Adult Opportunities

Trees Around the World: An Evening with Tony Kirkham

Spend an evening discussing trees with Tony Kirkham, retired head of the Arboretum at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Content Detail

The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew is a treasure trove of plant diversity, research, and botanical history. This UNESCO World Heritage site holds a collection of over 50,000 plants that includes 14,000 incredible trees in a 440-acre green space near one of the world’s busiest cities. For the last 40 years, Tony Kirkham has been involved in caring for these trees.

In this illustrated evening lecture, join Tony on a tour of remarkable trees he has known over the course of a distinguished career, through his work at Kew and his botanical explorations in Chile and Asia. This lively, colorful lecture will share the history of almost 300 years of trees at Kew, as well as how personalities such as Sir William Hooker, Capability Brown, William Nesfield, William Baron, and William Dallimore shaped those collections. Meet some of the key heritage trees and important scientific tree collections that can be found growing in the arboretum landscape at Kew and the collectors and curators who have been influential in assembling this unique collection. Learn how modern botanical collections are shaping botanical gardens and conservation today.

This program meets in person at the Arboretum.

Speaker: Tony Kirkham, retired head of Arboretum, Gardens, and Horticultural Services at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Age: 16 and older

Course number: H490


Tony Kirkham, retired head of Arboretum, Gardens, and Horticultural Services at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Following an apprenticeship in the forestry industry and two years as an arborist, in 1978 Tony Kirkham started at The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew on the three-year diploma course, graduating in 1981. In July 2020 he retired as the head of the Arboretum, Gardens, and Horticultural Services, where he was responsible for the management and curation of over 14,000 trees in the collections.

He participated in and led several plant collecting expeditions to Chile and Asia, including China, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, and Russia, and he has co-authored several books on his travels including Plants from the Edge of the World; Wilson’s China: A Century On, Essential Pruning Techniques; the Haynes Workshop Manual of Trees; Remarkable Trees; A Guide to Growing Trees, as well as revising the Pruning of Trees, Shrubs, and Conifers. His latest book is Arboretum and is a beautifully illustrated celebration of trees and their biomes from around the world. He has also worked with Francis Lincoln on a series of games featuring trees, “Match a Leaf,” “Tree Vision,” “Tree Families,” and “Tree Bingo.”

He is a member of the Royal Horticultural Society Council, chairman of the RHS woody plant committee and sits on the RHS awards committee, the scientific and education committee of the International Dendrology Society, Action Oak, the Queen’s Green Canopy, and is a trustee and chairman of the advisory board at the Chelsea Physic Garden and TROBI (Tree Register of the British Isles). He regularly lectures, writes popular articles and papers, and has made international television appearances on the subject of trees. In 2009, he was awarded the Associate of Honour by the Royal Horticultural Society for distinguished service to horticulture, the RHS Victoria Medal of Honour, and a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 2019 for services to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Arboriculture and made an Honorary Lifetime Fellow of the Arboricultural Association in 2015. He was made the vice president of the Arboricultural Society and awarded the Arboriculture Association’s lifetime achievement award in 2019 and was made an Honorary Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Forestry in 2022. In 2023 he was awarded the Thomas Roland medal by the Massachusetts Horticultural Society for exceptional skill in horticulture and lectures.

What to Know

This program is held indoors. A notebook and pen for taking notes may come in handy.

Pay What You Can

To ensure that these programs are accessible, a variety of pricing options are available.

For $5 tickets: Enter discount code EDLECTURE5 at checkout.

For $10 tickets: Enter discount code EDLECTURE10 at checkout.

Museums for All tickets: Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cardholders can enter discount code EDMFA23OFF at checkout for $1 tickets.

Program Schedule

Wednesday, April 10, 2024, 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Ginkgo Room, Visitor Center


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