Kew Mutual Improvement Society

Join our exciting educational season of public lectures on everything horticulture and botany.

Close up of a leaf

Grow your knowledge

The Kew Mutual Improvement Society (KMIS) was founded by Joseph Dalton Hooker in 1871, with the aim of providing students of horticulture and botany 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.

KMIS is run by Kew 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 horticulture and botany to attend. 

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 Microsoft Teams


Tickets booked online incur a fee to KMIS. If you are attending in person, please support KMIS and pay at the door if you can.

Regular: £3

Fundraising: £10

All proceeds go to KMIS

Book tickets

2023 – 2024 lecture schedule 


  • 25 September: Beauty and utility: A year in the life of Wakehurst, Kew’s wild botanic garden with
    Iain Parkinson (Wakehurst Head of Landscape and Horticulture)


  • 2 October: Cacti of Bolivia: Searching for the tail of the monkey with Fay Davies (Kew Diploma Student) and Neil Alderson (Botanical Horticulturist, RBG Kew)
  • 9 October: Vampires, killers and inkjet printers with Dr Chris Thorogood (Deputy Director and Head of Science, Oxford Botanic Garden and Arboretum)
  • 16 October: The second golden age of woody plants with Maurice Foster VMH (Woody Plantsman) 
  • 23 October: POSTPONED
  • 30 October: Talk 1: Breathless in Bhutan: Climbing mountains in search of communities with Selina Tan (Kew Diploma Student) and Zoe Roberts (Kew Apprentice); Talk 2: Horticulture on the hills: Scotland’s montane scrub with Sara Barnes (Kew Diploma Student)


  • 6 November: Gardeners as ecosystem engineers with Sid Hill (Ecological Garden Designer)
  • 13 November (fundraising lecture): A beautiful obsession with Jimi Blake (Plantsman) 
  • 20 November: High diversity plantings with Peter Korn (Plantsman, Landscaper and Designer) 
  • 27 November: Talk 1: A journey through the montane forests of northern Vietnam with Charles Shi (Botanical Horticulturist, RBG Kew); Talk 2: From traditional gardens to lava forests: A trip to South Korea with Tom Lawson (Kew Diploma Student)


  • 4 December: The art of creative pruning with Jake Hobson (Founder of Japanese tool company Niwaki)
  • 11 December: Evolution and development of petal nanoscale ridges that scatter light and influence animal beahviour with Professor Beverley Glover (Director, Cambridge University Botanic Garden and Professor of Plant Systematics and Evolution, Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge)
  • 18 December: From pest control to cosmetics at Kew with Professor Monique Simmonds OBE (Deputy Director of Science – Partnerships, RBG Kew)


  • 8 January: The garden of vegan with Cleve West (Garden Designer) 
  • 15 January: Talk 1: Life of the edge: A journey to St Helena with Al Coffey (Kew Diploma Student); Talk 2: A Cornishman abroad wirh Henry Welch (Kew Diploma Student) 
  • 22 January: Discovering Kew’s Indian materia medica: Past, present and future with Erin Messenger (Economic Botany Collection Manager, RBG Kew) 
  • 29 January: Mountain flora and rock gardens of Colorado with Tom Freeth (Head of Plant Records, RBG Kew)


  • 12 February: Talk 1: An investigation into native woody plant species and their cultivation techniques in the seasonally dry tropics of south India with Martin Silnevs (Kew Apprentice); Talk 2: Welcome to the jungle: An exploration of aroids in Sarawak, Borneo with Jenny Warner (Kew Diploma Student) 
  • 19 February: 10 steamy secrets of palms, the royal plant family with Dr Ángela Cano (Assistant Curator, Cambridge University Botanic Garden)
  • 26 February: Birmingham Botanical Gardens: Curating and restoring an oasis of delight with Emily Hazell (Director of Horticulture and Curation, Birmingham Botanical Gardens)


  • 11 March: Breathless: Plants of the Andes, Himalayas and Alps with Derry Watkins (Owner, Special Plants Nursery) Not online, in person only
  • 18 March (fundraising lecture): From RHS Chelsea to the city of steel: Creating an award-winning adaptive garden for Horatio’s Garden with Charlotte Harris and Hugo Bugg (Garden Designers) 
  • 25 March: A journey to understand and conserve wild tulips in the wilds of Central Asia with Dr Brett Wilson (Programme Officer, United Nations Environment Programme – World Conservation Monitoring Centre)