Peter Kerley

Peter Kerley, 1994Supervisor of Display and Demonstration Areas (2006 – present), Garden Supervisor (1997 – 2006).  Horticulturalist and Arborist.

Peter Kerley joined the Cambridge University Botanic Garden as a horticultural trainee.  Peter has worked across the Botanic Garden in many different roles. For many years, he was the Garden’s Arborist, in charge of the historic tree and shrub collections, including the New Winter Garden. Following the retirement of Norman Villis in 1997, Peter became Garden Supervisor.  A period of ill-health saw Peter hand over the day-to-day running to colleague, Sally Petitt, in 2006.   Peter Kerley is now Supervisor of the Display and Demonstration section in the Botanic Garden.  Recent development projects include the design and construction of the Bee Borders outside the Glasshouse range, in 2008 and the Perennial Wildflower Meadows, including the 2013 drought-tolerant planting outside the entrance to Cory Lodge.

Image 2Peter Kerley has undertaken several plant collecting expeditions as part of the Botanic Garden’s policy to grow plants with known wild origin. In 1996, he accompanied Donald Pigott (1984 – 1995) to the Instituto de Ecologia in Xalapa, Mexico, to collect fruit and seeds from the mesophytic semi-deciduous cloud forest and coniferous forests of the Sierra Madre Orientale.  Peter was part of the expedition to Tbilisi, Georgian Republic of the Soviet Union in 1988, to collect seeds and fruits from the Caucasus region.

Peter Kerley (above left), with colleague, Paul Aston, outside the Glasshouse Range.  In 2013, Peter Kerley and Paul Aston led a horticultural workshop on ‘Making Meadows’.

The Perennial Wildflower Meadow plantings are modern displays based on scientific research.  The selection of the mixture of seeds in the plantings are designed to offer a drought-tolerant variety of flowering plants from season to season.  (Above & below left) The 2013 Perennial Wildflower Meadow outside Cory Lodge was developed by Olympic Meadow designer, Professor James Hitchmough.  (Above & below right)  The popular Bee Borders display, adjacent of the Glasshouse Range, demonstrates colourful pollen-rich flowers which attract bees and other pollinators.  Bee Borders highlight the need for gardeners to plant pollen-rich flowers in their gardens, as well as raising concerns about the declining numbers of bee populations.


Upson TM and Kerley P (2007) The Winter Garden at Cambridge University Botanic Garden. Sibbaldia, 5: 155-164
Kerley, P and Upson, TM (2006) Quercus x warburgii. Curtis’s Botanical Magazine 23: 77-83
Kerley, P, Hsu, E, Upson, TM and Franklin, D (2006) Champion and noteworthy trees. Curtis’s Botanical Magazine 23: 103-1114