New National Plant Collections on allotments

Allotments are taking centre stage as locations for new National Plant Collections (NPC) according to horticultural conservation charity Plant Heritage.

This autumn, five new NPC have been awarded, held all or partly on allotments in Warwickshire and Kent.

Nestled between a variety of fruit and veg plots, Andrew Gladman from Binswood Allotment Society in Warwickshire holds collections of Kniphofia and Echinops on his allotment in Leamington Spar. This Kniphofia (red hot poker) collection is the result of Andrew’s passion for these plants and has been granted the status due to its size (the allotment has 149 different types). Andrew was shocked at the decline of Kniphofia over the years and that those available now are just over a fraction of the 1,000 cultivars ever bred and named. He aims to spread the word that Kniphofia are at risk and to see more planted in gardens across the country.

Andrew has always grown Echinops (globe thistles) but again was troubled to learn that they too were at risk of being lost to cultivation. Following extensive research and finding that almost all Echinops could be reproduced from seed, he now grows 11 species and 12 cultivars on his allotment.

In the Garden of England there are more allotments home to collections including Julian Reed’s collection of ferns. Sevenoaks based Julian has been awarded NPC status for his collection of Polystichum, or shield ferns – which is held over two sites – his allotment and garden.

Also in Kent are Adrian Thorne’s newly accredited Actaea and Veronica (Parahebe) collections – held partly in his own garden, but with all his collection’s back-up plants held on his allotment. Adrian’s Veronica (Parahebe) collection was born out of his passion for the plant, now classified under Veronica. With its six species and 21 taxa it is now the largest of its kind in the UK.

Vicki Cooke, Conservation Manager at Plant Heritage says: “There are a handful of National Plant Collections held on allotments across the country, but as they’re not the obvious location choice for a collection they’re often overlooked. These five new collections reinforce that you don’t need a garden or large plot of land to hold a National Plant Collection, and that a variety of plants from iconic red hot pokers to understated ferns can thrive on allotments. We hope this encourages more people to start thinking of places that they could hold a National Plant Collection, whether on an allotment, a community garden or a school.”

There are now 695 Plant Heritage National Plant Collections, found in a range of locations from living rooms and balconies to conservatories and private gardens. To find your nearest collection, visit: www.plantheritage/org.uk/national-plant-collections.

Image credits: ©Andrew Gladman (pictured above left and right: Andrew’s allotment)

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