Alpine Garden Society award for RBGE Horticultural Supervisor
Amongst the most popular areas of the Edinburgh Garden are the Rock Garden, Woodland Garden, Alpine Houses and Alpine Courtyard, which are home to plants from the mountains of the world, from the North American Penstemon to the South African Agapanthus campanulatus.
Now, John Mitchell, the Horticultural Supervisor responsible for these outstanding collections, has been recognised by the Alpine Garden Society for his outstanding work and been awarded the Society’s prestigious Lyttel Trophy for advancing the knowledge of alpines to a wide audience across many countries.
Throughout his horticultural career, John Mitchell has worked with colleagues and partners in botanic gardens and specialist alpine societies in countries across the world to help promote alpine species. This ambassadorial work even included a trip to Afghanistan, complete with an armed guard, to help reinforce conservation initiatives and studies of the flora in the country. John has led or co-led expeditions to western China, including Tibet, encountering alpine plants that were then little known in horticulture or botany.
From his experiences on expeditions, John developed a particular interest in species such as Meconopis, the Himalayan blue poppy, and Cypripedium, the hardy slipper orchid, which can now be found planted in RBGE’s Woodland Garden.
Under his supervision, the Rock Garden was redesigned and is now one of the finest in Britain. He also manages the Alpine Yard which encompasses the Alpine House and Courtyard and a huge number of rare and unusual alpines and small bulbs.
A skilled photographer, his images of mountain regions, plants and people are used to great effect in his lectures. He is not only a keen supporter of the Alpine Garden Society and Scottish Rock Garden Club, but also served on the RHS’ Joint Rock Garden Plant Committee where he was vice-chair.
Moreover, he has nurtured young horticultural talent in his team, encouraging his staff to join fieldtrips to mountains across the world, where they gained valuable practical experience.
John’s knowledge, practical skills and creativity were all recognised by the Alpine Garden Society and his influence and work judged to be ‘meritorious’ and ‘of various kinds’.
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