Page 1

LOUIS

GENTIL.

A T the dawn of 1915, when the eyes of the whole world are turned on Belgium, it is particularly fitting that the President elect of the Kew Guild should be a son of that gallant country. The selection of M. Louis Gentil, however, is not inspired by feelings of entente. He is also one of the " Sons of K e w " who have made their mark in the world of horticulture. Few men of note follow the vocation of their earlier days, but M. Louis Gentil is one of the exceptions, for the wish to garden professionally has been his since early childhood. After having received a sound education, which included Latin and drawing, in preparation for his future career, he entered the School of Horticulture at Tournai, Belgium, remaining for 3 | years and being " first in examinations." Soon after finishing his course he came to London, to find employment for 6 months in the Petersham Nurseries, following this with 18 months in Messrs. James "Veitch & Sons' nursery at Ghelsea. He entered Kew in May 1896, where our friend's skill as a plantsman soon attracted attention. When he first came to England M. Gentil had little more than a schoolboy's knowledge of the English language and despaired of ever mastering it, because, as he wrote home, " the English speak so quickly." But during his Kew days he had become so conversant with English that he not only was able to write highly creditable resumes of the lectures but read a paper at the " Mutual" on " The Propagation of Plants," and was also an occasional contributor to the Gardeners' Chronicle. At the same time he wrote regularly to La Semaine Jlorticole and other gardening periodicals printed in French. H e left Kew in September 1897, to become Director of the Coffee and Cocoa Plantations at Equatorville, Congo, West Africa. The Journal of 1898 contains a racy account of his journey to the " Belgian Cemetery." His keenness, energy, and ability soon obtained recognition and his promotion to be Inspecteur Forestier of the Congo State. He did so well in this capacity that in less than two years he was appointed by the Belgian Government Curator of the Botanic Gardens at Brussels, and since his return to Europe has done much good work in those Gardens. I t is always the busy man who finds time to do things, so M. Gentil, amongst other work, edits the Tribune Horticole. Of the future of M. Gentil and the Brussels Botanic Garden who can say ? News from his stricken country percolates but slowly. A letter from the Guild sent via Holland the first week in November has been returned after two months' wandering, but a young Belgian who left Brussels at Christmas brought a card from M. Gentil with seasonable greetings to Mr. Watson. He writes, " l a m still alive, working, but for no salary. Our Government, I believe, is somewhere in France. Hurrah for England ! Here we trust entirely in England." This sticking to it in the face of almost overwhelming adversity is characteristic of the man. From his father, a well-known musician in Liege, now of immortal fame, he inherited much of the exuberance and excitability which is part of the Belgian temperament. His mother was an English lady, and from her came a leavening of stubbornness and imperturbability. M. Gentil was born in October 1874. A. C. B. r 2

V3s22p185 all  
V3s22p185 all  
Advertisement