Veitch Lamppost Trail

Veitch Lamppost Trail

Find 17 painted lampposts around Exeter celebrating the local plant-hunter Veitch family. Each period cast-iron lamppost on the tour, has been painted by Kate Wilson, a botanical illustrator, depicting a different plant brought back to England by the Veitch family.

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The Veitch Lamppost Trail Map

1. Camillia Mildred Veitch

1. Camillia Mildred VeitchLamppost 1

1. Camillia Mildred Veitch
(Lamppost 1 of 17)

This trail starts in Elm Grove. The first lamppost is on the junction of Elm Grove Road and Howell Road, on the right hand side before the T junction.

The Veitch horticultural dynasty began with John Veitch (1752 - 1839).

The Veitch nursery introduced 232 orchids, some 500 greenhouse plants, 118 exotic ferns, about 50 conifers, 153 deciduous trees, 72 evergreen and climbing shrubs, 122 herbaceous and 37 bulbous plants from various corners of the globe.

John Veitch was born in Scotland, he served as an apprentice in Scotland and London before coming to work for Sir Thomas Acland at Killerton near Exeter. He eventually founded his own tree nursery at Budlake.

Robert (1823-1885) John's great grandson) and later Peter (1850 - 1927) lived in 11 Elm Grove Close, which is right next to this lamppost hence a great place to start this trail!
This lamppost is also shaded by a great Lucombe Oak,

The plant illustrated on this lamppost is the 'Camillia Mildred Veitch' the most popular of all the Camillias grown. A commemoration to Peter's daughter Mildred. After completing her education joined the family business in Exeter. Following her Peter's death in 1929, she took over the business although she retained the business name, "Robert Veitch and Son".

Description: Orchid pink. Large, semi-double to anemone form with loose centre. Compact, upright growth.

2. Clematis John Gould Veitch

2. Clematis John Gould Veitch

2. Clematis John Gould Veitch
(Lamppost 2 of 17)

Turn right at the end of Elm Grove Road, just after lamppost 1, onto Howell Road, turn first left onto Velwell Road to Lamppost 2 on the right hand side.

John Gould Veitch (1839-1870) was a horticulturist and traveller, one of the first Victorian plant hunters to visit Japan. A great-grandson of John Veitch, the founder of the Veitch horticulture dynasty, he also visited the Philippines, Australia, Fiji, and other Polynesian islands.

He brought back a number of the glasshouse plants in vogue at the time, such as Acalyphas, Cordylines, Codiaeums (Crotons) and Dracaenas, and, from Fiji, a palm of a new genus later named after him, Veitchia joannis.


The lampposts were painted by botanical illustration Kate Wilson in 2016.

Description: Large double or semi-double flowers, initially lavender blue but later fading rather to white with a hint of blue. Creamy-yellow anthers. Some growers claim to be able to detect a scent.

3. Clematis montana Rubens

3. Clematis montana Rubens

3. Clematis montana Rubens
(Lamppost 3 of 17)

From lamppost 2 continue on up Velwell Road and the 3rd lamppost is on the right hand side where the road curves around to the left.

Description: One of the most floriferous and rapid growing clematis varieties. Rubens is a pinkish form of the usual white Clematis montana

4. Magnolia stellata

4. Magnolia stellata

4. Magnolia stellata
(Lamppost 4 of 17)

Follow the curve around to the right onto Velwell Road, lamppost 4 is on the right hand side of the road.

Velwell Road circles the site of the original Veitch orchards.

John Veitch founded his own tree nursery at Budlake. This son James(1792-1863) expanded the business buying land at Mount Radford, Exeter. James's son, also James (1815-1869) continued this expansion by buying a nursery in Chelsea, London. For years the Veitch family ran successful nurseries in London and in Exeter, which had a great success in propagating plants brought back by the many plant hunters they sponsored.

Description: This is the smallest magnolia and one of the most popular, growing very slowly into a rounded bush.

5. Malus hupehensis

5. Malus hupehensis

5. Malus hupehensis
(Lamppost 5 of 17)

Following on from lamppost 4, the next stop is on the left hand side, still on Velwell Road.

The common name for this plant is Hupeh Crab, a species of Crab Apple native to central China and Western China it was introduced by Wilson for Veitch's nursery in 1900.

After James Veitch Snr died, the London and Exeter nurseries ran as separate businesses. Sir Harry Veitch took the Chelsea nursery to new heights while the Exeter business was run by Robert Veitch (1823-1885).

Description: It grows to 8m (25ft) has an upright habit with profuse white or pink tinted blossom in spring and bright yellow tinged red crab apples in the autumn.

6. Hydrangea macrophylla

6. Hydrangea macrophylla

6. Hydrangea macrophylla
(Lamppost 6 of 17)

Continue on Velwell Road, the next lamppost is on the right hand side mid way down the road.

Charles Maries (1851–1902) was an English botanist and plant collector who was sent by James Veitch & Sons of Chelsea, London to search for new hardy plants in Japan, China and Taiwan between 1877 and 1879; there he discovered over 500 new species which Veitch introduced to England. Amongst his finds, several bear his name, including Abies mariesii, Davallia mariesii, Hydrangea macrophylla "Mariesii", Platycodon grandiflorus "Mariesii" and Viburnum plicatum "Mariesii"

Description: Hydrangea macrophylla 'Veitchii' is a compact, lacecap hydrangea with glossy leaves and small blue flowers ringed with large white florets which mature to pink.

7. Hamamelis Mollis

7. Hamamelis Mollis

7. Hamamelis Mollis
(Lamppost 7 of 17)

Still following Velwell Road the next lamppost is on the left hand side, just before the road bends left, back round on itself.

After James Veitch Snr died (in 1863), the London and Exeter nurseries ran as separate businesses. Sir Harry Veitch took the Chelsea nursery to new heights while the Exeter business was run by Robert Veitch (1823-1885) who continued to expand onto a nursery site in the New North Road (the next street over from here) and a High Street shop.

The Hamamelis mollis was discovered by Charles Maries. He discovered the winter-flowering Chinese witch hazel (Hamamelis mollis) in Juijing (Kuikiang) in Jiangxi, China. Owing to an oversight at Coombe Wood, the plant did not find its place in the English garden for a further twenty years.

Description: a large deciduous shrub with broad, oval leaves turning yellow in winter, and strongly fragrant, bright golden-yellow flowers in late winter

8. Magnolia

8. Magnolia

8. Magnolia
(Lamppost 8 of 17)

Rounding the bend on Velwell Road lamppost 8 is on the left hand side of the road, just before the first entrance to the Bury Meadow Park.

Magnolia x veitchii is a hybrid created in 1907 by Peter Veitch at the Royal Nurseries in England. Its exquisite pink-white chalice-shaped flowers are the result of Veitch's attempt to create a magnolia as beautiful as its parents, hardier and with an extended blooming season.

To create this hybrid, Veitch placed the pollen from a Magnolia denudata (jade lily) onto a flower of Magnolia campbellii (cup and saucer magnolia). The result was the first recorded hybrid of M. campbellii and a tree that embraced the best traits of both its parents.

Magnolia campbellii can take up to 10–12 years from vegetative propagation and up to 20 years to flower from seed

The Magnolia "Peter Veitch" can be seen today at Southernhay Gardens, just behind the High Street.

9. Lonicera tragophylla

9. Lonicera tragophylla

9. Lonicera tragophylla
(Lamppost 9 of 17)

This is the last stop on Howell Road. Lamppost 9 is on the left before you need to double back onto Elm Grove Road (where you started the trail).

Native of the province of Hupeh, China this plant was discovered by Henry and introduced for Messrs Veitch by Wilson in 1900.

Description: The Chinese Honeysuckle is a vigorous, deciduous climber. Whorls of pure yellow, trumpet-shaped flowers appear in mid-to late summer followed by red berries

The trail now continues down Elm Grove skirting Bury Meadow Park on your right hand side where there is a Veitch Information Board. Many parks and gardens in the city were laid out by the Veitch firm.

10. Tropaeolum azureum

10. Tropaeolum azureum

10. Tropaeolum azureum
(Lamppost 10 of 17)

Continue down Elm Grove Road, over the 'Clock tower' roundabout onto Queen's Terrace. Lamppost 10 is on the right hand side, close to the roundabout junction.

The Tropaeolum azureum was collected from William Lobb around 1842. A seed of a beautiful purple-blue nasturtium climber which William had found and collected from 'Cuesta Dormeda about sixteen leagues from Valparaiso'.

11. Garlanded lamppost

11. Garlanded lamppost
(Lamppost 11 of 17)

Continue down Queen's Terrace and take the first left onto Bystock Terrace. Lamppost 11 is on the left hand side.

The idea of the lamppost trail started because these historic cast iron lampposts were under threat of being removed. Residents of the St Davids and St James neighbourhoods wanted to preserve them and secured funding for their restoration. They were repainted in the original livery by Rob Gardner in 2015.

The tour ends in St David's Churchyard the resting place of two famous engineering firms' founders: "Iron Sam" Kingdom (1779 -1894) who ran the firm that became Garton & King in the first part of the 19th century and Henry Frederick Willey (1830-1894) who founded Willey's Foundry - at one time the largest employer in Exeter.

Willey's Foundry closed in the 1980s. The Garton & King Foundry closed in 1971, but Garton & King Appliances continues to trade today under the original gold hammer trade mark.

This Garton & King garlanded lamppost is a civic lamppost with ivy in relief and the city coat of arms on the base. it has been painted by sign-writer Mark Hill.

12. Crinodendron hookerianum

12. Crinodendron hookerianum

12. Crinodendron hookerianum
(Lamppost 12 of 17)

Turn right onto Richarmond Road and the next lamppost is on the left hand side.

In the 1830's the empire was growing and plant hunting for exotic species was increasingly popular. The Veitch family firm sponsored a number of expeditions to South America, China and Australasia to collect plants. Many were named after the collectors including Thomas Lobb and his brother William, Charles Maries, Ernest Wilson and Richard Pearce, a gardener at the Exeter Veitch Nursery.

These journeys were often difficult and dangerous and specimens and plant hunters were occasionally lost. The Veitch firm sent out 23 plant hunters over the years and by 1914 had transformed our gardens by introducing 1291 plants to this country.

The Crinodendron hookerianum or Chile Lantern Tree are evergreen shrubs or small trees, with leathery, dark green leaves and nodding, urn-shaped flowers in the leaf axils, flowing from late spring to late summer.

13 Lapageria rosea

13 Lapageria rosea

13 Lapageria rosea
(Lamppost 13 of 17)

Continue your way on Richmond Road opposite the entrance to the Richmond Road Car Park you'll find lamppost 13.

William Lobb found many extraordinary plants in South America in 1949. As well as the Crinodendron hookerianum, William found the climbing lily, Lapageria rosea (now the national flower of Chile). Sending the seeds back to James Veitch to grow in his glasshouse in Exeter, James knew that he had a prizewinning plant!

Also known as the Chilean Bellflower, (now the national flower of Chile) Lapageria is a twining climber, with ovate, evergreen leaves and large, pendent, waxy-textured, narrowly bell-shaped flowers in summer and autumn

14. Odontoglossom bictoniense

14. Odontoglossom bictoniense

14. Odontoglossom bictoniense
(Lamppost 14 of 17)

From lamppost 13 cross Richmond Road into Richmond Road Car Park and head to the far left hand corner to the path, where you'll find lamppost 14.

The 'Bicton Orchid' Odontoglossum bictoniense was the first of its genus to reach England alive and to flower in cultivation. It was found in the highland forests of Guatemala by the Scottish trader and naturalist Ure-Skinner, who was later to become a close friend of James Junior (1815-1865)

Bicton House, near Budleigh Salterton, east of Exeter was lived in by Lord John Rolle and his second wife, Lady Louisa who was an enthusiastic gardener. John and James Veitch spent many years supervising work, supplying plants and laying our new gardens and pleasure grounds at Bicton. Rolle allowed them to use the Killerton and Bicton gardens and glasshouses as testing grounds for Veitch introductions such as the Bicton Orchid.

15. Physalis alkekengi var. franchetii

15. Physalis alkekengi var. franchetii

15. Physalis alkekengi var. franchetii
(Lamppost 15 of 17)

From lamppost 14 cross over Russell Terrace and walk towards Silver Terrace with the small park on the left hand side. turn right onto Silver Terrance and follow the road around to the left, coming onto Queen's Terrace, turning first left on to St David's Church Path. There are three lampposts on this path, the first of which is lamppost 15 on the left.

In St David's Church Peter Veitch (1850-1929) the original John Veitch's great grandson.

Peter was employed by the London branch of the family business under his uncle James Veitch Jr in 1967. He was then sent to a seed-growing establishment in Germany, and then to a seed-house in France before returning to Chelsea.

Peter was employed by the family firm from 1856 under Harry Veitch. Peter travelled extensively in Australia, South Sea Islands, New Zealand and New Guinea. In 1880, he joined his father in the Exeter branch of the family business, bringing his experiences of French and German nurseries into the company as well as an element of flair from the Chelsea nursery. Peter Veitch was a plantsman with a keen interest in trees and shrubs which he turned into a speciality for the Exeter nurseries.

Physalis alkekengi var. franchetii is better known by its culinary name of Cape Gooseberry. Tiny, creamy-white flowers appear in midsummer above oval green foliage. This hardy perennial is mainly grown for its edible berries which later develop within red, papery Chinese Lantern calyces.

16. Parthenocissus tricuspidata

16. Parthenocissus tricuspidata

16. Parthenocissus tricuspidata
(Lamppost 16 of 17)

Continue on St David's Church Path, the next lamppost is midway down on the left hand side.

This plant was introduced by John Gould. John also contributed two of today's favourite magnolias, M. Liliflora 'Nigra' and M. stellate, plus a number of Japanese maples such as the popular Acer palmatum.

Commonly known as the Boston Ivy or the Japanese Creeper, Parthenocissus are vigorous deciduous climbers with either tendrils or disk-like suckers, and lobed or palmate leaves which often colour brilliantly in autumn. Inconspicuous green flowers are sometimes followed by attractive blue or black berries.

In 1931, the nurseries made their final move to larger premises in Alphington which were closer to another large site in Exminster. The interests in the High Street, Exeter were moved to Cathedral Close, and this shop and seed warehouse remained in business until the late 1960s.

17. Mutisia decurrens

17. Mutisia decurrens

17. Mutisia decurrens
(Lamppost 17 of 17)

Further along St David's Church Path you'll come to the 17th and last lamppost on this trail.

Mutisia decurrens is a native of Chile and Argentina; introduced for Messrs Veitch in 1859 by Richard Pearce. Except in comparatively few places it has not proved a success in this country, and is now uncommon.

Richard Pearce was from Plymouth joining Veitch in 1868 under Thomas Lobb. Pearce collected extensively in South America heading off on his first expedition in 1859 for a three year tour.

Later, whilst exploring in the Andes, Pearce discovered three varieties of tuberous begonia, which were introduced to England, and became the fore-runners of the many varieties now available.

Description: A suckering climber with sparsely branched stems up to 10 ft (3 m) on a suitable support. Its narrow leaves are sometimes toothed and end in tendrils by which it climbs. Its large bright orange daisies can be 6 in (15 cm) wide and are produced mainly in summer.

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My Veitch Lamppost Trail Notes

Veitch Lamppost Trail

Veitch Lamppost Trail

Find 17 painted lampposts around Exeter celebrating the local plant-hunter Veitch family. Each period cast-iron lamppost on the tour, has been painted by Kate Wilson, a botanical illustrator, depicting a different plant brought back to England by the Veitch family.

The Veitch Lampoost Trail celebrates Exeter’s famous Veitch family of plant-hunters and the city’s proud history of engineering. The route is a trail of lampposts close to significant Veitch points of interest. Each period cast-iron lamp post has been restored and then painted by botanical illustrator Kate Wilson to depict a different plant from the vast catalogue of plants brought back to England by the Veitch plant-hunters. The plants are familiar garden plants well-known and well-loved by gardeners throughout the country. The 17 decorated lampposts are in the area of the Veitch nurseries, a Veitch orchard and their family home .

The trail includes a 17th lamppost in Bystock Terrace. This is a ‘garlanded Garton & King’ civic lamp standard painted by signwriter Mark Hill. The civic lamp post is of particular interest because it is typical of special lamp posts which used to be erected in front of the homes of Exeter’s mayor.

More by Veitch Lamppost Trail

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    1. You hereby agree that we may assign, transfer, sub-contract or otherwise deal with our rights and/or obligations under these terms and conditions.
    2. You may not without our prior written consent assign, transfer, sub-contract or otherwise deal with any of your rights and/or obligations under these terms and conditions.
  19. Severability
    1. If a provision of these terms and conditions is determined by any court or other competent authority to be unlawful and/or unenforceable, the other provisions will continue in effect.
    2. If any unlawful and/or unenforceable provision of these terms and conditions would be lawful or enforceable if part of it were deleted, that part will be deemed to be deleted, and the rest of the provision will continue in effect.
  20. Third party rights
    1. These terms and conditions are for our benefit and your benefit, and are not intended to benefit or be enforceable by any third party.
    2. The exercise of the parties' rights under these terms and conditions is not subject to the consent of any third party.
  21. Law and jurisdiction
    1. These terms and conditions shall be governed by and construed in accordance with English law.
    2. Any disputes relating to these terms and conditions shall be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England.
  22. Our details
    1. This website is licensed and operated by Veitch Lamppost Trail.
    2. You can contact us by using by email to info@rammuseum.org.uk
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