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People & Organisations

Botanical Society of Britain & Ireland

  • BSBI
  • Corporate body
  • 1836-present

The Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI) is a scientific society for the study of flora, plant distribution and taxonomy relating to Great Britain, Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. The society was founded as the Botanical Society of London in 1836, and became the Botanical Society of the British Isles, eventually changing to its current name in 2013. It includes both professional and amateur members and is the largest organisation devoted to botany in the British Isles (Wikipedia entry:

Bulley, Arthur Kilpin (1861-1942)

  • BUL
  • Person
  • 1861-1942

Born Cheshire 1861; died Cheshire 1942
Arthur Bulley was the thirteenth of fourteen children of a wealthy Liverpool cotton broker and on leaving school joined the family business. As a young man he had a love of wild plants and in 1897 bought 24 hectares of farmland at Ness near Neston on the Wirral to build a new family home and create a garden. In 1896 he had started a correspondence with Professor Isaac Bayley Balfour, Regius Keeper at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) who was to become his mentor and lifelong friend. In 1904 Bulley started a commercial nursery at Ness which, a few years later, became Bee’s Ltd., and the search for new seeds and plants was on. In that year Bayley Balfour recommended George Forrest as a collector to send to North West Yunnan, a joint enterprise with the RGBE, with Bulley providing the finance. This was the beginning of a series of sponsorships of professional plant collectors including Frank Kingdon Ward and Roland Edgar Cooper, again recommended by Bayley Balfour, who made several trips to China and the Himalayas to provide stocks for Bee’s Nursery. The Nursery, which moved to Sealand near Chester in 1911, was a thriving business which sold not only rare shrubs and alpine plants including primula and meconopsis but supplied ‘penny packets’ of seeds to Woolworths for over 50 years. Bulley retired from the family cotton firm in 1922 but continued sponsoring plant collecting expeditions all over the world, usually as part of a syndicate, and also subscribed to the first Everest expedition. Arthur Bulley was a keen Socialist, shrewd businessman, eccentric and visionary. Primula bulleyana was named after him and after his death his daughter bequeathed Ness Gardens to the University of Liverpool.
Sources: R. Desmond ‘Dictionary of British and Irish Botanists and Horticulturalists’; Brenda McLean ‘A Pioneering Plantsman’

Cowan, Alexander

  • COA
  • Person
  • 1863-1943

Born 1863; died 1943
Alex Cowan was the grandson of Alexander Cowan, a papermaker and local benefactor of Valleyfield House, Penicuik, Midlothian. Educated at Loretto School and Cambridge University he developed a love of the flowers and ferns which grew in the gardens of Valleyfield House and his home, Dalhousie Castle as well as the family’s country seat at Logan. He acquired plants while travelling in Europe and established an important fern collection. Cowan was made a fellow of the Botanical Society of Edinburgh in 1900 and was later its President from 1937 to 1939. He was secretary of the Alpine Botanical Club between 1903 and 1924 and, reflecting his knowledge of and interest in ferns, was President of the British Pteridological Society from 1909 to 1920. In his later years he developed an interest in breeding sheep in his farms in the Pentland Hills. Following the family tradition of public service he was Provost of Penicuik Town Council for nine years and served on Midlothian County Council for forty.
Sources: R. Desmond ‘Dictionary of British and Irish Botanists and Horticulturalists’; Transactions of Botanical Society of Edinburgh obituary 1943

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

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