Event Details

Come to hear two of the world's greatest gardeners discuss the story of the golden age of plant hunting in China. The event is very generously hosted by The Embassy of Ireland. The speaker and moderator will be joining online; audience participation in this event however is not accessible online; it will be accessible only in person at the Embassy of Ireland.

WHAT: "The Plant Hunters in China: The Golden Age of Botanical Discovery and Conservation", a talk featuring Seamus O'Brien in conversation with Robin Lane-Fox for an in-person audience at the Embassy of Ireland. Audience participation is not available online.)

WHEN: Wednesday, November 2, 2022, from 7.00-8:00 PM Beijing Time; guests are welcome from 6.40pm.

WHERE: The Embassy of Ireland, Ritan Donglu 3, Chaoyang, Beijing 北京市朝阳区日坛东路3号 爱尔兰大使馆

MORE ABOUT THE EVENT: Seamus O'Brien will give a copiously illustrated talk covering the history of plant collecting in China, focused on the travels of British, Irish, French and American explorers from the late 18th century to the present, and the work they carried out with the aid of highly trained and highly skilled Chinese collectors. The talk will also demonstrate how the collections of these intrepid travellers reached the gardens of Europe and North America, and the importance these historic collections play in the preservation and conservation of China's incredibly rich biodiversity. Seamus delves into the ethnobotanical and ornamental uses of these plants and the impact they had on Western gardens and how Chinese botanical institutions are working towards the preservation of its rich and varied flora.

Robin Lane-Fox will moderate the talk.

The speaker and moderator will be livestreamed onto a large screen to an in-person gathering at The Irish Embassy. Audience participation in the event is not accessible online ; it will be accessible only in person at the Embassy of Ireland.

HOW MUCH: Free for invitees of the Embassy of Ireland and RASBJ members. Also free for members of partner RAS branches who happen to be in Beijing and register in the "special guests" category. RMB 150 for non-members. The Embassy of Ireland is generously providing refreshments. Numbers will be limited, please register and pay no later than Sunday October 30. If you wish to become an RASBJ member in order to attend this event, please sign up for membership at https://rasbj.org/membership/ at least 72 hours before the event.

HOW TO JOIN THE EVENT: Please click "Register" or "I Will Attend" and follow the instructions. After successful registration, you'll receive a confirmation email with a link to join the event. Please check your spam folder if you do not seem to have received it. (Note to non-members making online payment: If you encounter difficulties with WeChat Pay, you may wish to try Alipay instead.)

ENTRY PROCESS: Please bring a photo ID (such as a passport or ID card) plus confirmation of your registration. You may show a print-out of your registration confirmation, or the confirmation email on your cellphone.

COVID PRECAUTIONS: At the venue, attendees may be asked to scan their health app, undergo a temperature check, or show evidence of a negative COVID test no more than 72 hours before the event. Registrants will be updated about anti-COVID developments; if official restrictions require event cancellation, you'll be notified and refunded in full.


  • Seamus O'Brien (Speaker)

    Seamus O'Brien



    Seamus O’Brien is Head Gardener at the National Botanic Gardens, Kilmacurragh, Co. Wicklow, the country estate and rural annex of the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin in Dublin. He received his formal horticultural training at Glasnevin and also holds an International Diploma in Botanic Gardens Management from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    In the past he has been Head Gardener of several notable Irish gardens with historic plant collections, including Glanleam on Valentia Island, Co. Kerry famed for its southern hemisphere trees and shrubs, and Beech Park in Clonsilla, then renowned for one of the largest collections of herbaceous and alpine plants in Britain and Ireland. He returned to Glasnevin as a staff member in February 2000 and from there moved to manage the gardens at Kilmacurragh in May 2006.
    He has travelled extensively across the globe to study plants in their native habitats, most notably to China, Nepal, Tibet, California, Bhutan, Myanmar, Chile, Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand, and, in more recent times to India, including successive trips to the Sikkim Himalaya. From these expeditions, he has published two award winning books; In the Footsteps of Augustine Henry and his Chinese collectors (2011), and, In the Footsteps of Joseph Dalton Hooker: A Sikkim Adventure (2018). He also contributes to several publications including Curtis’s Botanical Magazine, The Irish Garden, the Irish Garden Plant Society newsletter and the International Dendrology Society Year Book.
    He lectures on garden history and botanical travel internationally and is a member of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Woody Plant Committee and is a judge of the RHS Early Spring Shows. Rhododendrons are a passion and he is Irish Branch Chairman of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Rhododendron Camellia and Magnolia Group. In 2018 Seamus was awarded the Royal Horticultural Society of Ireland’s Gold Medal of Honour, in 2021 he was made a Fellow of the Explorer’s Club (New York) and in 2022 he was awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s (UK) Loder Rhododendron Cup.
    He notably came to the Yangtse Valley in 2002 to rescue plants threatened with drowning .

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  • Robin Lane-Fox (Moderator)

    Robin Lane-Fox


    Robin Lane-Fox is a gardener who has written a weekly article on gardening for the Financial Times for over 50 years, and has hunted for plants all over the world . He is also a Professor of Classics at Oxford, best known for his work on Alexander the Great.

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Embassy of Ireland

Ri Tan Dong Lu 3
Beijing, Bei Jing, China

If you have any questions please contact RASBJ Communications

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