Midhurst U3A members go through the seasons at Kew

MEMBERS of Midhurst U3A (University of the Third Age) welcomed Sarah Oldridge to their October meeting.

Sarah, who is adult education co-ordinator at the gardens, gave a talk entitled ‘Through the Seasons at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew and Wakehurst Place’.

Kew, founded in 1759 has poor soil, mainly river sand and gravel, and consequently only a certain range of plants can be grown there.

The first director was Sir Joseph Banks, who sent collectors all over the world to bring back new plants.

There are 39 listed buildings on the site including the Pagoda built in 1762, the Palm House constructed between 1844 and 1848, the Temperate House begun in 1862 and the Princess of Wales Conservatory built in 1987, which contains ten different climatic zones under one roof.

Scientific research takes place at the Herbarium on Kew Green, where more than eight million dried and pressed plants are stored.

The mansion at Wakehurst Place was built in 1590 and after its last owners, Sir Henry and Lady Price, died in 1960, the estate was left to the National Trust.

Kew was looking for another venue with better soil and so a 99-year lease was signed and the estate is now funded and managed by the Royal Botanical Gardens.

Sarah concluded her talk with breathtaking slides of flowers growing at Kew and Wakehurst Place, from snowdrops in the Winter Garden at Wakehurst Place and the 1,600,000 crocuses in flower at Kew, to the Iris Dell, Rhododendron Walk, Rose Pergola, ornamental vegetable displays and the stunning autumnal colours of the acers and beeches.

Anyone who is just retiring or has already retired, is invited to join Midhurst U3A which meets in small groups to further interests in a wide range of topics from art to world religions – if someone has an interest and there are like-minded people, another group is formed.

The group meets on the third Tuesday of each month at 2.30pm in Midhurst Methodist Church Hall.