David Prain as Director
Sir William Thiselton-Dyer retired in 1905 and David Prain became
Director. Like his predecessor, Prain embarked on a number of landscaping
activities, but under his directorship, the pace of change slowed.
Under Prain, Nesfield's Western Palm House parterres had their
semicircular yew hedge replaced with with holly and their gravelled
walks leading to the Pagoda and Syon Vistas were grassed. He also
incorporated the garden of Cambridge Cottage into the broader Gardens,
removing its conservatory and putting gateways in its southern walls.
He built the current Aquatic Garden beside the Jodrell Laboratory
in 1909, and constructed the Japanese Gateway in 1911.
E. H. 'China' Wilson was a plant collector of enormous significance
to Kew. His Chinese specimens (his extensive collecting there gave
him his nickname) were an important addition to the Gardens' collections,
and arrived during Prain's directorship.
These included rhododendrons planted in 1911 in Rhododendron Dell,
Prunus near Holly Walk planted in 1914, and 24 oaks planted
in 1915. The Chinese plants were distributed widely across the Gardens
and many collections contain at least one Wilson specimen. More
specifically, they included specimens in the following collections:
Cotoneaster; Acer; Catalpa; Cladastris;
Thuja; Picea; Araliaceae; Cephelataxus;
Pinus; Castanea and Carpinus. The Wilson
Collection specimens are central to these collections and it is
important to note that they are perpetuated only by vegetative propagation.
The 1914-18 war disturbed the landscape at the Gardens, since the
Dutch House lawn and Nesfield's East Terrace Parterres in front
of the Palm House were dug up to plant root crops. Due to the conscription
of men, the numbers of women gardeners, first recruited in 1896,
expanded dramatically and during this period they were responsible
for the daily upkeep of the Gardens.
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