AN ABSOLUTE PASSION: Rothschild orchid collections, 20 May 2021

This free online talk takes place on Thursday 20 May at 6.30pm. It is being promoted by the Friends of Gunnersbury Park & Museum. The event will last about an hour. There are still some places left – book a ticket here

The speaker, Francesca Murray, has researched the Rothschild family’s passion for orchids. The story begins at Gunnersbury (the first Rothschild garden in England) where Baroness Charlotte de Rothschild published a catalogue of her own rare orchids from around the world. Cultivating these strange exotics in the Gunnersbury glasshouses was highly experimental and devoted head gardeners shared their findings between the family estates.

Nathaniel de Rothschild and his son – the famous zoologist Walter Rothschild – took up orchidology at Tring Park too. Charlotte’s son, Leopold, presented George V with Gunnersbury orchids in a special Fabergé vase at his Coronation. Leopold’s son, Lionel (1884-1942), developed his first garden at the age of 5, and took Gunnersbury orchids and rhododendrons with him to his new garden at Exbury, Hampshire, in 1919. There his experiments in the scientific field of orchid hybridisation had resulted in a fine collection of 28,000 plants by World War 2.

This astonishing story provides a glimpse of how the Rothschilds’ investment in their Gunnersbury gardens paid off for the benefit of the wider horticultural community and is not to be missed!

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