My Aunty Betty at Kew Gardens

Further to my post on The Knowlman Family , I wanted to know more about my Aunty Betty. The Archives Department at Kew Gardens have been very helpful and provided the information below, as well as well as twenty pages of original letters and recommendations from the time. In short, she was knowledgeable, skilled, polite and friendly.


Dear Mr Knowlman,

Thank you for your enquiry.

Betty was employed at Kew from 1 Jan 1945-12 Oct 1945.
We have a staff file for her which includes her letter of application to work at Kew (8 Oct 1944).
In this letter Betty explains that she trained at Oaklands for 8 months and passed the R.H.S. general senior examination.

She was then employed for 3 months at Messrs Maxwell and Beale, heather specialists in Dorset, before returning to Oaklands and then moving to Kew.

She was employed in the glasshouses at Kew “particularly on food production with the remaining hours devoted to the maintenance of the glasshouse collections”.

The file also contains a letter from Betty seeking a reference (21 December 1947) as she was applying for a horticultural job in Canada.

I’m afraid we do not have any photographs of Betty’s time here at Kew.


How her and Robert must have fallen for each other? What did her mum, her sisters think? I am pretty sure my dad would have seen it as an adventure.

Here is the correspondent between Betty and Kew Gardens.

Elizabeth Knowlman

Author: Andrew Knowlman

I am a 50-year old father of two children, married to Jane. I live in Hertfordshire, UK. I was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis in April 2015.

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