I recall a younger ROY LANCASTER leaving a County Council office in the early 1980’s, at the head of a small group of horticultural students. He was like a latter day Pied Piper, animatedly singing, ” we’re off to see the wizard……..” as they disappeared in line from the darkness of the building and out into the sunshine on the way to a mushroom identification trip in the New Forest. As always he had brought some happiness and light relief into an otherwise dully day of office routines!
Having just spent two years producing the entertaining ‘ My Life with Plants, ‘ Roy is still sharing his boundless enthusiasm with friends new and old, on a sold out tour of Hillier Garden Centres in the South during June.
Now approaching another big birthday, Roy may be taking life at a little more sedate pace these days, but he retains his celebrated enthusiasm, sense of fun and unassailable position as a celebrated plant hunter of our time. His name has been added to the great and the good – Hooker, David Douglas and Ernest Wilson amongst them, who were his boyhood idols. No longer able to undertake plant hunting expeditions to remote parts of the globe seeking exotic and beautiful new species, Roy Lancaster has spent a lifetime with plants.
Like the plants he loves, Roy Lancaster has his roots in the soil. He hails from Bolton Lancashire. Those fortunate enough to see him, will be well entertained with anecdotes, horticultural knowledge and advice – and his years of practical experience. True gardeners all, passing round the specimens and potted plants are a real talking point. It appears that as in the word’s of Arthur Fallowfield, Kenneth William’s character from the BBC 1960’s comedy programme, ‘ Round the Horn, ‘ the answer really does lie in the soil !
One of Roy’s burning ambitions came true when he first arrived Hillier’s then headquarters here in Romsey Road, Winchester and met his hero, Harold Hillier, when he travelled from Cambridge for interview for a post with the plant nursery. He went on to become Curator of the world famous Hillier Arboretum, ( now the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens ), before appearing on BBC tv. Gardeners’ World and becoming a member of the Radio 4 Garden’s Question Time for many years.
Roy’s book, My Life with Plants is available at the talks and you can have a copy signed by the well known plant hunter, whose travels have taken him through the east including India, Nepal and China.
Details : www.hillier.co.uk
Words and pictures : Tony Knight copyright 2017
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