Keith Hammett honoured

Well-known Auckland plant breeder Keith Hammett has been honoured by the Royal Horticulture Society with the awarding of the prestigious Veitch Memorial Medal for someone who has “made an outstanding contribution to the advancement and improvement of the science and practice of horticulture”.

He is the fifth New Zealander to be awarded the medal, the previous recipients being Leonard Cockayne (1932), Douglas Cook (1965), Jack Yeates (1968), and Bev McConnell (2012). Read a full list of winners here.

Keith is involved in all sorts of plant breeding but is best known for his contributions to sweet peas, dahlias and clivias – he has released some 300 commercial cultivars so far. Read a 2008 profile of Keith here (click on the pdf link).

Dr Keith Hammett with the presentation painting by Jan Beck. Photo: Sandra Simpson

At the Yates birthday event in Auckland on August 9 he was presented with a watercolour of one of his sweet peas by the late Jan Beck. Read about some of his sweet pea work in this 2012 UK article.

“The Veitch Medal came out of left field,” Keith said to me afterwards, “and this has too. I’m quite delighted though, it’s an honour for New Zealand.”

In his podium speech, Keith thanked Auckland Botanic Gardens director Jack Hobbs, who was present, for his help and support when he set up on his own account.

Keith regularly attends October’s Clivia Show in Tauranga and intends to be here again this year.

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