A series of posts from our volunteers …

Maggie Stevenson

Photograph of Maggie Stevenson in a garden
Maggie Stevenson, Library and Archives Volunteer.

I am Maggie, formerly an occupational therapist. Always a keen gardener, I completed the RHS (Level 2) Principles of Horticulture course at the Royal Botanic Garden and I wished to continue my connection with RBGE so by happenstance, volunteered to assist in the library. 

I began in 2015, sorting and recording Botanic Guidebooks from around the world – wonderful armchair travel! Then when Jimmy Ratter, a longstanding RBGE staff member retired fully, I helped with archiving some of his work.  He was a foremost authority on cerrado and he recorded  some wonderful stories describing his early days in Brazil as a visiting RBGE botanist which were fascinating.   Other projects have been to record digitally and repackage some of Robert Moyes Adams negatives, a RBGE photographer of the early 20th century.   My favourite was probably writing some brief synopsis of a collection of Reginald Farrer’s letters, which had recently been gifted to the library when he was plant collecting in China.  Currently I am digitalising information on Tony Schilling’s slides of his plant expeditions and work at Godavari Botanical Garden in Nepal in the 1960s to 1980s which is of interest from my own trekking days in Nepal. 

Going to the library is like entering a magic box where all sorts of treasures are discovered and the library staff, especially Leonie and Graham, enlighten those who visit and volunteers alike with many nuggets of knowledge that no book or search could find.  It is a pleasure to meet other volunteers and staff in this restful atmosphere.