Collingwood Ingram

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Collingwood "Cherry" Ingram (30 October 1880–19 May 1981), ornithologist, plant collector and gardener, who was an authority on Japanese flowering cherries.

Personal life[edit]

Collingwood was a grandson of Herbert Ingram, founder of the Illustrated London News, son of Sir William Ingram, who succeeded Herbert as the owner of the paper, and brother of Bruce Ingram, editor from 1900–1963. On his mother’s side, he was descended from Edward Stirling, the son of a creole mother (a slave or a freed slave) and a Scottish plantation owner in Jamaica.[1] Edward Stirling made a fortune as pastoralist and owner of copper mines in Australia. Collingwood’s uncle, Sir Edward Charles Stirling, was a noted anthropologist, physiologist and museum director, with a great interest in the natural world. On the 17th Oct 1906 Collingwood married Florence Maude Laing, only child of Henry Rudolph Laing, they had four children. He was a Compass Officer with the Royal Flying Corps in World War I and Commander of his local Home Guard in Benenden, Kent, in World War II. He was a collector of Japanese art, especially netsuke, and left his collection to the British Museum.


In the early 1900s, Sir William Ingram employed Wilfred Stalker to collect bird skins in Australia for Collingwood to identify and catalogue at the London Natural History Museum, resulting in his first major publication.[2] In 1907 he collected in Japan and for his work there [3] he was made an Honorary Member of the Ornithological Society of Japan. However his main interest was in the field study of birds; he made the first record of marsh warblers breeding in Kent.[4] He was an accomplished bird artist.[5] A planned book on the birds of France was interrupted by the War and never completed, although part emerged as Birds of the Riviera in 1926. His 1916–18 journals record his war experiences and also his off-duty bird observations and sketches behind the lines in northern France. His published war diaries are packed with his pencil sketches of birds, people and landscapes. He interrogated pilots, including Charles Portal, on the height at which birds fly, resulting in a short paper after the War.[6] He was member of the British Ornithologists' Union for a record 81 years.

Plant collecting and gardening[edit]

After World War I, horticulture took over from ornithology as Collingwood Ingram’s dominant interest. He created his famous garden at The Grange in Benenden and collected plants across the world. His outstanding plant-collecting trips were to Japan in 1926 and South Africa in 1927.

By 1926, he was a world authority on Japanese cherries and was asked to address the Cherry Society in Japan on their national tree. It was on this visit that he was shown a painting of a beautiful white cherry, then thought to be extinct in Japan. He recognised it as one he had seen in a moribund state in a Sussex garden, the result of an early introduction from Japan. He had taken cuttings and so was able to re-introduce it to the gardening world as ‘Tai Haku’, the name meaning 'Great White Cherry'. In March 2016 a book on his contribution to the survival of Japanese cherries was published in Japan. The author is Naoko Abe, the publisher Iwanami Shoten, and the English translation of the title Cherry Ingram: the English Saviour of Japan's Cherry Blossoms. He introduced many Japanese and species cherries to this country, as well as a number of his own hybrids. His 1948 book Ornamental Cherries became a standard work. Ingram introduced many other new garden plants, the best known of which are probably Rubus x tridel ‘Benenden’ (Rubus deliciosus x Rubus trilobus) and the Rosemary ‘Benenden Blue’, a natural variant of Rosmarinus officinalis which he collected in Corsica. He also raised numerous other new garden plants, including many Rhododendron and Cistus hybrids.

As one of many generous acts, he gave a cherry plants to each of the Walkhurst cottages on Walkhurst Road, Benenden. One of the resulting cherry trees still stands along this road today.


  • Birds of the Riviera. 1926. Witherby, London.
  • Isles of the Seven Seas. 1936. Hutchinson, London.
  • Ornamental Cherries. 1948. Country Life, London.
  • In search of Birds. 1966. Witherby, London.
  • Garden of Memories. 1970. Witherby, London.
  • The Migration of the Swallow, 1974. Witherby, London.
  • Wings over the Western Front: the First World War Diaries of Collingwood Ingram, June 2014, Day Books, Oxfordshire.


  1. ^
  2. ^ On the birds of the Alexander district, Northern territory of South Australia, Ibis, 387–415, 1907
  3. ^ Ornithological notes from Japan, Ibis, 129–169, 1908
  4. ^ On the nesting of the marsh warbler in Kent, Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club, 15, 96, 1905
  5. ^ Many examples of his work are shown at
  6. ^ Notes on the height at which birds fly, Ibis, 321–325, 1919
  7. ^ IPNI.  Ingram.