The Veitch Legacy

25 June The Veitch Legacy
by Caradoc Doy

Caradoc Doy is a Horticulturalist and Topsham resident. He was born in Herefordshire but grew up here in Topsham, Caradoc worked initially at Seabrook Garden Centre whilst studying at Bicton College of Agriculture. He then undertook a three-year Diploma course in horticulture in Worcestershire. During the next ten years he worked at a variety of horticultural establishments around the country, returning in 2001 to Topsham and St Bridget Nurseries. It was at that point that he became interested in the Veitch family and their contribution to plant exploration and introduction. Since 2005 Caradoc has had his own horticultural business, giving talks and advice on growing plants.

When the Scot, John Veitch, arrived in Devon in the late 1700s to lay out the grounds of Killerton, the foundations were laid for the establishment of one of the most remarkable horticultural dynasties in Britain. John’s son, James, pioneered the sending of his own plant collectors abroad on behalf of his nursery on often-dangerous journeys in search of new plants, which was fuelled by the insatiable appetite of the Victorian gardening elite who would pay almost any price for a new exotic novelty. Over a period of 72 years the Veitch family sent 23 plant collectors across the globe in search of new plants.

Five generations of the Veitch family took charge of the nursery business, which was also involved in advising and creating fine designed landscapes and gardens. They introduced many hundreds of new plants, created the first official orchid hybrid and oversaw the arrival of the Wellingtonia tree.

In this illustrated talk Caradoc Doy will summarise the story of this remarkable firm, giving an account of the rise of the Veitch Nurseries from the early days in Exeter, and describing some of the South West landscapes influenced by Veitch.