Tony Kirkham (1957-)
You might think of trees as low maintenance, but with 14,000 specimens
at Kew – 500 planted in the last year alone – arboriculture
is a constant activity requiring lots of planning. With his
team of 47 staff, Tony Kirkham ensures the informed curation
of the woody collections, the health of the trees and the safety
of visitors walking in the Arboretum.
Kirkham came to Kew in 1978
as a Diploma student and progressed to become Head of the
Arboretum in 2001. The great storm of 1987, when Kew lost 500 mature
trees overnight, was a turning point for him. The resulting programme
of replacement has meant many collecting trips in China,
South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and the Russian Far East, and he is
now one of Kew’s most
active plant collectors.
He co-wrote Plants from the Edge of
the World (2005),
has been featured in the BBC TV series A Year at Kew,
and will be presenting a new series, The Trees That Made Britain,
from 15 September 2006. He is shown speaking into a microphone
coming out of a Hydrangea species from Asia.
In the last
few years, William Nesfield’s historic Pagoda
Vista, Syon Vista, and Broad Walk have all been renovated
with new plantings. These trees will mature over the next
150 years, and are planned to provide scientific and educational
value as well as being decorative.
Management of the oldest specimen trees can be complex, and
recent pioneering work uses below-ground decompaction and
mycorrhizal inoculation to replicate nature in maintaining
the health of trees’ unseen
to: People overview
On to: Botanists