1936 - 2010
We are very sad to announce the death of Brian Rittershausen who died peacefully in Torbay Hospital on 23rd September aged 74. Brian was one of the second generation of orchid growers to run the internationally known Burnham Nurseries at Newton Abbot in Devon. He joined his father upon leaving school and was soon followed by his sister Wilma, and later by his wife Ann. Under his guidance the nursery was transformed from a ‘cottage industry’ to the highly respected position it holds throughout the world today. In addition to encouraging beginners to enjoy orchid growing as a hobby, Brian set up a conservation project, importing many rare species which are under threat of extinction in the wild, to raise and distribute to serious collectors.
Brian’s expertise took him around the world studying wild orchids in their natural habitats in India, Nepal and South America. He was a well-known figure at all the major events and exhibitions. He gave lecture tours in the US and Canada and lectured and judged at World Conferences in Miami, California and Glasgow. He sat on a number of committees and was a Royal Horticultural Society judge as well as a British Orchid Council judge. He was a regular exhibitor at Chelsea Flower Show for over 50 years during which time the nursery gained 20 Gold Medals and numerous Silver Medals.
For his many contributions to orchids Brian was awarded the RHS Gold Veitch Medal and, last year jointly with Wilma, the Westonbirt Orchid Medal for outstanding literary services to orchids. Together they published over 20 books. The nursery has also amassed over 100 RHS Awards of Merit, First Class Certificates and Certificates of Cultural Commendation. Many of these were for new hybrids raised by Brian.
Today the important work which he began 60 years ago is continued by his daughter Sara, who continues to run the nursery with her team of valued experts. With his knowledge and love of orchids, Brian had few equals. His loss will be felt throughout the orchid establishment.