Chief Executive's newsletter (Autumn 2011)
Welcome to autumn 2011. In this issue, we continue our series on ‘Plants that changed the World’. Ian Nex has written a fascinating article on Tea: a plant that I enjoy drinking at least five times every day! Wayne Williams and Christine Morris have searched our own Gardens here and found two more plants that have succeeded in covering large areas of the globe by building a successful partnership with man. We find Bamboo and Wheat useful in almost every aspect of our lives. Simon Gulliver highlights Sugar: another plant that uses its sweet taste to bribe us into cultivating huge acreages of this plant and to attract any other species with a sweet tooth.
We are cultivating our partnerships with a dazzling array of other plant species this autumn too, as the Gardens host Flower Shows of Dahlia, Cyclamen, Cacti and Orchids. Admission is free and society members offer a fund of knowledge, enthusiasm and free advice to all who visit. Our Charitable events include the Rotary Country Music Festival, our Fun Day and Gift Fair: all profits to local good causes. For the first time, we are offering children free admission and free family entertainment activities every day of the half term holiday. The Gardens are an unforgettable experience for all our younger visitors and a visit is one of the most memorable gifts you can give them.
In this quarter, we have said goodbye to Vernon Johnson who has looked after our plant sales area for the past decade. Vernon has answered the majority of our customers’ many and varied enquiries about every aspect of plant care and gardening and I always enjoyed reading his column on plant problems in this magazine. Vernon will be missed, but our Plant Collections Manager will continue to answer all horticultural enquiries received from members, not least because this is an important part of our work as an educational charity. Book a school visit or join a leisure learning class to find out more, today.
We will welcome four new students this September. One will be a modern apprentice: for the first time in recent years, we will be training a younger less experienced student over a two year period. Local young people interested in horticulture, take note! For a taste of the invaluable horticultural experience our studentship can offer, read Parting Thoughts in this newsletter. This year, three of our students will be continuing training at RHS Wisley: education never fails to open new doors.
The Shop at the Gardens is to undergo a major refit which will make a major improvement to your retail experience here at the Gardens. You can find more details on our fundraising page in this magazine and if you would like to help, we would love to hear from you. We are now stocking a new range of Joules Fashion clothing in the Shop. Pop in and try on something new today. Our Christmas Card is on the back cover of this newsletter. Buy your cards, gifts and back to school essentials from the Shop at the Gardens. All profits made on your purchases will be used to keep the Gardens open for you and future generations to enjoy.
As you will see from the Annual Accounts enclosed, the Gardens continue to survive in a very challenging economic environment. The Gardens will only flourish if we continue to offer you the level of service you expect. We are dedicated to providing you with an improved service and access to the Botanical Gardens wherever we can. One recent improvement is the Finch Flight in the Lawn Aviary Concourse, greatly appreciated by our birds. Should you have any suggestions on how we can improve our visitor experience in any area of our activities, we would like to hear from you.
Finally, don’t miss our Recommend a Friend offer on the inside cover of this Newsletter. A gift is always welcome and if you introduce a friend, we will give you a £5 Gift Voucher to spend in our Shop and the Gardens will give your friends a whole year of enjoyment. They might even meet Royalty as we did when HRH the Duchess of Cornwall visited recently! We all enjoyed her visit and she did too!
We look forward to seeing you here soon.
James Wheeler Chief Executive and Curator