Phil joined the Garden in 1949, having become intrigued by Botanic collections after a year at RHS Wisley through an ex-serviceman’s training scheme. He talks to Head of Horticulture, Sally Petitt about his 20 years at the Garden, from Propagator to Foreman.
The Gilmour Sisters
Carolyn, Nicky and Clare grew up in the Garden, as the daughters of the Director, John Gilmour and his wife, Molly. They recall the fun to be had in the Garden after hours, the musical Glee Club, the stream of visiting international botanists & the social life of the Garden’s community.
Sally joined the Garden aged 17, straight from school, as a horticultural trainee. Twenty-five years later, she is our Head of Horticulture, and reflects on some of the changes she has instigated and witnessed during her time at the Garden.
Sheila visited the Garden as a schoolgirl with her mother, a keen gardener. A chance encounter with Mr Preston, the Garden Superintendent, resulted in Sheila working at the Garden during the Second World War when many staff had been called up to serve.
Tony was the architect 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 Duke of Edinburgh coming to the Opening.
From his teenage years ‘digging for victory’ to life as a ‘Journeyman Gardener’ in the Garden, Peter started in the Medicinal Garden in 1950, before spending his life working in orchards, returning to the Garden as an expert for Apple Day.
Norman came to the Botanic Garden in the mid-1950s after being encouraged to improve his plant knowledge by colleagues at Ealing Parks Department. He recalls how Cory funding was central to the development of the eastern section of the Garden. He retired over 40 years later and believes that every city should have a botanic garden.
Martin and his siblings grew up at the Garden. He remembers the joy and inspiration 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.
David came to the Garden as a ‘Journeyman Gardener’ 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 having the Garden to himself after hours.