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contents Spring 2009

Page 52

Page 58

features

16KEW’S 250 TH ANNIVERSARY Why do we need botanic gardens? Sara Oldfield explores the vital and diverse work ofbotanic gardens across the world

22KEW’S 250 TH ANNIVERSARY A–Z ofKew An alphabet of fascinating facts from the 250 eventful years of Kew’s history

30EXPEDITION Good morning,Vietnam GailVines reports on Kew’s latest trip to Vietnam to help assess and conserve the rich flora

36ALL IN A DAY’S WORK The fine art ofrestoration Ambra Edwards reveals the meticulous work involved in restoring Kew’s collection of Marianne North paintings

42PROFILE Leading the hunt Gail Vines delves into the Darwin Treasure Chest with Kew’s Angela McFarlane

44KEW’S 250 TH ANNIVERSARY Search and rescue Carolyn Fry traces the history of plant hunting and its current role in conservation

46KEW’S GARDENS Switched on to bulbs Richard Wilford spotlights the succession ofglorious bulbs in Kew’s Woodland Garden

52FIELD WORK Beneath the trees Kew student Emma Crawforth sheds light on the understorey plants of Oregon’s conifer forests

58PLANT SCIENCE Solving Darwin’s abominable mystery William Chaloner and Peter Crane examine the rise to dominance of flowering plants

Page 36

Page 22

Page 30 IMAGES:JEAN POSTLE, E MA CRAWFORTH, R ICHARD

WILFORD, R BG KEW/PAUL LITTLE/ANDREW McROB

Cover The Palm House by Jeff Eden

regulars

3Editor’s letter A welcome from the editor

4Kew news The latest from all Kew’s gardens, including Friends’ news

9Direction The director reflects on Kew’s past successes and dynamic future

12Cuttings Around-up of plant science news

50Now and then Comparing the role of Kew’s curators over the last 250 years

61Kew plants Banksiaand its Kew connection

63Treasures ofKew The history of Kew’s Orangery

67Events Lots to do this spring at Kew and Wakehurst Place

Page 61

editor’s letter

On a bright and blustery spring day at Kew, as I stroll through the most biodiverse 300 acres in Britain, I can’t help but reflect on all the historic events and amazing characters that have made this World Heritage site what it is today. Over the centuries, this area has been greatly favoured by royalty, but it wasn’t until George II and Queen Caroline came to Richmond Lodge that gardening began here in earnest. And it was their son, Prince Frederick, and his wife Princess Augusta, who were to push Kew forward as a garden ofbotanical renown. It’s thanks to them, and all the intrepid collectors who have sent plants from every corner of the globe, that Kew is a botanic garden with a worldwide reputation.

Throughout 2009, Kew is celebrating its history, current work and plans for the future, and there will be a fantastic programme of events and displays to enjoy (see page 67). Although still in touch with its roots, Kew has changed a great deal since it was founded 250 years ago – it now collects, researches, stores and shares knowledge for the benefit of everyone, in a world that faces an uncertain environmental future.

As you may have noticed, this issue is bigger than ever, with plenty of special features in honour ofKew’s 250th anniversary. You can delve intoKew’s history(page 22), take a look at why botanic gardens are important to us all (page 16), and go behind the scenes to see how Kew’s botanical art heritage is being restored (page 36). We also join an expedition to Vietnam (page 30), and revel in the beauty of Kew’s plants (page 46 and61) and historic buildings (page 63). Ihope this gives you good reason to visit Kew and Wakehurst this spring and help support Kew’s vital work worldwide.

Page 63

CHRISTINA HARRISON Editor

Kewmagazine is published by the Royal Botanic Gardens,Kew, which works around the world to save plants, fungi and their habitats. With your support,Kew can make a real difference.

KEW Spring 2009 l 3