, which replaced the original teak structure in 1989. He recalls the complexities of the construction, the demanding specification and the day the Duke of Edinburgh came to open the new structure. Tony also shares the glamorous badger dropping date he treated his future wife to, then a horticultural student at the Garden!
David Way came to the Garden as a 'journeyman' for 18 months in 1948. He remembers the fear of letting the coke-fuelled fire that heated the Glasshouse Range go out on his shift, the recent mechanisation of mowing, and have the Garden to himself after hours.
Norman came to the Botanic Garden in the mid 1950s after being encouraged to improve his plant knowledge by colleagues at the Ealing Parks Department. He retired over 40 years later as Superintendent, but still reckons Propagator was the best job going at the Garden.
Dropping out of school at the age of 16, Allen Paterson was taken on as an improver at the Garden in January 1949. Suddenly, though all was not light and joy, the world seemed to open. He progressed to RBG Kew and began a treaching career before taking up the Curatorship of the Chelsea Physic Garden. This led across the pond to the Directorship of Royal Botanical Gardens in Canada.
Bob came to train at the Garden from 1965-67 . He enjoyed planting references to the Cambridge University Botanic Garden wherever his long and distinguished career in public parks took him!
Jim Gardiner has enjoyed a long career with the Royal Horticultural Society, serving as Curator and Chief Curator at the Society's flagship garden at Wisley for over twenty years before taking up an ambassadorial role as the Society's Executive Vice President. Jim came to the Botanic Garden as a middle year horticultural student from Askham Bryan College in the early 1970s
Peter grew up in Cambridge – his father was Head Gardener at St John’s College. He joined the Garden as a horticultural student in the early 1950s. Peter sent on to follow a long and distinguished career in education, becoming Senior Lecturer in Landscape Management at the University of Bath where he designed undergraduate and postgraduate courses that gave new insights and deeper understanding of the connections between people, plants and landscape. He was presenter of the BBC’s Victorian Kitchen Garden television series and Horticultural Director for the Eden Project. Peter is the author of many books, most recently Cultivar: a history of man-made plants.
Roy Lancaster began his horticultural training at Bolton Parks before coming as a horticultural student to the Botanic Garden. Roy then went on to become the first Curator of the Hillier Arboretum, now the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens. He has travelled the world on plant finding expeditions but is also busy in the UK. A member of the Royal Horticultural Society for almost 40 years, Roy is vice-chairman of the society's Floral Committee B, and is also President of the Hardy Plant Society, a UK-based horticultural society that fosters interest in hardy herbaceous plants. In 1988 he was awarded the Victoria Medal of Honour by the RHS and was made an OBE in the 1999 New Year Honours for services to horticulture.
Sally joined the Botanic Garden aged 17 straight from school as a horticultural trainee. 25 years later, she is now our Head of Horticulture, and reflects on some of the changes she has instigated and witnessed.
Dr Sheila Shinman visited the Garden as a schoolgirl with her mother, a keen gardener. A chance encounter with Mr Preston, Superintendent, resulted in Sheila weeding and working at the Garden during the Second World War, when many staff had been called up to serve.
Martin Walters and his siblings grew up at the Garden. He remembers the joys and inspirations of having the Garden to play in after hours. He recalls the constant stream of international botanists coming to stay; first at 1 Brookside, and then at Cory Lodge where the family moved when their father, Dr Max Walters, became Director of the Garden in 1973.
Racconteur extraordinaire, Steve came as a middle-year student from Askham Bryan to join the Garden's horticultural training scheme in 1976, the year of record-breaking summer temperatures. He recalls the effects of the drought on the Garden, the lure of the Panton Tap, Christmas carolling and much more. Still an avid plantsman and collector, Steve now holds the National Collections of Agapanthus and Tulbaghia.