I suppose that, having said how much I am a fan of the VKG (Victorian Kitchen Garden) series, that I ought to spout a bit about some of the people in it and behind it. I’ve mentioned Harry and Ruth (the head gardener and the cook), and perhaps more of them another time, but I thought that next should come Peter Thoday. Peter ‘sits’ between the on-screen and off-screen world in the programmes. He does appear frequently in front of the camera but he was also involved with preparing the scripts with Keith Sheather, the Producer (and preparing Harry), and providing the voice-over to other scenes where he didn’t necessarily appear.
Peter was born in 1934 (you do the sums), the son of the head gardener at St. John's College, Cambridge. He joined the Cambridge University Botanic Garden as a horticultural student in the 1950’s, eventually entering academia himself and rising to Senior Lecturer in Landscape Management at the University of Bath. It was while he was here that his involvement with Jennifer Davies and the VKG began.
Passionate about his horticulture and accessibility to it, Peter has contributed to books on the subject of accessibility, is a former Trustee of the Sensory Trust, and is still an Associate of the Trust.
He is also a past-President of the Institute of Horticulture, was involved with the gardens at Heligan after Tim Smit ‘discovered’ them, and went on to be Horticultural Director on the Eden Project with Tim, after Heligan became established.
He has also written two books in his own right, ‘Two Blades of Grass’, and ‘Cultivar’, both covering the development of plant culture, starting from the earliest times. The latter was only finished and published a couple of years ago meaning that, with his lecturing and other work, Peter has gone on doing the job that he loves, well past when others might have retired.
I doubt, though, that he will escape being best-known for his appearances in VKG.
Because of his association with Cambridge University Botanic Garden (CUBG), when they began to collect audio memories of CUBG in the past, one of the people to contribute was Peter, and his recollections can be found here: http://voicingthegarden.com/voices/
The Cambridge University Botanic Gardens are open to the public (I haven’t been yet but they’re on my list). Information can be found here: http://www.botanic.cam.ac.uk/
and here: https://www.facebook.com/CambridgeUniversityBotanicGarden?fref=nf
In addition, Peter has added a commentary to some film shot in 1953 at the annual Summer Garden Party, here: http://www.botanic.cam.ac.uk/Botanic/NewsItem.aspx?p=27&ix=118