William Campbell – SRS President

My role as president is to chair the twice yearly committee meetings, oversee the standing sub-committees, tours, show, membership and publications.

During my work life, I was in the Merchant Navy then an engineer with BP. After retiring from BP in 1999 I set off on my career as a gardener at Gargunnock House, by Stirling. My wife Fiona and I lived in the Stables block on the Estate and both became interested in the collection of 1950s hybrid Rhododendrons. Fiona spent hours looking for labels and putting names into a huge collection in a box in the workshops.

One morning my boss Sir James Stirling turned up with Ian Douglas and John Hammond to look at the rhododendrons. John was writing an article on the connection between the Campbell’s of Ardkinglass and the Gargunnock Campbell’s. After walking round taking notes and naming many of the hybrids, Fiona and I were persuaded to join the SRS. In a few months we visited the show in Oban and we must have shown interest because a few weeks later Ian Douglas called and asked if I would become Society Secretary. This was a job I did until Katrina Clow took in 2013. I also did a spell as Treasurer around that time and was the first Treasurer to apply for Gift Aid.

In 2008 I took over as Seed Exchange manager from the late Stephen Fox and it’s a job I still do today. The seed exchange has changed with no wild collected seed after 2013 as we comply with the Nagoya Protocol. The seed exchange has grown and we regularly have over 300 lots of different seed. As always, thanks to those who have donated seed over the years. When we talk of the seed exchange, I was one of the first to order seed each year from 2003 onwards, sowing and growing with a fair amount of success in my polytunnel at Gargunnock. Growing from seed not only fills your own garden but you can give plants to friends or sell them at plants sales. We regularly made several
hundred pounds for the Garden Scheme at our open days selling rhododendrons.

One of the most exciting part of my gardening journey has been on Botanical Expeditions. On these expeditions, I have been to Arunachal Pradesh 2006, Sichuan 2009 and 2012 with Ken Cox, then in 2016 to Sikkim. All these trips have been amazing and truly educational seeing plants in the wild. You make friends for life on these trips.

On retiring from Gargunnock in 2017, I have been doing Gardening consultancy work and of course planting up our little Garden in Doune Central Scotland. We already have about 100 rhododendrons planted, Fiona keeps notes on them all and as always keeps correcting my punctuation and spelling.

So that’s a bit about myself, please do not hesitate to contact me regarding any Society matters, or if you have ideas how we can grow the membership, just share it with us on your committee. Also if you think we are not doing as well as we should, tell us, it’s the only way.

Willie Campbell,