Plant Heritage approves four new National Plant Collections

Leading cultivated plant conservation charity, Plant Heritage, has approved four new National Plant Collections®. There are two new Iris Collections bringing the total number to 20: one celebrating plants from a noted breeder, and the first ever Iris Collection to mark plants bred in a particular town. Also approved are the first ever Collections of Correa and Deschampsia.

Bryan Dodsworth was one of the leading hybridisers of Tall Bearded irises in the UK during the 20th century. Awarded 12 Dykes Medals (an annual award for outstanding iris), he has been described as the creator of the ‘quintessential modern British iris’. Bryan registered less than 50 cultivars in his search for perfection in form and colour over 40 years, despite producing close to 100,000 seedlings. His criteria for selection were rigorous and uncompromising so what remains is of exceptional quality and worthy of conservation. Since his father’s death in 2009, Bryan’s son Simon Dodsworth has been working to conserve the Collection based in Norfolk, with Barry Emmerson, current British Iris Society President. Barry was mentored by Bryan for nearly 20 years and his knowledge of the Collection has been invaluable. Simon is determined to ensure that his father’s work survives and that his achievements gain the recognition they deserve. He explains,

“My father’s legacy provides a gene bank of exceptional irises and includes many top drawer seedlings that have not yet been registered and are largely unknown to the Iris world, let alone the general gardening public”. 

Sue Applegate is conserving specific cultivars of Intermediate Bearded Iris that were bred in the town of Langport, Somerset. The plants were mostly bred in the 1970s by John Lloyd, a previous owner of Kelways Nurseries. John bred around 60 cultivars of the Langport Iris, many of which include the names of birds or mythological titles such as ‘Langport Wren’ (AGM) ‘Langport Swift’, ‘Langport Cherub’ or ‘Langport Sultan’. As many of the Langport cultivars are no longer commercially propagated, Sue, a previous Kelways employee, is cultivating and conserving them herself. So far Sue has collected divisions from approximately half of the cultivars that were bred with the help of donations of plants from local Gardening Club Members. This is the first National Plant Collection of Iris to focus on one particular village, town or location. 

A new National Plant Collection of Deschampsia is based in the Walled Gardens of Cannington within the grounds 
of a medieval priory in Somerset and is owned by Bridgwater College, a leading provider of land-based education. Deschampsia are ornamental grasses named after the French Physician and naturalist, Louis Auguste Deschamps (1765-1842). Over 40 species have been identified world-wide, three of which are found in the British Isles (Deschampsia cespitosa, D. flexuosa and D. setacea). Deschampsia are generally pest-free, have a long season of interest and provide valuable structure and form into autumn and beyond. D. cespitosa has many practical uses and was found in a thatched cottage roof in Gloucestershire, dating back to 1460 or earlier. Samples of the 
thatched roof were sent to Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and to this day can still be viewed in their
 herbarium.

Known as Australian fuchsias, Correa is a genus of evergreen shrubs with striking bell-shaped flowers from autumn to spring. Dr JudyClark was awarded National Plant Collection status for her Collection in her Sussex garden and wants to promote wider cultivation of correas, which are relatively easy to grow and cope with most conditions where there is good drainage. They will grow happily in tubs and containers, placed against a sheltered wall or in a cool conservatory.
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