By Nancy Smith Brooks, Extension Master Gardener
I took a marvelous cruise in May 2019 called “Green and Gentle Lands: Exploring Gardens and Historic Sites,” aboard the Ponant Line’s ship Le Boréal. We took six different excursions to gardens in England, Scotland, Belgium, and Norway.
Our first stops were at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the Chelsea Physic Garden in London. Richard Barley, Director of Horticulture, Learning, and Operations at Kew, met with our group of avid gardeners and talked about Kew’s worldwide research role and its seed bank at Wakehurst, “a library of plants.” Pleasing this Master Gardener of Northern Virginia and University of Virginia graduate, he quoted Thomas Jefferson: “the greatest service which can be rendered any country is to add an useful plant to it’s culture; especially a bread grain.” Barley also described his decision to bring Wolfgang Buttress’s sculpture “The Hive” back to Kew from the 2015 Milan Expo, and to reassemble its 170,000 pieces in a meadow.