Hampshire Primary school takes plant conservation to Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

Pupils at Hampshire based Wicor Primary school will be showing their conservation efforts at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show this year to encourage other young people to get involved in saving rare and threatened plants.
Pupils at the school have become the charity’s youngest members to sign up to the Plant Guardian Scheme, which was launched earlier this year aimed at encouraging anyone who would like to get involved in garden plant conservation but doesn’t have the space or time to own a National Plant Collection®.


Wicor Primary School was one of the first schools in the country to re-write its curriculum to include horticulture and gardening in the timetable, and to have outside lessons in the grounds under the supervision of Outdoor Learning Assistant, Louise Bryant. The school, based in Fareham, has worked with community gardeners in recent years to transform the grounds, and now opens to the public for the National Gardening Scheme twice a year.
With a love of Canna, Louise was delighted to be given two rare Canna ‘Chouchou’ plants whilst on a visit to the Hampshire based National Plant Collection of Canna, owned by Keith Hayward. The plant has not been available commercially since 1997 and has been listed as Threatened in Cultivation. Louise signed the school up with membership for Plant Heritage and registered them as Plant Guardians. She now plans to teach the children to propagate Canna ‘Chouchou’ with a view to sharing material in the future.
Pupils from the school will be in the Plant Heritage marquee on press day, 7th July, along with their plants and will be available to talk to journalists at our official opening at noon with James Wong.


Other Plant Guardian plants on display in the marquee will be Pelargonium ‘Pink Raspail which was enrolled in the scheme by member Sandra Tognarelli. The plant can be traced back to the 1920’s when it is known to have been housed in the conservatories of Pyrford Court, near Woking, then home to the Earl and Countess of Iveagh, where it covered the walls to a height of 3 metres.


When the house changed hands in 2001, the conservatories were cleared and the plants destroyed. However, Surrey Plant Heritage member Ron Smith had been given a few cuttings from the then head gardener, the late Bob Strudwick in 1984, and has propagated it ever since by taking cuttings and sharing them with PH members.
This Pelargonium has been propagated by several members of the Surrey group and has featured in the charity’s annual Plant Exchange. Member, Steve Thompson took a piece home to Nottingham where he propagated it and passed to friends including a retired nurseryman and horticulturist in the East Midlands group, Ron Evans.
Ron was delighted to renew his acquaintance with the plant, as his father had been Head Gardener to Lord Iveagh at Pyrford Court in the early years of the Second World War. Ron is sadly no longer with us but his plant, having made the journey back to its original family custodian, lives on.
Another Plant Guardian protected plant on display will be Erysimum ‘Lady Roborough’. National Collection Holder, Simon Weeks had been searching for the plant for a number of years to add to his Collection without success. Fearing it had been lost he was delighted when it was enrolled in the scheme by Devon Member Mike Squires. The two have arranged to meet at the show when Mike will give Simon a cutting.
To become a Plant Guardian, members need to register themselves and their rare plant on the Plant Heritage website (plantheritage.com). If they are not sure whether their plant is rare they need not worry, all plants are checked by PH staff. If you would like to become a Plant Guardian and don’t have a plant, don’t worry – members can request free rare plants through the charity’s annual Plant Exchange. To discover more about the scheme, and join Plant Heritage please visit the website: http://www.nccpg.com/Plant-Guardians.aspx, or come and visit our marquee at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.


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