Fullers Mill creator and Perennial benefactor Bernard Tickner dies aged 93

Tributes have been paid to the creator of Fullers Mill and Perennial benefactor Bernard Tickner who has died aged 93.

Recent portrait of Bernard Tickner taken by Ginger Horticulture/Jonathan Ward

Tickner was awarded an MBE in in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in June for his services to wildlife conservation and horticulture and also published his memoir, A Scratch in the Soil, the same month. It tells the story of a rich and varied life, including his military service in East Africa, a distinguished career with Greene King as head brewer and creator of its award-winning draught Abbot Ale and his prominent role in the creation of Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s Lackford Lakes Reserve with generous gifts of land, finance and advocacy.

He also spent 60 years as a plantsman and maker of the garden at Fullers Mill, with the support of his wife Betzy. Before she died in 2002 they established a charitable trust to safeguard the long-term future of the gardens for public benefit. The Fullers Mill Trust was activated in 2004 to promote scientific, horticultural, botanical, scenic, educational, research and ecological objects including conservation of nature, improvement of horticultural methods, vocational training and enjoyment of the public. In January 2013 the assets and aspirations of the Fullers Mill Trust were transferred as a gift to Perennial.

Tickner's good friend and Perennial trustee Jim Buttress, who became chair of the Fullers Mill Garden Committee in 2013, said: "The chief executive of Perennial at the time, Richard Capewell, knew of my love of real ale and hoped Bernard and I would hit it off – we got on famously.

"Bernard was a gentleman through and through, it was so enjoyable to be in his company. He was very particular about his garden, which he had every right to be as it was his own. It gave Bernard tremendous pleasure that Perennial, a charity that looks after gardens and gardeners so well, were going to look after his."

Current Perennial chief executive Peter Newman said age was no barrier for Tickner, who continued to play a full role in the development of Fullers Mill until recently. Mainly self-taught as a gardener he read countless books on plants and horticulture and diligently studied Latin, Greek and botany. He was colour blind and so most interested in the sculptural quality of a plant, but was always amused to receive compliments on his colour schemes.

"Bernard was, to all those who knew him, a force to be reckoned with. His contribution to the local brewing industry in Suffolk has seen long-standing economic growth and worldwide renown for Greene King and his place in the world of horticulture, through the creation of Fullers Mill Garden and his subsequent gifting of it to Perennial, shall be his legacy for many generations to come," Newman added.

"I feel honoured to have known him and on behalf of all those at Perennial, I must thank him again for his generosity in bestowing his garden to our care and for his commitment to changing the lives of horticulturists for the better through his support of the only charity dedicated to their well-being."

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