Plant Heritage welcomes 21 new National Plant Collections to its nationwide scheme

Plant Heritage, was delighted to welcome 21 new National Plant Collections® to its nationwide scheme in 2014.


Two new bulb collections were added to the scheme, including a collection of unusual Mediterranean bulbs Biarum, by David Stephens in Surrey, which smell from anything like rotting meat to lilac. Biarum are very rare in cultivation, David Stephens said:


“Mine is probably the most comprehensive collection of this genus to be found anywhere in the world. The purpose of the collection is for intellectual curiosity and pleasure.”


Also welcomed was possibly the most comprehensive collection of Lachenalia in the UK held by Bill Squire in Dorset. Bill got hooked on these South African bulbs after admiring them during a trip from Capetown up the West Coast to Kameskroon in 1999. Lachenalias come in a vast array of colours and scents, many species of which are threatened in the wild, but can be grown as house plants.


Last year Plant Heritage called for urgent action to safeguard the plight of heathers which, due to their loss of favour from gardeners in recent years, are at serious risk of being reduced to a handful of cultivars. Following this, two new heather collections were very warmly welcomed to the scheme last year including Daboecia at Holehird Gardens, home of the Lakeland Horticultural Society and an interesting collection of heathers at Nymans Garden in Haywards Heath that have a link to Sussex as a county, whether they have been bred in Sussex or take their name after a Sussex place.


Unusually, two new collections of water-loving plants joined the scheme including a collection of Caltha (water buttercups) and Water Irises both by Mark Haslett in Essex. Mark has been working with the previous Caltha Collection holder John Carter of Rowden Gardens, Devon with the aim to rebuild the old Caltha collection, he said:


“I have managed to trace some and have even found some new ones to take the collection forward once again. Some of the plants such as a rare variegated German Caltha are at present in the UK only held and being propagated in the collection here in Essex.”


Mark has plans to breed some new garden-worthy Irises, while conserving the rarer ones and he is currently working on a propagation method to help boost the numbers on slower growing varieties.


Also to join the scheme was wonderful collection of old double primroses Primula Vulgaris by Caroline Stone in Cornwall and a spectacular collection of Nepenthes (carnivorous pitcher plants) at Chester Zoo.


Plant Heritage Conservation Officer Sophie Leguil said:


“The array of National Collections that we have had the pleasure to add to the Scheme in 2014 is a testament to the diversity of plants grown in the UK and Ireland. From public parks to private back gardens, Plant Heritage National Collection Holders are working relentlessly to conserve, propagate and research rare and unusual plants. On behalf of Plant Heritage, I would like to wish lots of success to our new Collection Holders.”

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