Plant Guardians Showcased at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

Visitors to the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show will have a unique opportunity to view some of the country’s rarest cultivated plants, which have been discovered and documented thanks to Plant Heritage’s Plant Guardian Scheme.
The scheme was launched earlier this year aimed at members who would like to get involved in garden plant conservation but don’t have the space or time to own a National Plant Collection®. Those who have a rare or threatened plant in their garden can sign up as a Plant Guardian, so that there is a formal record of the plant. The plant can be shared with other members and propagated to ensure its future conservation. So far, over 180 plants have been signed up, including a number of cultivars that were feared lost; horticultural experts such as Christine Walkden and Alan Titchmarsh have added their support for the scheme.
Speaking before the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show Alan said: “I would encourage anyone to join the Plant Guardian Scheme. By doing so, you too can be actively involved in conserving rare plants for future generations to enjoy.


The charity has a number of Plant Guardian plants on display in the Plant Heritage marquee, including the stunning and very rare Canna ‘Chouchou’ which has been registered by our youngest Plant Guardians, Wicor Primary School in Hampshire. The school was one of the first in the country to re-write its curriculum to include horticulture and gardening to its timetable using the help of community volunteers. National Collection Holder, Keith Hayward, donated two plants to the school when they visited his nursery, and signed them up as Plant Guardians. They will now be propagating the plants with the view to sharing material in future. Students from the school will be in the 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 will be Pelargonium ‘Pink Raspail’ which was signed up 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 PH 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 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 into 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 can find all the necessary information on the PH website. But 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, register a plant and join Plant Heritage please visit the website:, or come and visit our marquee at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.


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