Gardening Talks & Tours
Current talks are listed below. For more details on his rates and availability, please make contact.
Caradoc is sometimes available at short notice to cover for last minute cancellations.
Sir Harry & The Nurseries of James Veitch & Sons
Sir Harry James Veitch F.L.S. V.M.H. (1840-1924), was involved with the famous nursery dynasty of James Veitch & Sons' from an early age. During his lifetime, he witnessed the sending out of all of the twenty-three Veitch plant collectors. In fact he sent twelve of the explorers out himself under instruction to search out and return interesting plants for British gardens and greenhouses.
Many of these plants are still in our gardens today. Sir Harry was an extraordinary botanist, horticulturist and businessman and a generous supporter of gardening charities and the Royal Horticultural Society. In 1912 he played a leading role in securing the grounds of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea for the first International Horticultural Exhibition to be held in Britain since 1866, served on many committees and was knighted in the same year for his outstanding contribution to horticulture. The following year the RHS used the same venue for the first ever 'Chelsea Flower Show'.
This illustrated talk gives an overview of his horticultural achievements and highlights some of the special plants introduced by this remarkable firm.
Plant Hunters & Pioneers; The Story of the Veitch Nurseries of Exeter & Chelsea
You would be hard-pressed to find a garden in Britain that does not contain a 'Veitch' plant or one derived from their nurseries. This illustrated talk highlights some of the well-known and interesting plants introduced by this important firm. They were the first commercial nursery in Britain to sponsor their own plant collectors, returning many hundreds of new plants.
The Veitch Nurseries sent twenty-three collectors to many countries over a seventy-two year span which included William and Thomas Lobb, Richard Pearce, John Gould Veitch, Peter C. M. Veitch, Frederick Burbidge, Charles Maries, Charles Curtis, James H. Veitch, Ernest H. Wilson and William Purdom.
This talk comes in three versions. The standard version of this talk lasts about an hour, a longer lecture is available of about 2+ hours and an all day lecture can be offered consisting of a morning and afternoon lecture and is accompanied by a Veitch exhibtion.
The olive (Olea europaea), is a powerful 'Tree of Peace' and has long been associated with immortality, holding a special place throughout history for its strong symbolic and spiritual significance. In recent years, olives have gained in popularity in Britain as a garden plant but did you know that the oldest olive in Britain is now nearly 100 years old?
This talk recounts some of the stories attached to the olive through the ages, including its uses, symbolism and also advice on growing trees in Britain today.
The Story of Veitch Orchids: A Brief History
John Dominy created the world's first official orchid hybrid for Veitch in the 1850s before training John Seden another Foreman at the nursery, who then went on to create nearly 500 new orchid hybrids.
The complicated new plants crosses required carefully constructed new names and nearly drove the botanists insane as they tried to agree on them! In addition, a new flood of orchids were being found by many explorers including most of the 23 Veitch plant hunters. Harry Veitch was chairman of the RHS Orchid Committee for many years and the Nurseries of James Veitch & Sons were awarded hundreds of awards for their prize-winning orchids.
This illustrated talk attempts to summarise these remarkable achievements in a talk of just over an hour.
Charles Darwin & His Famous Plants
This talk was been prepared to mark the bi-centenary of Charles Darwin's birth. On the 27th December 1831 the Beagle set sail from Plymouth on what was to be one of the most important scientific voyages of the century. Charles Darwin (1809-1882), was to discover many new and important plants during this voyage (1831-1836), and this talk illustrates some of his most interesting botanical finds and stories and experiments connected to Darwin's plant discoveries.
William Lobb, The Plant Hunter
William Lobb (1809-1863), was an intrepid Cornish plant collector who was so successful in finding new plants that many gardens can boast of containing a 'Lobb plant'. He travelled widely in south and North America on behalf of the famous Exeter nurseries of James Veitch & Son.
Lobb's well-known introductions to Britain include fuchsias, escallonias, Berberis darwinii, Ceanothus, Fremondodendron, Lapageria rosea, Crinodendron, the Monkey Puzzle, (Aruacaria araucana, and many other conifers, most famously the highly controversial Wellingtonia, (Sequoiadendron giganteum).
Thomas Lobb, The Plant Hunter
Thomas Lobb (1818-1894), was the younger brother of William who also became one of the great plant collectors working for Veitch. He is credited with introducing many fine orchids and greenhouse plants including the Blue orchid (Vanda coerulea), hoyas, Wax plants, greenhouse rhododendrons and many other exceptional plants. He travelled extensively for many years in and out of difficult tropical countries in the Far East before retiring to his native Cornwall a virtual recluse.
This talk tells the story of this interesting but often ellusive character who brough us so many well-loved flowering plants.
Ernest 'Chinese' Wilson
Born in Chipping Campden, Gloucester, Ernest Henry Wilson (1876-1930) collected plants during several highly successful trips to China. His first two trips were on behalf of James Veitch & Sons, Chelsea before moving to America to work for the Arnold Arboretum in Massachusetts. His first trip to Central China was between 1899 and 1902 in search of the Pocket-handkerchief Tree, Davidia involucrata and secondly, in Western China from 1903 to 1905, principally for the Yellow Poppy, Meconopsis integrifolia.
On his first trip to China, Wilson discovered 400 new plants earning him the title of 'Chinese' Wilson. He went on to collect more plants in China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, India and Africa and by the end of his career he had discovered approximately 1,000 plants which were previously unknown. In 1930 he and his wife were tragically killed in a car accident in the U.S.
Charles Maries, The Plant Collector
Charles Maries (1850-1902) was from Warwickshire and introduced many well-known garden plants from his trip to Japan, China and Taiwan between 1877 to 1879. Many of his finds bear his name such as Abies mariesii, Davallia mariesii, Hydrangea macrophylla 'Mariesii', Platycodon grandiflorum 'Mariesii' and Viburnum plicatum 'Mariesii'.
The Lobb Brothers and their Famous Plants
These two intrepid Cornish collectors were so successful in finding new plants that most gardens or homes can boast of containing a 'Lobb plant'. William Lobb (1809-1863), travelled widely in South and North America, returning many well-known plants to Britain. These included the Monkey Puzzle, fuchsias, escallonias, Ceanothus, Embothrium, Lapageria, Crinodendron and later, many conifers, most famously the Wellingtonia (Sequoiadendron giganteum).
Thomas Lobb (1820-1894) collected plants in Singapore, Java, India, Malaya, Borneo and the Philippines for the new fashion of growing greenhouse plants. He was forced to return to England with a damaged leg which had to be amputated on the kitchen table. Following nearly 20 years of travelling, he was never to leave his home again.
Due to the quantity of material about the Lobb brothers, this talk can be given as a synopsis of them both or can be divided as a William Lobb or Thomas Lobb talk.
Richard Pearce, The Plant Collector
Plymouth-born Richard Pearce (unknown-1867) collected plants in South America including the lovely Azara microphylla, Eucryphia glutinosa, Hippeastrums and the gorgeous orchid Masdevallia veitchiana, for which he had to climb a 12,000ft mountain to find. Most importantly, was his discovery of the tuberous begonia, Begonia bolivienesis from which trailing begonias were established. This talk is illustrated with many of his other interesting finds from Chile, Patagonia, Peru and Bolivia.
John Gould Veitch, The Plant Collector
In 1861, John Gould Veitch (1839-1870) became the first Western plant collector to be allowed into Japan. Although his movements were strictly controlled, he was still able to discover many new garden plants including Japanese Maples, lilies, and attractive conifers which were received in Britain to great excitement. Later he collected more interesting plants from Japan, the Philippine Islands, Australia and South Sea Islands before an early death in 1870 from tuberculosis, aged only 31.