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Meet Kew's Tropical Nursery horticulturists

Nick Johnson & Sam Crosfield
19 August 2010
Blog team: 
Find out more about what goes on behind the scenes in the Tropical Nursery at Kew.

Welcome to Kew’s Tropical Nursery blog. 

My name is Nick Johnson and I manage one of the four teams that work in this huge nursery, which has the largest roof span in Kew. With the help of my colleague, Sam Crosfield, we will regularly be bringing you accounts of interesting things happening here.

The Tropical Nursery from above

Whether it’s the Waterlily House propagation drive, repotting cacti, how we look after the orchid collection  or simply an interesting plant of the week by one of our students, come to this page to see what we’re up to.

Introducing the Tropical Nursery & Jodrell Glass

The Tropical Nursery, rebuilt in 1998, is one of two tender plant raising and reserve facilities for the Great Glasshouses and Training Section. Jodrell Glasshouse is a support facility primarily raising plants use for scientifc research by Jodrell laboratory. The nurseries provide facilities for the propagation, establishment and growing on of plants from various habitats encountered within the tropical/subtropical regions. There are over 45,000 plants held in the nursery at any one time! These plants are grown to support the public conservatories for educational and display purposes and may by used for scientific purposes by  scientists from around the world. The nursery also houses many of Kew's conservation plants, mainly from island habitats. 

The nursery covers an area of 6500 m² and is divided into 21 climatic environments which are separately controlled and monitored by a computer. These zones are distributed managed by four teams – Dry Tropics, Moist Tropics, Orchids and Temperate/Conservation Collections.

Eleven permanent staff work in the Tropical Nursery, supported by up to ten students, apprentices and trainees and 28 horticultural volunteers. Daily maintenance of the collections involves watering, feeding, repotting plants, propagating and monitoring plant health throughout the year.

Sam Crosfield, left, and Nick Johnson, right, in the Tropical Nursery

Introducing Nick Johnson

Nick is the team leader of the Temperate and Conservation collections. Nick has been at Kew for nearly ten years and has worked in the Tropical Nursery for eight of them. Nick manages a small team that cares for the temperate collections and the increasingly important threatened island flora collections. Nick provides propagation training to the students in the Nursery and has had the good fortune to have travelled to some amazing island habitats, including Madagascar and St Helena to assist conservationists in their bid to save endangered plant species. 

Introducing Sam Crosfield

Sam is the second in command of the Dry Tropics collections. Sam came to Kew in 2006 as a diploma student and, after finishing the three-year course (which included a travel scholarship to study the flora of Mauritius), Sam took a permanent position in the Nursery. Sam currently looks after the warm arid zone which includes the amazing collections of Melocacti, Euphorbias and arid  Madagascan flora.

- Sam & Nick -



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