First ever 'dispersed' Collection on show at RHS Hampton Court

Visitors to the RHS Hampton court Palace Flower Show will have a unique opportunity to view the UK's first ever dispersed National Plant Collection, Calendula, which has been pioneered by Bristol Zoo Gardens.

The National Collection of Calendula (Marigolds) was established two years ago with the aim of bringing a new audience to botanic gardens, plant conservation and the joy of gardening. Calendula seeds were grown by schools and a number of community projects, and the plants were then displayed in the zoo’s gardens. Community groups which have taken part include sheltered housing groups, old people’s homes, dementia care units, community gardens, and allotment groups.
Research carried out on members of the groups who participated in the scheme has shown an increased knowledge in the flowers, plant conservation and National Plant Collections. Participants also showed evidence of community cohesion, an increased desire to improve their own environment and an improvement in self-esteem.
The impact on the elder volunteers has been particularly notable, bringing many people together who would otherwise go days without seeing anyone. One volunteer commented that the project made her “feel useful again.”
The project achieved full National Collection status earlier this year and is getting attention globally from Botanic Gardens as a potential model for attracting a new audience and engaging people with their local community.
The project at Bristol Zoo Gardens is an encouraging example that with guidance and training communities can play an active part in plant conservation. Plant Heritage is delighted that this Collection will be showcased in its marquee at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show this year.
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