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Henderson, Douglas Mackay

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Henderson, Douglas Mackay

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  • Douglas M. Henderson
  • Douglas Henderson
  • Douglas Mackay Henderson

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Born Perthshire 1927, died Ross-shire 2007
Douglas Henderson graduated BSc in botany from Edinburgh University in 1948, joining the civil service as a scientific officer in the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries that year. He moved to the Royal Botanic Garden as a senior scientific officer in 1951 and was head of the non-flowering plant collections until 1970. He was library supervisor from 1961 to 1970 and also lectured in botany and plant physiology. A mycologist by training, he was involved in the start of the British Fungus Flora project and co-authored a book on British Rust Fungi. He became an authority on British flora, especially the plants of the Highlands. Douglas Henderson was appointed Regius Keeper of the Royal Botanic Garden in 1970. His time in office saw extensive developments in the Garden including completion of new glasshouses, a new alpine area and an expanded range of exhibition houses. The wider estate also grew with the acquisition of Dawyck Botanic Garden in Peeblesshire. During his period of office herbarium specimens increased by 250,000 to 1.8 million, including collections from an expanding programme of worldwide botanical explorations. And there was a rapid expansion of the library with a doubling of stock to 75,000 volumes and a developing international reputation; he personally led the introduction of the first electron microscope. Inverleith House in the centre of the gardens was re-opened as an exhibition space and Henderson was active in encouraging public engagement and growing educational links. Towards the end of Henderson’s term of office in 1986 the Royal Botanic Garden gained new status as a non-departmental public body accountable to a Board of Trustees. Douglas Henderson was awarded the CBE in 1985 and retired in 1987, moving to Wester Ross where initially he took on the role of administrator of the National Trust gardens at Inverewe.
Sources: Deni Bown, ‘4 Gardens in One’; obituary folder


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