Oral history of British science
Rothschild, Miriam (12 of 16) An Oral History of British Horticulture
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Rothschild, Miriam, 1908-2005 (speaker, female)
Brodie, Louise (speaker, female)
Part 12: She is an honorary doctor of science at 8 universities, though she never took exams. She became a Dame recently for her work on conservation. When she was in Oxford she fought for the law on homosexuality to be changed. Julian Huxley, EB Ford (Henry), Prof Darlington and Sir Ronald Fletcher produced a report for the Wolfenden Committee. She had seen how young men in Oxford could be blackmailed. Wild flowers lift the spirits. It was very slow to get going. Foreign seed is cheaper but frowned on by ecological bodies but Miriam Rothschild [MR] feels that plants have been coming in to this country for centuries. She has only one gardener now, as the wild flowers are run by the farm. The despatch of the seed is done from the garden, having been tested by the National Institute of Botany. MR does the correspondence and advice. The gardener, Peter Scott, does the wild roses, has been at Ashton for 12 years. Her employees always stay for a long time. MR thinks the future of wild flowers will be in parks, set aside, road verges as well as private gardens. The amount of pesticides and chemicals will have to be rationed. Butterflies are very attractive with wild flowers, story. MR always had bees, now others keep bees on her property. They did an experiment at Ashton before MR was married, and had 10 years with no chemicals of any sort. Tests were done and chemicals still came in. MR shocked. Story of her breeding caterpillars dying when fed on shop cabbages. MR has given Ashton Wold to her son. Experiment on ploughed field, untouched by man for 50 years, and records of what has come back there.
Interview with Dame Miriam Rothschild DBE FRS, naturalist and entomologist.