Last week I was invited to the unveiling of a blue plaque at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens in Edgbaston.
The plaque, which was unveiled by the Deputy Lord Mayor, Cllr Wilkes, was in honour of Ernest Henry Wilson, a gardener, botanist and plant hunter who worked for several years (1893-1897) at the Botanical Gardens. He also married (in St George’s Church, Edgbaston) a local girl from Monument Road.
From Birmingham, Ernest Wilson went to Kew. He became known as ‘Chinese’ Wilson, one of the most famous and successful plant hunters. He collected over 100,000 specimens and ontroduced over 1,200 new species, mostly from China.
One of his plant introductions was the Handkerchief Tree – a fine example of which can be seen at the Botanical Gardens. He also brought the Chinese Gooseberry to the West – better known now as the Kiwi Fruit. So naturally they featured on the menu for the lunch which we all enoyed after the unveiling and speeches!
Birmingham’s blue plaques are organised by the Birmingham Civic Society. This one will be displayed on the outside wall of the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.