Alan Titchmarsh thanks dedicated and 'eccentric' Plant Heritage Collection holders for safeguarding the future health of plants and gardens

During a speech on press day at RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2 July 2018, Alan Titchmarsh, President of the plant conservation charity Plant Heritage which is celebrating it's 40th anniversary this year, paid tribute to the hundreds of plant enthusiasts who dedicate themselves to curating National Plant Collections across the nation.

"Where would we be in Britain without enthusiasts, eccentrics even? We are lucky to have such a dedicated bunch who are prepared to dedicate themselves to one genus, sometimes of the more peculiar plants. These are the people who make sure that the genetic diversity of our plant material is conserved."

Alan highlighted the importance of conserving cultivated plants, saying

"We conserve our native, wild flowers, rightly so, but that doesn’t mean to say we can neglect our garden flowers. We’re safeguarding plant material which if it fell out of cultivation, it would leave us all the more poorer in terms of the future health of plants and gardens and indeed the planet."

He went on to thank Plant Heritage Collection holders and members for their wisdom and generosity saying,

"The best thing is they will give you information freely. When they say knowledge is power, gardeners know that knowledge is only power if you pass it on. Here’s to the next 40 years. Here’s to the next 400 years of Plant Heritage wisdom and generosity."

Alan handed the stage over to Plant Heritage founder, Chris Brickell, who emphasised that without National Plant Collections,

"We would have lost literally thousands of good garden plants. They would just have disappeared."

He then presented the Brickell Award for excellence in cultivated plant conservation to Sarah Cook, who built a historic collection of irises bred by Sir Cedric Morris. Sarah also thanked Plant Heritage without which she says "I would definitely never have made a proper collection of Cedric Morris irises."

She went on to encourage all plant lovers to get involved with Plant Heritage, saying,

"You don't have to be a plant collector, you can be a Plant Guardian and rescue just a single plant. Every plant we grow in our gardens has a story behind it."

National Plant Collection holders scooped up and number of medals in the Plant Heritage Zone of the Floral Marquee at RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2018, with gold medals awarded to Julian Reed for his display of Polypodium and Athyrium felix-femina ferns and Jackie Currie for her display of alliums, which also won best exhibit in the Plant Heritage Zone. As well as the 8 National Collection holders exhibiting in the Plant Heritage Zone, another 23 exhibiting across the Floral Marquee and Festival of Roses.

Squires Garden Centres built a stunning garden to celebrate Plant Heritage's 40th Anniversary, donating a number of plants. The centre of the garden featured a willow number 40 made by Water Willows, floating above a sea of lavender including 'Sweet Amelia' from Downderry Nursery in Kent and fragrant David Austin old roses such as Rosa 'Brother Cadfael'. 

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