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People & Organisations

Collins, James

  • COL
  • Person
  • fl.1846-1900

Economic Botanist: Particular interests in India Rubber and Gutta Percha
Curator Royal Pharmaceutical Society Library and Museum, London 1868-1872
Curator Raffles Library and Museum, Singapore 1874-1877
Fellow of the Botanical Society of Edinburgh

Comber, Harold Frederick

  • GB/NNAF/P153422
  • Person
  • 1897-1969

Born Sussex 1897; died Oregon, U.S.A. 1969
Harold Comber’s father was head gardener at Nymans in Sussex and on leaving school he worked there for two years, before moving, aged 17, to Colesbourne Park, Gloucestershire where he managed the glasshouses and botanical collections. He studied horticulture at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh from 1920 to 1923, obtaining exceptionally high marks in all his subjects. This made him an ideal candidate for two plant-hunting expeditions in the Andes sponsored by the a group of wealthy gardening enthusiasts in 1925-26 and 1926-27, from which he sent back seeds and herbarium specimens of over 1200 species, including the Chilean Fire Bush and several species of Berberis and Eucryphia. In 1930 he made a further plant hunting trip to Tasmania and on his return took up the post of manager of the Burnham Lily Nursery in Buckinghamshire. In 1952 he emigrated to America to take up a position as lily hybridizer at the Jan de Graff Oregon bulb farms, retiring in 1962. In retirement he remained active, writing prodigiously and listing the native plants of specific areas for the Native Plant Society of Oregon and at the time of his death was revising his monograph on lilies of the world. In his lifetime Harold Comber collected many species new to science, a new genus Combera was named after him.
D.W.

Cooper, Roland Edgar

  • REC
  • Person
  • 1890-1962

Roland Edgar Cooper was born in 1890 in Kingston-Upon-Thames, but lost both his parents by the age of four. He came to be cared for by his aunt Emma Wiedhofft who was married to William Wright Smith, eventual Regius Keeper of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. It was this association that was to shape Cooper's career - he travelled to Calcutta with Smith in 1907 when he became in charge of the Herbarium there, travelling and collecting botanical specimens in Sikkim, Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan. In 1910, Cooper and Smith returned, and Cooper took the Horticultural course at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.
In 1913, Cooper returned to the Himalayas to collect plants for A.K. Bulley of Ness, near Liverpool. He travelled through Sikkim in 1913, Bhutan in 1914-15, and the Punjab in 1916.
In 1921, after the First World War, during which Cooper served in the Indian Army, he was appointed Superintendent of the Botanic Garden at Maymo in the Shan Hills of Burma, eventually returning to Scotland in the late 1920's for the education of his son. From 1930-1934 Cooper worked at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh as the Garden Curator's assistant, taking the role of Curator (Head Gardener) himself in 1934, a post he held until his retirement in 1950. Post retirement, he and his wife Emily Bartusek moved to Westcliff-on-Sea in Essex.
During his career, Cooper became a Fellow of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, the Royal Anthropological Institute, the Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society, the Botanical Society of Edinburgh (now Scotland), the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Scottish Anthropological Society. He was also the vice-president of the Scottish Rock Garden Club, of which he was a founder member.

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