There’s a royal treat in store for local gardeners and plant enthusiasts.
Tom Freeth, a top horticulturalist from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, will be in Durango on July 24 to give a lecture and presentation about Kew’s famed rock garden.
Located in London, Kew is home to the largest living plant collection on Earth. Freeth is making a special stop in Durango during his U.S. alpine and rock garden tour.
“The talk for Durango digs heavily into archival material to tell the story of one of the world’s oldest and most well-known rock gardens,” Freeth said via email. “From initial resistance through two World Wars and the addition of a million-pound Alpine House within, we will step back in time to the rock garden’s formation and then move through different periods in its history.”
Freeth will showcase the different styles and materials used and the impacts of design choices made by the gardeners of the day.
“Four gardens have come and gone before the current layout,” he said. “We will finish off the talk with the garden as it is now and look where development may focus in the future.”
Freeth is a professional botanist with a lifelong love of wild plants and high places and is Kew’s rock garden, alpine and aquatics supervisor.
His proudest moment at the botanic garden?
“Winning a Gold Medal for Kew at the Chelsea Flower Show, having designed and built the thing with really clever colleagues on six weeks’ notice,” he said.
The Kew Rock Garden features alpine plants from six mountainous and rocky regions of the world, from the European Alps to South Africa’s kloofs to windswept Patagonia to the steppes of Central Asia.
About 70% of the plants displayed have been grown from seeds collected in the wild by Kew scientists.
For a quick video tour of the Kew Rock Garden and interview with Freeth, visit https://tinyurl.com/kew-rock.
Freeth’s presentation is at 3 p.m. July 24 at the Durango Community Recreation Center’s community meeting rooms.
Tickets are free for members of Durango Botanic Gardens, the Colorado Native Plant Society, members of the Mountain Studies Institute and members of the North American Rock Garden Society. Otherwise, tickets for nonmembers/general public are $10.
Register or purchase tickets at DurangoBotanicGardens.org. Signing up online, especially those with free admission, will ensure enough seats are available.
Freeth’s presentation is sponsored locally by Bank of the San Juans. The North American Rock Garden Society is facilitating Freeth’s lectures in Durango and six other Western U.S. cities.
When Mike Smedley isn’t working at Bank of the San Juans, he’s wearing grubby clothing and obsessively toiling in his Durango gardens, home to hundreds of plants and 12,000 spring bulbs.