Kew Mutual Improvement Society

Join our exciting educational season of public lectures aimed to bring you closer to the latest in plant and fungal science and horticulture.

Close up of a leaf

The lecture series

The Kew Mutual Improvement Society (KMIS) was started by Joseph Dalton Hooker in 1871. He wanted to create a space where new thinking and cutting-edge ideas in the world of horticulture and botany could be discussed by the passionate students studying it. KMIS is run by diploma students who curate and present a varied programme of lectures. Our programme now reaches beyond students with audiences from all over the world and we welcome anyone who shares a passion for plants and fungi.

Join us this season for a wide range of lectures from the likes of Alan Titchmarsh to Kew’s very own diploma students. We will also have live demonstrations from Bonsai master Peter Chan and farmer florists Marianne Mogendorff and Camila Klich from Wolves Lane Flower Company. And don't miss Joey Santore from Crime Pays But Botany Doesn’t, who will be joining us online from America.

Lectures will be held in Kew Gardens as well as online, both live and on demand.

We hope you can join us!

Date and time

Mondays from September to March at 6pm (Tea and coffee available from 5.30pm)


Live: Lady Lisa Sainsbury Lecture Theatre, Jodrell Gate, Kew Gardens, Richmond TW9 3DS

Online: Hosted via Zoom


Regular: £3

Fundraising: £10

All proceeds go to KMIS

Book tickets

2022 — 2023 lecture schedule 


  • 26 September: What should a botanical garden look like? with
    Simon Toomer (Curator of Living Collections, RBG Kew)


  • 3 October: What is Bonsai all about? with Peter Chan (Founder and CEO of Herons Bonsai Ltd)
  • 10 October (Fundraising lecture): Trowel and error with Alan Titchmarsh (MBE, writer, gardener, poet, broadcaster, and novelist)
  • 17 October: French trees for urban landscapes with Sam Stapleton (Diploma Student) and Pelargoniums of Southern Africa: Conservation in regions with levels of speciation and hyper-diversity with Emily Hazell (Botanical Horticulturalist)
  • 24 October: Grow flowers, save the planet! How and why we should all grow and enjoy flowers throughout the season with Marianne Mogendorff and Camila Klich (Farmer Florists
    and Founders of Wolves Lane Flower Company)
  • 31 October: Cultivation and conservation of Costa Rican orchids with Svenja Jührend (Diploma Student) and A visit to Florida, the land of flowers with Francisco Lopez (Botanical Horticulturalist)


  • 7 November: Getting to the heart of the matter: Decay in standing trees with Professor Lynne Boddy (MBE, Professor of Fungal Ecology, Cardiff University)
  • 14 November: Creating a sanctuary with Ashley Edwards (Head Gardener, Horatio’s Garden, London & Southeast)
  • 28 November: Tom Hart Dyke: A plant hunter and gardener with passion with Tom Hart Dyke (Curator of the World Garden)


  • 5 December: The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership: Coordinating conservation across continents with Dr Aisyah Faruk (Conservation Partnership Coordinator (Europe and Oceania) at the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership, Wakehurst)


  • 9 January (Fundraising lecture and online talk): Soils, geology and plant speciation with Joey Santore (Filmmaker, Botanist, Artist, and Comic)
  • 16 January (Fundraising lecture): Small is beautiful: Gardening in confined spaces with Alys Fowler (Garden Writer)
  • 23 January: Ecologically driven horticulture in the north-east
    of the USA
    with Hattie Moore (Diploma Student) and The hidden flora of the Caucasus: Does Georgia hold the key to the future tree species selection for the changing European climate? with Timothy Shaw (Diploma Student)
  • 30 JanuaryFighting on the frontlines of extinction: A Hawaiian journey with Cecily Eltringham (Diploma Student) and Climbing the Schachen: Exploring the Alpine Garden and Munich Botanic Gardens with Vicki Thompson (Diploma Student)


  • 6 February: Integrated approaches for exploring medicinal plants in South Africa, a biodiversity hotspot with Dr Nokwanda P. Makunga (Associate Professor of Biotechnology, Stellenbosch University)
  • 13 February: More than weeds: Rethinking our relationship with wild plants with Sophie Leguil (Ecological and Horticultural Consultant)
  • 20 February: Managing Richmond Park, National Nature Reserve, in the 21st century with Simon Richards (Head of Special Projects, Richmond Park)
  • 27 February: Plants and people: Finding the roots of community across the tree of life with Sara Lil Middleton (Doctoral Researcher in Plant Sciences, University of Oxford)


  • 6 MarchWhat can history tell us about living collections? The rise and demise of N. E. Brown’s Sansevieria's at Kew with Silke Strickrodt (Botanical Horticulturalist and Historian)
  • 13 March: Nymans: Adapting to the times with Joe Whelan, (Head Gardener, Nymans)
  • 20 March: Rhododendrons of India’s North East frontier with Tom Clarke (Head Gardener, Exbury Gardens)
  • 27 March: From the Atacama Desert to the Valdivian rainforest: Exploring Chilean endemics and endangered species at the end of the world with Eleanor Edmonds (Diploma Student) and Using endangered orchids in ornamental display – a global partnership to save them with Francesco Gorni (Diploma Student)

Kew Mutual Improvement Society

The Kew Mutual Improvement Society (KIMS) was founded by Joseph Dalton Hooker in 1871, with the aim of providing students of botany and horticulture with the opportunity to broaden their understanding of a wide range of subjects relating to the profession.

With time, KMIS also became an invigorating space for horticultural conversation where experts from across the field could come together to share their passion.

We are a non-profit student-run organisation based in Kew Gardens. Our goal is to reach as broad an audience as possible and this is reflected in the diversity of speakers and topics covered in this lecture series.

The primary aim of this series is to educate people in fields of horticulture and botany and deliver information on their diversity and impact. Our focus is on the power of horticulture and plants to deliver positive change on both a personal and environmental level. 

We aim to break through the stereotypes of the industry, creating an inclusive space in which we can share the beauty and diversity of what we do.

Lectures include insights into how gardens and green spaces run behind the scenes, environmental projects, and cutting-edge research. They also cover a range of topics from vegetable growing, keeping houseplants, community projects, and some of the country's most beautiful gardens and green spaces.

There is something in this lecture series for everyone, whether you are a professional in the industry, a student, a keen amateur, or just curious to discover more about how you can bring plants and nature into your own lives!