Kew Mutual Improvement Society

150th Anniversary Lecture Series


This year we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Kew Mutual Improvement Society Lecture series!

The lectures series runs from September to April with weekly talks being held Monday evenings from 6:00 - 7:00pm, online and live in the Lady Lisa Sainsbury Lecture Theatre at RBG Kew.  

Standard lectures are £3, and fundraising lectures delivered by keynote speakers are £10. 


Upcoming Events


Paul Smith | The Global Tree Assessment: A framework for saving all of the world’s tree species

Dr Paul Smith is a trained plant ecologist, author of several acclaimed field guides and has won many awards throughout his career. Following on from his role as Head of the Royal Botanic Garden, Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank (MSB), Paul now acts as CEO of The Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI). 

Join Paul as he discusses the colossal efforts of BGCI, as they undertake The Global Tree Assessment which is set to be the largest red listing effort ever. They are aiming to assess the conservation status of the world’s tree species by 2023 to prevent the extinction of the rarest and most endangered tree species on our planet.  

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Prof. James Hitchmough | New garden and landscape plants: Indulgence or necessity in an era of climate change?

Climate change is widespread, rapid and intensifying, and across the globe the capacity of plants to cope is being challenged. This doesn’t just apply to the natural world, our cultivated plants also need to change if horticulture is to keep up. Dr James Hitchmough, Professor of Horticultural Ecology, answers the important questions: Where do new garden and landscape plants come from, and who will lead the charge?

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Fundraising Lecture

Pieter van Midwoud | Ecosia: How a Search Engine Planted 100 million trees

Join us for this lecture where Pieter Van Midwoud will explain how an internet search engine planted over 100 million trees around the world. Since 2009 the non-profit organisation Ecosia has led the way in a regenerative future through reforestation, empowering local communities, fighting hunger and saving wildlife. By browsing with Ecosia you could help to reforest the worlds landscapes. 

Pieter studied forest and nature conservation before working with a non-profit organisation on the development of The CarbonFix Standard (CFS). The CFS was set up to certify climate reforestation projects to sequester carbon from the atmosphere. Since 2016 Pieter has been the Chief Planting Officer for the environmentally centered search engine, Ecosia. 

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Howard Sooley | Derek Jarman, Prospect Cottage and Me

Derek Jarman died in February 1994, leaving behind a fine legacy of films, paintings, books, and the wonderful garden of Prospect Cottage. As a garden it is unusual and inspirational, existing outside of the horticultural tradition in which cultivated space and nature are distinct. At Prospect Cottage, a garden without walls, both physical boundaries and the boundaries of convention are abandoned.

Howard Sooley shares with us his experience gardening alongside Derek Jarman and his unique perspective on the garden’s design and construction.

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Advolly Richmond | The Rev. Thomas Birch Freeman: Victorian Botanist and Plantsman

Discover a botanical and horticultural legacy that has been lost to time with the inspirational garden historian and presenter, Advolly Richmond. This talk takes us to Ghana where Advolly travelled in order to uncover the fascinating life of Thomas Birch Freeman, an Anglo-African Victorian missionary, diplomat and botanist.

Advolly travelled to Ghana in 2018 in order to further her research on the life and legacy of the Rev. Thomas Birch Freeman. In addition to her research, Advolly runs Introduction to Garden History courses for various organizations such as the National Trust and the University of Birmingham. 

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Dr Henrik Sjoman | Urban Trees of Tomorrow

With rising populations and diminishing greenspace, humanity must begin to incorporate more plant diversity into its urban landscapes in order to protect the health and integrity of our urban ecosystems. Discovering the urban trees of tomorrow will pave the way in improving the health and prosperity of our cities and towns for years to come. 

Dr Henrik Sjoman is the senior researcher at the Swedish University of Agriculture and sciences & Scientific Curator at Gothernburg Botanic Garden. Henrik’s experience has been crucial in helping diversify the urban treescape by introducing unconventional tree species that are resilient to urban environments.

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Fundraising Lecture

Stephanie Hafferty | No Dig Gardening

Stephanie Hafferty is a no-dig homesteader, and garden and food writer. She is leading authority on no dig gardening, and author of three books on the subject. She is now dedicating her time to setting up a new no-dig homestead in West Wales. 

Join Stephanie to learn more about how to grow year-round using no dig gardening, from allotments to market gardens, using natural organic methods which benefit wildlife and the planet. 

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