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UK: New National Collections at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

This year cultivated plant conservation charity, Plant Heritage, will be showcasing 10 of their specialist National Plant Collections in the Plant Heritage zone, at the centre of the Floral Marque at RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. Of these, five National Plant Collections are being exhibited for the first time: Crassula, Allium, Polypodium, Saxifraga and Roscoea. The Australasian Plant Society will also be in the Plant Heritage Zone, celebrating the Plant Guardian scheme with a spectacular display that includes another nine different National Plant Collections as well as many rare and unusual plants.

On Plant Heritage’s own stand, it will be highlighting its Missing Genera campaign, with a selection of plants on display, such as Arisaema and Verbena which are currently not represented within National Plant Collections. The charity is calling on anyone with a passion for plants to learn more about the campaign and to encourage people to bring together a National Plant Collection of their own. The Plant Heritage stand will also have a small display of plants from the famous historic Collection of Queen Mary II’s Exoticks based at Hampton Court Palace, with reproduction 17th century pots made by Wychford Pottery. Mary II (r1689-1694) had one of the largest private collections of plants in the world, having plants imported from the Mediterranean, Virginia, the Caribbean and Mauritius for display at Hampton Court Palace. Parts of Mary’s collection survived until the First World War when lack of manpower and attention led to the last plants dying out. Since 1987, the Gardens & Estate team have researched the specimens in Mary’s collection and brought them back to Hampton Court.

As well as having the opportunity to meet with National Plant Collection Holders, visitors to the Plant Heritage stand will be able to talk to the charity’s staff and members and visit the charity’s well known Seed Shop to purchase all sorts of seed varieties, including some rare and unusual ones.

Sarah Quarterman, CEO at Plant Heritage said: “We’re really looking forward to welcoming as many visitors as possible to Plant Heritage zone at this year’s RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. Our zone promises to show educational and inspiring displays to help visitors to learn more about the state of the nation’s plants and the importance of conserving the diversity of cultivated plants in the UK. We’ll have a display of our Missing Genera – ten plant groups which currently are missing from National Plant Collections and asking visitors to consider what their plant passions are and whether they can help us conserve them by starting a Collection of one of these plants.”
Details of National Plant Collection displays in the Plant Heritage Zone:

Crassula – Amanda Whittaker
Amanda Whittaker’s Collection of Crassula species will be displayed with magnified photographs to show the amazing anatomy of this diverse and extensive genus of tiny South African succulents. Amanda will also display cuttings in a “tableau”, based on the style of the work used by specialist nursery, Arée Succulentes, in France. A “tableau” is a tight-knit planting of cuttings in a container, using their form, shape and colour to decide their position, and can make a stunning table centrepiece.

Allium - Jackie Currie
Jackie Currie’s Collection of Allium species, cultivars and hybrids (excluding cepa, porrum and sativum) will be displayed in all their various stages. Jackie has collected and dried Allium seedpods to display, alongside bulbs of varying sizes (from 0.5cm to over 10cm), a variety of size, shape and colour of leaves and of course in alliums in glorious flower. As well as well-known varieties, Jackie will display unusual and uncommon (but garden-worthy) alliums that work well in the border, such as A. nutans, A. senescens and A. wallichii. The latter is becoming rare in the wild as it has medicinal as well as culinary value. Jackie has had tried several methods to ensure her plants are at the right stage for the show – some April flowerers need to be held back, but unfortunately a rather enthusiastic refrigerator froze some in their pots! For plants that need to flower earlier, Jackie invested in a paraffin heater, which although initially worked well, resulted in an entirely black greenhouse one morning!

Polypodium – Julian Reed
Julian Reed is hoping to raise awareness of a genus of ferns called Polypodium. The genus thrives in shade, semi-shade and sun and prefers well-drained soil. They can often be found colonising tough-to-grow places, such as crevices in old walls. One of their most garden-worthy features is that they are wintergreen, with lush fronds displayed through the coldest and darkest months. He finds their history ‘phenomenal – they are probably the oldest clonal herbaceous plants’, and some in his Collection date from 1668. Julian will also be showcasing Nick Schroder’s National Collection of Athyrium, a genus of 180 species of terrestrial woodland ferns. It wasn’t until 1633 that Athyrium became separated from other fern genera. Linnaeus named the first specimen Polypodium filix-femina but it eventually became Athyrium. They are known as Lady Ferns because of their elegant nature. Julian will display the oldest named cultivar Polypodium cambricum ‘Richard Kayse’, which dates back to at least 1668. The species records date back to at least 1491, so could this be the oldest herbaceous plant?

Roscoea – Barry Clarke
For the first time ever, a display of purely Roscoea will be shown by Collection Holder, Barry Clarke, who will display some rare species as well as a new black flowered cultivar in launch. This new hybrid, Roscoea ‘Obsidian’, was tricky to create as the parent plants flower several months apart.

Hakonechloa – Philip Oostenbrink
The Japanese common name for Hakonechloa means ‘grass that knows the wind is blowing’ and Philip Oostenbrink is planning a representation of a Japanese courtyard garden from where Hakonechloa originate, to display his Collection. Running through the display will be a raked path resembling patterns used in Zen gardens, and the rocks on either side of the path are offcuts of Caen stone used at Canterbury Cathedral where the National Collection is held. Accent plants will include ferns, a Japanese maple and bamboo.

Dianthus – Jim Marshall
Jim Marshall holds two National Collections of Dianthus – Malmaisons and his new Collection of perpetual flowering carnations, which had been thought lost until Jim discovered them growing on an East Anglian estate. His circular display will include carnations that have not been shown for many years, such as plants from the 1920s to 1950s, for example, ‘Robert Allwood’ pre-1931, ‘Helena Allwood’ pre-1950 and ‘Monty's Pink’ 1953. Jim will also have even older Malmaison carnations on display from 1857 onwards.

Other displays in the Plant Heritage Zone
Johnathan Hogarth will be presenting his National Collection of small and miniature hostas with a Bonsai tree and silver Saxifraga from Adrian Young’s National Collection at Waterperry Gardens. Kristopher Harper who holds the National Plant Collection of Fuchsia bred by James Lye will include a timeline in his display of the life of James Lye, the Victorian fuchsia hybridiser from Market Lavington in Wiltshire. Paul Harris will also be displaying his stunningly colourful collection of Hemerocallis, and Sir Harold Hillier Gardens will show their collection of plants raised by Hilliers.

For more information:
Plant Heritage
12 Home Farm,
Loseley Park,
01483 447540

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