On Monday 23rd May 2016, Marcus Bicknell (photo, left) hosted a dinner at the Garrick Club in London for Carolyn Hanbury (photo, right) and "L'Associazione Amici dei Giardini Botanici Hanbury", the Friends of the Hanbury Gardens in la Mortola on the Italian Riviera. 30 flower-seeking members were in London for visits to the Chelsea Flower Show, Kew Gardens, Sissinghurst and Savoy Gardens and graced the hallowed Milne Room of the Garrick for the evening.
The menu card announced the presence of the ghosts of Clarence Bicknell (1842-1918) and and Sir Thomas Hanbury (1832-1907) who knew each other, just 12 kilometres separating Clarence's Bordighera from Hanbury's La Mortola. Clarence worked with the Hanbury Gardens curator Alwin Berger on collecting and documenting flowers and plants of the area, as documented by Graham Avery for the Clarence Bicknell Association in his new paper just uploaded to our web site (click here to download the paper).
Carolyn Hanbury has been very supportive of our efforts to ensure a better knowledge of Clarence Bicknell (biography and video coming up in the next year) and we thank her and Alessandro Bartoli, Secretary of the "L'Associazione Amici dei Giardini Botanici Hanbury", for their enthusiastic cooperation in preparing the evening.
In the background of the first photo is the Temple of Balbec by David Roberts RA, for whom the Garrick was "his second home" and whose daughter Christine married one of Clarence's elder brothers, Henry Sanford Bicknell.
At the same event we took a photograph of an interesting encounter over the visitors book of the Casa Fontanalba, Clarence's summer house up in the mountains... 4 botanists reunited. Graham Avery, Vice-chairman of the Clarence Bicknell Association and author of several papers on Bicknell's international network of botanists (www.clarencebicknell.com >Downloads) is with Ursula Salghetti Drioli Piacenza, delegate of the Friends to the main board of the Hanbury Gardens and whose Boccanegra Garden is next to the Hanbury Garden at La Mortola on the Italian Riviera west of Ventimiglia. She is holding one of the treasures of the Clarence Bicknell collection held by Marcus Bicknell... it is the visitors book of the Casa Fontanalba. The signatures of guests on the left hand pages are complimented by a stunning water-colour of a botanical specimen from the area, painted by Clarence. This page shows the signature of Reginald Farrer, botanist of the Victorian age, whom Graham has documented (click here to download the paper) for example. Farrer visited Bicknell on 19th July 1910. When Marcus had transcribed every name from this book onto the web in 2005, Graham had been searching the net for Farrer and came across this entry. From that moment Graham became an ardent follower of Bicknell and works tirelessly for the Clarence Bicknell Association. So, my 4 botanists are Graham and Ursula with, skipping 106 years, Clarence Bicknell and Reginald Farrer.
Interested in knowing more about the Hanbury Gardens? Check out their web site http://www.giardinihanbury.com/ (in Italian and English languages) and the excellent video about their citrus collection narrated rather expertly by Carolyn Hanbury herself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fs-mkS07FcE Then go to visit it when you are next in the region!