Irene Beeton - Australian Botanist
Irene Beeton was born in Withernwick (at 8 High Street) in 1920 (27th August). She was the daughter of Ernest Beeton and
Christiana Kearry - click here to see a photo of them with Irene's brother James.
She emigrated to Australia in 1960 (she travelled on the 15th March 1960, sailing on the SS Strathnaver),
also before or after this she also became an expert botanist. In particular she became an expert on the plants of Canberra, the capital of Australia.
Below are a couple of articles from the Canberra Times, so she was obviously well known there.
in Withernwick, England, on 27 August, 1920.
of Ernest Beeton and Christiana Kearry. Emigrated to Australia on 15 March
1960 on the SS Strathnaver, living briefly in both Adelaide and Perth
before settling in Canberra.
Beeton', as she was known to everyone, was on the staff of the Canberra
Botanic Gardens (now Australian National Botanic Gardens) from the early
1960s to the early 1970s. She organised the Gardens' flegling Library and
prepared popular flower arrangements in the public display areas of the
Gardens. She was the prime contributer, un-credited, to the first three
volumes of the booklets Growning
Native Plants which started in 1971, and to a set of
coloured one-page leaflets that preceeded them in 1968.
c. 480 herbarium collections span the years 1961 to 1976.
Canberra Times, Wednesday, November 5, 1969
Irene Beeton, was trained in England. In addition to the diploma of
horticulture which she gained from Studley College, Warwickshire, she also
holds a first class certificate from the Royal Horticultural Society of
London. After her arrival in Australia in 1960, she worked in an Adelaide
garden centre and then in Perth as a seed analyst. "The wild plants
of today are the cultivated ones of tomorrow", she expounded, adding
that by cultivation most plants are improved upon beyond recognition.
"Take the carrot for example. Like all our vegetables it was once a
wild species from which the present improved strain has been
Miss Beeton, who works principally in the library at the gardens, has
undertaken a number of dried flowers and foliage arrangements for display
purposes. Having worked as a floral decorator in England she is indulging
in a favourite pastime while carrying out her main function as a collector
and compiler of botanical information. She has collected considerable
amounts on plants which might prove particularly attractive to gardeners
in Canberra. Looking for points like good foliage, flowers and branching
habits, she believes any plant must be studied and observed for at least
five years before it is listed as one able to survive frosts, draughts
[sic] and climatic changes peculiar to an area."
Courier, Canberra, October 24, 1968
. . a number of colourful leaflets, just published by the Department of
the Interior, show how the native plants can be coaxed to grow in the home
garden. The leaflets are largely the work of a woman member of the staff
at the Black Mountain Botanic Garden. She is Miss Irene Beeton, of Watson,
who trained in horticulture in England and first came to Canberra in 1961.
. . Miss Beeton worked under Dr. Philips, the chief botanist, in the days
when Canberra's Botanic Gardens consisted of a wild area of Black Mountain
and a lot of plans on paper.
She wrote this little book (the front cover of which is below) in 1971, she was obviously quite a good artist as she
drew the illustration on the front cover. The book itself is basically a list of the types of plants and individual plants
that would grow in Canberra gardens.
Maybe it isn't the most exciting book ever, but a real curiosity that a Withernwick born woman's life was
obviously such an interesting adventure.
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