Kew Mutual Improvement Society lecture series

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.

From talks about crop cultivation in outer space, to showcasing the achievements of Marianne North, this series will introduce you to the latest discoveries and advancements made in science and horticulture today.

You will hear from expert staff, students and professional gardeners on some of the most ground-breaking research, practices and trends in the world.

  • All tickets sold at the door, first come first served
  • Teas from 5.15pm. Please arrive by 5.45 pm for a 6 pm start
  • Lectures run for one hour
  • Lady Lisa Sainsbury Lecture Theatre, entrance via Jodrell Gate

Direction from Jodrell Gate

2019 — 2020 Lecture schedule 


  • 30 September: Why poisonous plants make the best medicines with Henry Oakeley (Garden Fellow, Royal College of Physicians) 


  • 7 October: Waterperry Gardens and its history with Rob Jacobs (Horticultural Manager, Waterperry Gardens)
  • 14 October: An evening with the plant messiah with Carlos Magdalena (Research Horticulturalist, RBG Kew)
  • 21 October: The wonderfully variable and versatile rose with Michael Marriott (Senior Rosarian, David Austin Roses) 
  • 28 October: Can we grow crops on Mars or the moon? with Wieger Wamelink (Exobiologist, Wageningen University)


  • 4 November: Tresco Abbey Garden: Its history, its plants, its future with Mike Nelhams (Garden Curator, Tresco Abbey Garden) 
  • 11 November: African landscapes on the floral stage with Leon Kluge (Landscape Artist and Designer, South Africa) 
  • 18 November: The curious evolution of the modern rock garden with Tom Freeth (Rock Garden Supervisor, RBG Kew) 
  • 25 November: The future is green cities: Using green infrastructure on and around buildings with Dusty Gedge (Director, Green Infrastructure Consultancy) 


  • 2 December: Marianne North: Kew's Victorian gem with Gina Merrett-Smith (Artist, Tutor & Nature Photographer)
  • 9 December: The flora of Nepal: Plants on the roof of the world 
  • The Klamath knot: Exploring the biodiversity, oddities and endemism of the Klamath-Siskiyou ecoregion 
  • 16 December: A wild goose chase with Jack and Laura Willgoss (Founders, Wildegoose Nursery) 


  • 6 January: Plants and castles of Transylvania with Razvan Chisu (Horticulturalist and Editor, the Saxifrage magazine) 
  • 13 January: Horticulture of the Temperate House restoration with Scott Taylor (Conservatories Manager, RBG Kew) 
  • 20 January: In Patagonia with Carole and Ian Bainbridge (Past Presidents, SRGC) 
  • 27 January: Species discovery in Begonia, the world's fastest growing genus with Mark Hughes (Begonia Systematist, RBG Edinburgh) 


  • 3 February: Harlow Carr: Past, present and future with Paul Cook (Curator, RHS Harlow Carr) 
  • 10 February: Fungus among us with Lee Davies (Fungarium Collections Curator, RBG Kew) 
  • 17 February: The role of botanical art in 21st century with Masumi Yamanaka (Botanical Artist, RBG Kew) 
  • 24 February: Armenia: Floral diversity at the crossroad of empires with Faye Adams (Kew Diploma Student) and In search of the archetype of the socialist garden in Cuba with Bex Lane (Kew Diploma Student) 


  • 2 March: Living within a landscape (fundraising lecture) with Alan Power (Garden and Estate Manager, Stourhead)
  • 9 March: Gardening together: How horticulture can build confidence and communities with Frances Tophill (Horticulturalist and TV presenter, Gardeners' World) 
  • 16 March: Spatial and temporal trends in pollination and pollinators with Robert Paxton (Professor of General Zoology, Martin-Luther Universitat Halle-Wittenberg)
  • 23 March: The Great Dixter way (fundraising lecture) with Fergus Garrett (Head Gardener, Great Dixter) 

Kew Mutual Improvement Society

In 1871, Joseph Dalton Hooker 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. Over 100 years later, the Kew Mutual Improvement Society (KMIS) is still going strong.

Today, our KMIS is run by an elected first year student. We curate and present a varied programme of public lectures, with no limits to the discussion topics within the realms of botany, conservation and horticulture. Each lecture begins with a brief discussion or Q&A . We are proud to book a wide range of expert to speak on horticulture and science, including authors, researchers, gardeners and conservationists. The modern-day KMIS welcomes both students and professionals, as well as enthusiastic home gardeners and people passionate about the plant and fungal kingdom- all for a remarkably low cost ticket.

Contact us

We welcome your views about the lecture series. If you have any comments or queries please email

We regret that we cannot respond to horticultural queries.

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