High Street, Chipping Campden
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Ernest Wilson Garden - Chipping Campden
Ernest Wilson Garden - Chipping Campden
High Street, Chipping Campden
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The Garden is dedicated to the memory of Ernest Henry Wilson (1876-1930), one of the greatest plant collectors, and is planted up with many of the plants that he introduced to this country from China. The Garden was opened by Roy Lanacaster F.L.S.V.M.M. in May 1984, and is open to the public every day free of charge.

In the 1970’s a decision was taken, at the suggestion of Sir Gordon Russell, that the best way to mark the centenary of Wilson’s birth was to create a garden as a permanent memorial.  The town acquired the lower half of the large vicarage garden in 1980, which fronts onto the main street, with a splendid view of the church tower to the rear.  The garden was laid out after a design by Sir Peter Shepheard with plants selected from the 1200 or so that Wilson had introduced.   Money was raised locally and many of the plants were generous donated by both individuals and nurseries.

 

On 31st May 1984, the garden was opened by the well-known broadcaster and plant hunter, Roy Lancaster.  An Acer Davidii was planted by Wilson’s grand-daughter, Mrs Barbara Abbott.

 

Ernest or ‘Chinese’ Wilson as he later became known, was born in Chipping Campden on February 15th 1876.  As a young man he worked in Birmingham Botanical Gardens where he studied botany in the evenings and 1897 he went to the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew.  When James Veitch & Sons, the celebrated nurserymen, were looking for a plant collector to go to China, Wilson’s name was suggested.

 

Wilson set off for China in 1899, stopping off at the Arnold Arboretum near Boston, where he met Prof.Charles Sargent.  His first expedition was so successful that Veitch sent him out again (1903 –1905).  His next two expeditions were for the Arnold Arboretum (1907-1909 & 1910-1911).  A serious accident in a landslide meant he could no longer manage arduous travel, and he confined his last trips to Japan, the Linkin and Bonin Islands, Korea and Formosa.

 

Wilson was appointed assistant director of the Arnold Arboretum in 1919, and became Keeper when Sargent died in 1927.  Sadly he and his wife were tragically killed in a car accident in 1930. Wilson introduced around 1,200 species of trees and shrubs, and collected over 100,000 herbarium specimens.  In addition to his prolific collecting he wrote several books on his travels, the best known being ‘A Naturalist in Western China’(1913) and ‘Plant Hunting’(1927).