Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria
Born in Withernwick, England, on 27 August, 1920.
Daughter of Ernest Beeton and Christiana Kearry. Emigrated to Australia on 15 March 1960 on the SS Strathnaver, living briefly in both Adelaide and Perth before settling in Canberra.
'Miss Beeton', as she was known to everyone, was on the staff of the Canberra Botanic Gardens (now Australian National Botanic Gardens) from the early 1960s to the early 1970s. She organised the Gardens' fledgling Library and prepared popular flower arrangements in the public display areas of the Gardens. She was the prime contributor, un-credited, to the first three volumes of the booklets Growing Native Plants which started in 1971, and to a set of coloured one-page leaflets that preceded them in 1968.
Her c. 480 collections in CANB span the years 1961 to 1976.
from The Canberra Times, Wednesday, November 5, 1969
"Miss Irene Beeton, was trained in England. In addition to the diploma of horticulture which she gained from Studley College, Warwickshire, she also holds a first class certificate from the Royal Horticultural Society of London. After her arrival in Australia in 1960, she worked in an Adelaide garden centre and then in Perth as a seed analyst. 'The wild plants of today are the cultivated ones of tomorrow', she expounded, adding that by cultivation most plants are improved upon beyond recognition. 'Take the carrot for example. Like all our vegetables it was once a wild species from which the present improved strain has been developed'.
Lately Miss Beeton, who works principally in the library at the gardens, has undertaken a number of dried flowers and foliage arrangements for display purposes. Having worked as a floral decorator in England she is indulging in a favourite pastime while carrying out her main function as a collector and compiler of botanical information. She has collected considerable amounts on plants which might prove particularly attractive to gardeners in Canberra. Looking for points like good foliage, flowers and branching habits, she believes any plant must be studied and observed for at least five years before it is listed as one able to survive frosts, draughts [sic] and climatic changes peculiar to an area."
from The Courier, Canberra, October 24, 1968
". . . a number of colourful leaflets, just published by the Department of the Interior, show how the native plants can be coaxed to grow in the home garden. The leaflets are largely the work of a woman member of the staff at the Black Mountain Botanic Garden. She is Miss Irene Beeton, of Watson, who trained in horticulture in England and first came to Canberra in 1961. . . Miss Beeton worked under Dr. Phillips, the chief botanist, in the days when Canberra's Botanic Gardens consisted of a wild area of Black Mountain and a lot of plans on paper.
She returned to England after a year here and came back in 1964.
Miss Beeton drew the black and white illustrations [for the leaflets]...
'As well, I am organising a library for the garden. Although I did a lot of lecturing in England, I am afraid I don't have time for it here.' "
Source: Extracted from: The Canberra Times, Wednesday, November 5, 1969, page 20 'The women gardeners of Black Mountain'; The Courier October 24, 1968, 'Our native plants can be coaxed'; the Withernwick village website: http://www.withernwickvillage.co.uk/Irene-Beeton.htm (viewed February 2014); and the personal recollections of Murray Fagg.
Portrait Photo: Extracted from: a 1965 CBG group photo 35mm slide of unknown origin.