Kew gardens

Right-on Kew

We must all hurry down to the Temperate House at Kew Gardens next month to enjoy Queer Nature After Hours, an evening of drama, music, comedy, drag acts and ‘a sprinkling of queer joy’. If, like me, you have never previously been sprinkled with queer joy, here’s your chance to find out what it’s like. There will be a performance by Trans Voices as well as a chap, or maybe not a chap, called Bi-Curious George. Here’s what George will be doing: ‘Within the splendour of the Temperate House, Bi-Curious George (he/him) will broadcast immersive parody-monologues, set to soaring classical scores. The audience becomes George’s parade of beautifully queer creatures

Aintree is doing Rose Paterson proud

On Grand National Day at Aintree this Saturday, the Rose Paterson Trust will be launched. This time last year, Rose was the chairman of Aintree, and had to cancel the meeting because of Covid. In June, she took her own life. The purpose of the trust is to help prevent such events. Owen, her widower, is very frank. He believes that: ‘If Rose had been aware of the utter catastrophe she has wrought — the first victim being herself — she would not have done it.’ The worst is that it cannot be undone. It is a wound that time can do frighteningly little to heal. He says it is

In defence of Kew Gardens’ ‘woke’ signs

Forget statues: the latest victims of the colonialism culture war are racist plants. Ah yes, those menacing snowdrops with their overly white petals and dangerous daffodils. As Mr Steerpike reports, Kew Gardens has entered the fray with a promise to ‘decolonise’ its collections. Presumably the next step is for its sister site in Sussex to be renamed Wokehurst Place. The Royal Botanic Gardens’ director Richard Deverell has said that ‘We’re looking at our collections and how we bring new narratives’; while his organisation’s recently-published ‘manifesto for change’ promises that by 2030, ‘we will move quickly to ‘de-colonise’ our collections, re-examining them to acknowledge and address any exploitative or racist legacies, and

Kew Gardens asks: are plants problematic?

Statues toppled, buildings renamed — last summer’s BLM inspired iconoclasm changed the face of streets and landmarks across Britain. Surely though this reckoning with the past was merely restricted to the physical manifestation of our shameful past? Apparently not, according to the director of Kew Gardens. In an interview with the Evening Standard, Richard Deverell has today spoken of his concerns about the history of the plants based in the Royal Botanic Gardens in south west London.  The world heritage site plans to ‘completely change’ the display information on plants such as sugar cane to reflect their links to empire and slavery. Deverell, whose institute is currently trying to plug a £15 million Covid-related black