Book launch of ‘phenomenal first-class researcher’ who died of cancer

Kate Minnis was diagnosed with cancer but was determined to carry on with her passion for researchin

Kate Minnis was diagnosed with cancer but was determined to carry on with her passion for researching and writing about historic gardens and landscapes. Picture: John Minnis - Credit: Archant

When researcher Kate Minnis died in the days after writing a book - her widow and best friend just knew there was one thing they had to do.

John Minnis and Lady Rose Hare launched Kate Minnis's book on Saturday, October 5. Picture: Danny Ba

John Minnis and Lady Rose Hare launched Kate Minnis's book on Saturday, October 5. Picture: Danny Bate - Credit: Archant

So they vowed to carry on her work in her honour, get it published and now over 100 people have gathered to see it launched.

Mrs Minnis, a researcher with the Norfolk Gardens Trust, died of cancer in December 2018 days after finishing her book on the history of Stow Hall Gardens in Stow Bardolph.

Her and her husband John Minnis moved to Downham Market from Kent nine years ago.

The 62-year-old did not get to see her book published but her husband and friends were determined to make sure her work was completed.

Drone shot of Stow Gardens. Picture: Jocelyn Stuart

Drone shot of Stow Gardens. Picture: Jocelyn Stuart - Credit: Archant


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People from the village and those that work at Stow Gardens attended the launch, hosted by Lady Rose Hare and husband John Minnis on Saturday, October 5.

Mrs Minnis, who had a MA in Garden History, began writing the book on the historic garden in the summer of 2015.

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It explores the garden's horticultural past, discussing the different garden styles and owners who helped shape it over the centuries.

Stow is thought to have been at the forefront of plant collecting and breeding of new varieties.

Mrs Minnis's husband and friend Sally Bate spent this summer piecing it all together in order for it to be published.

Mrs Bate said: "Kate was a phenomenal first-class researcher.

"She finished around three days before she died. She even went into hospital with her laptop.

"It was a very positive thing for her to be doing, despite all the treatment she was going through.

John Minnis and Lady Rose Hare launched Kate Minnis's book on Saturday, October 5. Picture: Sally Ba

John Minnis and Lady Rose Hare launched Kate Minnis's book on Saturday, October 5. Picture: Sally Bate - Credit: Archant

"She's a real loss to the Norfolk Gardening Trust research group.

"She was a humorous, supportive friend, who would come up with all the goods in our researching. I will miss her for both those reasons."

The 64-page book can be purchased at Church Farm Rare Breeds shop and Stow Gardens for £5 and at City Books in Norwich for £6.

Mrs Bate said: "The book is about how gardens can change and how they can survive the houses and buildings that were created around them.

John Minnis and Lady Rose Hare launched Kate Minnis's book on Saturday, October 5. Picture: Stow Est

John Minnis and Lady Rose Hare launched Kate Minnis's book on Saturday, October 5. Picture: Stow Estate Trust - Credit: Archant

"It's a really fascinating site, not enough people know it's there. The gardens became nationally well known."

Stow Gardens will hold its annual Apple Day on Saturday, October 13.

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