Director of University of Oxford Botanic Garden to give horticulture lecture

February 2014

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(NOTE: This is an archived press release.)

The director of the University of Oxford Botanic Garden and Harcourt Arboretum will be giving the next horticulture lecture at Writtle College.

Timothy Walker will visit the College next Tuesday (4 March) and will speak about the role of the botanic gardens in plant conservation in the penultimate talk in this year’s James Hearsum Lecture Series.

Timothy joined the University of Oxford Botanic Garden in 1980 as a trainee gardener and he is currently the Director or Horti Praefectus.

He said: “My post involves a mixture of teaching, administration, begging and curating the NCCPG (National Council for the Conservation of Plants and Gardens) national collection of euphorbias but no gardening - this happens at weekends in my wife’s garden if allowed.

“It will be lovely to return to East Anglia because Essex is the homeland of my maternal genes and it seems that horticultural hearts beat just a bit harder east of the M11.”

Between 1992 and 2000 the University of Oxford Botanic Garden and Harcourt Arboretum won four gold, two silver-gilt, and one silver medal at the Chelsea Flower Show London. In 2009 it was one of seven Oxford collections to be awarded a Queen’s Anniversary Prize. The University’s museums, libraries and archives are an exceptional resource, accessed by more than two million people each year. Some of its horticultural resources are being taken out to schools, shopping centres and other public places in the area, in an educational programme involving seven institutions.

Three years ago, Timothy - a lecturer in Plant Conservation at Somerville College Oxford and Pembroke College Oxford and a Fellow of the Linnaean Society of London - presented a three-part televisual history of Botany on BBC4. He has visited Sweden, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Canary Islands, Turkey, Sri Lanka, China, Japan, Australia, Seychelles, South Africa, Canada and America in search of plants growing in their habitats.

Brainchild of former horticulture student James Hearsum, the comprehensive, illustrated lecture series is now in its ninth year. The series will close with Troy Scott-Smith, Head Gardener at Sissinghurst Castle, Kent, who will talk about his first year in post, on Tuesday 6 May.

Organised by Greg Allen, Senior Lecturer in Landscape Studies at the College with a team of first, second and third year students, all the proceeds of the lecture series go to the Writtle College Students’ Union and are used to provide travel bursaries to some of the most important gardens.

All the lectures in the series - entitled Plants, People and Places - start at 7.30pm in the Northumberland Lecture Theatre at the College. Tickets and further details are available from the Writtle College Students’ Union or via Greg Allen on 01245 424200 or

Timothy will bring signed copies of his new book on plant conservation for sale at £15 to his lecture.