The Martin McLaren Foundation was established in memory of a politician who grew up at Munstead (family home of Gertrude Jekyll) and Bodnant (one of the most popular National Trust gardens). Formerly known as the Martin McLaren Memorial Trust, the Foundation has been involved in garden education and exchange for over 30 years through the work of his wife, Nancy McLaren. As Chairman of an Exchange Horticultural Scholarship with the English Speaking Union and the Garden Club of America (GCA), she nurtured many young gardeners and was awarded the GCA’s lifetime achievement medal. This Exchange is now administered by the RHS through its bursaries scheme in conjunction with the GCA.
In 1992, after a tour to an Eastern Europe that was then emerging from communist rule, Nancy responded to requests from Polish gardeners to visit England and formed the Martin McLaren European Gardens Exchange Scheme. Gradually more European countries became involved in these 3-week exchanges for gardeners. Today many of those who run the great gardens of Europe and Britain have reason to be grateful for her vision. Part of the Scholarship was transferred to the National Trust in 2008 where it flourishes, providing opportunities for learning from and with colleagues in Europe.
The REEP McLAREN SCHOLARSHIP is a new venture responding to different climatic, political and social conditions but retaining the spirit of earlier work by inspiring understanding through gardening.