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

Since 1871 the Kew Mutual Improvement Society has been running an annual lecture season to boost your knowledge of the plant and fungal kingdom. Join us this season for our 150th anniversary lecture series!

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

This year’s lectures will be presented by world-class leaders in science, multi-award-winning landscape designers, and pioneering horticulturists.

Join us to:

  • discover the many hidden talents of plants, from healing communities to solving murders
  • experience some of the UK’s pioneering green spaces
  • learn more about cutting-edge conservation projects

2021 — 2022 lecture schedule 


  • 27 September (Fundraising lecture): Interiorscapes with James Wong (Botanist, Science Writer and Broadcaster)


  • 4 October: The story of the Welcome to Yorkshire Garden with Mark Gregory (Managing Director of Landform Consultants ltd.)
  • 11 October: Decolonising the Garden with Sui Searle (Founder of decolonise the garden*)
  • 18 October: Fulham Palace: Ten years and growing with Lucy Hart (Head Gardener at Fulham Palace)
  • 25 October (Fundraising Lecture): From Small Acorns… The making of the Modern Slavery Garden with Juliet Sargeant (Garden Designer)


  • 1 November: The Development of the University of Bristol Botanic Garden with Nick Wray (Curator of University of Bristol Botanic Garden)
  • 8 November: Waterlilies, Waders and Watercolour with Lucy Smith (Botanical artist and illustrator)
  • 29 November: Murder Most Florid: The power of forensic botany with Dr Mark Spencer (Consultant and Forensic Botanist)


  • 6 December: My Life in the Trees with Georgi Ennis (Woodland Officer, Forestry Commission )
  • 13 December: Decoding the Secret Language of Soils with Prof. Duncan Cameron (Professor of Plant and Soil Biology)


  • 10 January: In Pursuit of historic camellias from China to Europe with Geraldine King (Estate Garden Manager at Chiswick House)
  • 17 January: Kicking the Habit: Designing without topsoil with John Little (Brownfield Gardener)
  • 24 January: The Global Tree Assessment: A framework for saving all of the world’s tree species with Paul Smith (Secretary General, Botanic Gardens Conservation International)
  • 31 January: Grow2Know: The healing power of nature with Tayshan Haden-Smith (Founder/CEO of Grow2Know)


  • 7 February: Where do the new garden and landscape plants come from? Indulgence or necessity in an era of climate change? with Prof. James Hitchmough
  • 14 February (Fundraising Lecture): Ecosia: How a Search Engine Planted 100 million trees with Pieter van Midwoud (Chief Tree Planting Officer, Ecosia)
  • 28 February: The Rev. Thomas Birch Freeman: Victorian Botanist and Plantsman with Advolly Richmond (Garden, Landscape & Social Historian)


  • 7 March: Urban Trees of Tomorrow with Dr Henrik Sjoman (Senior researcher, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences; Scientific Curator at Gothenburg Botanical Garden)
  • 14 March: No Dig Gardening with Stephanie Hafferty (No dig gardener)

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!


*Decolonise the garden is independent of our institution, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.