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. 

In these unique times it is more important than ever to stay connected within our horticultural community. With that in mind, the KMIS series will be presented live online for the first time in its near 150-year history. This comes with challenges but it does also bring excellent opportunities to open up our lectures to a wider audience. 

This year’s lectures will be presented by world-class leaders in science, multi-award-winning landscape designers, and pioneering horticulturists. Together we’ll journey from the gardens of Barbados to the gardens of Cumbria via Sussex, Berkshire, and RBG Kew. Join us on our travels.

  • Lectures will be held online and will run for one hour
  • See individual event pages for details on how to book

2020 — 2021 Lecture schedule 


  • 28 September: Andromeda Botanic Gardens; Iris Bannochie’s Legacy with Sharon Cooke (Curator and Head Gardener, Andromeda Botanic Gardens)


  • 5 October: A tale of two morphs: Life in the desert with Waheed Arshad (Botanical Specialist at Candide Gardening)
  • 12 October (Fundraising lecture): Future nature: Transformational green with Prof. Nigel Dunnett (Professor of Planting Design and Urban Horticulture, Sheffield University)
  • 19 October: Living with fires: What we have (or have not) learnt with Richard Barley (Director of Horticulture, Learning and Operations, RBG Kew)
  • 26 October: The Kitchen Garden at Kew: A brief history with Helena Dove (Kitchen Gardener, RBG Kew)


  • 2 November: Ethiopia and the tree against hunger with James Borrell (Tropical Crop Ecologist)
  • 9 November: Gravetye Manor: William Robinson's historic garden with Tom Coward (Head Gardener, Gravetye Manor)
  • 16 November: Kiss the ground – how perennial polycultures and healthy soil can reverse climate change with Michael Wachter (Gardener, Great Dixter)
  • 23 November (Fundraising lecture): Making a modern garden with Andy Sturgeon (Landscape Designer)


  • 7 December: Mycorrhizas in changing ecosystems with Laura Martinez-Suz (Research Leader in Mycology, RBG Kew)
  • 14 December: Making and keeping an English flower garden with Mat Reese (Head Gardener, Malverleys)


  • 11 January: The evolution and fate of tropical diversity with Prof. Alexandre Antonelli (Director of Science, RBG Kew)
  • 18 January: No-dig gardening: Why and how? with Charles Dowding (Market Gardener, Teacher and Author)
  • 25 January: (Fundraising lecture) Great Dixter’s biodiversity audit with Fergus Garrett (Head Gardener and CEO of Great Dixter)


  • 1 February: No lecture
  • 8 February: Incredible Edible Bristol: Why grow food across a city with Sara Venn (Founder of Incredible Edible Bristol)
  • 15 February: Living and designing with trees with Peter Thurman (Landscape designer and environmental consultant)
  • 22 February: Tales of the city: Revealing London's secret garden with Sean Harkin (Head Gardener, The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple)


  • 8 March: Global and local significance of mangrove forests with Angie Elwin (Research Fellow, Reading University)
  • 22 March: Seasonal cut flower gardening with Becky Crowley (Cut Flower Gardener, Chatsworth House)
  • 29 March (Fundraising lecture): RHS Garden Bridgewater with Tom Stuart-Smith (Landscape Architect)

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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