History of the Barbados Horticultural Society
The Barbados Horticultural Society was formed in 1927 by a group of thirteen horticultural enthusiasts, led by Mr H N Leacock, who was the first President with a Committee to run the Society which format continues to this day. These have always been voluntary workers. From the beginning the Society has been affiliated to the Royal Horticultural Society, an affiliation that has continued to the present time. The Society was incorporated by an Act of Legislature on April 19th 1928.
The Society has taken up the mandate of promoting horticulture and facilitating its development in Barbados. It is a non-profit, non-governmental organization with a membership of over three hundred. Through the ensuing years, the Society paid particular attention to the aspect of exhibitions, mostly in conjunction with the Agricultural Society. For about the last twenty years, the Society staged its own shows.
Through the fifties, sixties and early seventies, there was a growing realization that the Society should own its own headquarters, and fund-raising to help achieve this objective became a priority.
1976 – The Society had raised $40,000, enough to enter into an agreement with Ridge Ltd to purchase an old boiling house of substantial coral stone construction at Balls, Christ Church . This was now the basis of the exhibition hall.
1977 – Four acres of arable land adjoining this property was purchased.
1978 – The Society agreed to purchase the “one hundred year old” Mill Tower dated 1866 and 58,000 sq ft of land adjoining the original property.
1987 – A further 7.6 acres of arable land east of the property was purchased with the view that this would some day be the site of a beautifully landscaped garden.
Between 1927 and 1976 when the Society bought the old Boiling House at Balls Plantation for their headquarters, the Annual Flower Show was held at various people’s homes but more often at Queens Park . The first Annual Flower Show was held in 1928 a year after the Society was formed and the entrance fee for adults was one shilling.
Now the Barbados Horticultural Society’s calendar reads thus:
Each Sunday throughout January and February various private gardens are opened to the public for a small fee. This was started in 1988 by Christopher Leacock and Jean Robinson.
End of January the Society holds its Annual Flower and Garden Show which event lasts two days and is the biggest fundraiser for the Society.
End of February the Society participates in Agrofest by mounting a big floral exhibit.
Mid May the team for Chelsea leaves for London . Before this can happen flowers and foliage are collected from all over the island cleaned, passed by Plant Quarantine and with the help of about 25 people all packed carefully in between 50 and 60 boxes to be taken by British Airways to London. British Airways has never charged for the transporting of these flowers.
Chelsea – The Society has always taken a team of four persons with at least five more unpaid and going for the love of to work. At least five other people based in England come to work. After that is Press Day, when BBC and all other radio and talk shows of England roam the Marquee to take pictures, get interviews etc. Needless, to say this is hugely beneficial for the Tourist Industry in Barbados as to start with the RHS sells 100,000 tickets each year. So far the Society has won seventeen Gold medals, ten Silver Gilts and one Silver medal.
In 1994, the Society was invited by the Philadelphia Horticultural Society to be one of the main attractions at the Philadelphia Flower Show from March 6th – 13th 1994. The exhibit displayed was very well received and the reviews were excellent. Exhibits have been put up in Landesgartenschau, Germany as well as Charlston in North Carolina and more recently at the Canada Blooms Show in Toronto, Canada.
In 1996 the Society was awarded the Holford medal by the Royal Horticultural Society for the Best Amateur Exhibit for the Year in the UK .
“Art must be a guide, a leader in the evolution of mankind towards a higher spiritual goal.
None of the Arts is more able to do this than that of the garden. It is a living expression of peace and happiness, and therefore a great influence in the forming of a people.”