Plant Heritage announces new collections

Horticultural conservation charity, Plant Heritage, has accredited nine new National Plant Collections this autumn. Among them are two collections, one in Worcestershire and one in Scotland, that have been handed down from previous Collection Holders to the younger generation. The other seven are located in all corners of the country and include the UK’s first Alcea (Hollyhock) National Plant Collection in Lincolnshire.

Two of the new collections really embody the lifecycle of the National Plant Collections and show how they can continue to thrive despite being cared for by different Collection Holders.

Benjamin Matthews, for example, has collected Hosta in Worcestershire for the last 20 years. Just two miles away lived Una Dunnett, who also had a collection of British Hosta. When he met Una, he started helping her in her garden and last year took over Una’s collection. He now has a growing collection, specialising in British hybridised introductions.(pictured left)

In Dumfries and Galloway you will find a new Scilla (Chionodoxa) collection that was created by the well-respected Dr Alan Dickinson, who sadly passed away a few years ago. New Collection Holder, Helen Knowles, has taken on this well-known established collection and will care for it in Alan’s memory.(banner above)

Vicki Cooke, Conservation Manager at Plant Heritage says: “Any National Plant Collection is special, but ones that have been handed down to the next generation really stand out. Ensuring that plants and all the knowledge associated with them are kept safe is what Plant Heritage is all about. Both Benjamin and Helen’s new collections really symbolise this, and I’m certain that their ongoing work will enable future generations to enjoy Hosta and Scilla as much as we currently do.

Each year the charity accredits new National Plant Collections, whose collection holders are at the start of their journey. In September a further seven collections were awarded including the first ever Alcea (Hollyhock) collection cared for by Jonathan Sheppard in Lincolnshire.

Vicki Cooke says: “Alcea, or Hollyhocks by their common name, are a typical cottage garden favourite, so it’s quite surprising that there hasn’t been a National Plant Collection of them until now. Jonathan’s collection in the summer is bursting with pink, purple, white, red and yellow flowers from his 65 different types of Alcea and is a perfect example of someone with a love for a specific plant who wants to make a difference. What’s also really fantastic about this new collection is that Alcea was listed on our Missing Genera list in 2018, so we’re delighted that Jonathan has set up this National Plant Collection, which will help to keep these beautiful cultivars from being lost from our gardens.”

The other six new collections include a Crocosmia collection in Kent (found both in a private garden and at Canterbury Cathedral;, Brugmansia, nestled in the Wye Valley AONB; a Meconopsis collection comprising 46 cultivars in Stirling, Scotland; a Malus collection, comprising apple varieties from Sussex, located in an old orchard grazed by cattle and sheep at the base of the South Downs; a historical collection of plants bred or named after those associated with Marwood Hill Gardens in Devon and the second ever Chlorophytum comosum collection (spider plant) located outside Coventry.

There are over 650 National Plant Collections across the UK. To find your nearest ones, visit www.plantheritage.org.uk

Picture credits: Benjamin Matthew’s Hosta Collection (above left) © & credit: Benjamin Matthews; banner: Scilla (Chionodoxa) © and credit Helen Knowles. Top Centre: Alcea ‘Halo Apricot’ (centre) credit Jonathan Sheppard.

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