Plant Heritage adds three new collections

Plant Heritage has three new collections - Agapanthus, Astrantia and Hardy Polypodium.

Ian Scroggy of Bali-Hai Nursery in County Antrim has been collecting Agapanthus for over 30 years and now has the Agapanthus (Reference Collection). He said: "I find that once a variety is sold out commercially, it’s hard to find again.’ He also believes that keeping a genetic pool of original plants is important for future breeding and in case of pest and disease breakout. He explains: ‘There is a better chance of older varieties proving more resistant than newer varieties, where the gene pool has been weakened."

The Astrantia cultivars (Horticultural Collection), previously held by Bob Taylor, was taken over by Dr Andrew Ward in 2016. The owner of Norwell Nurseries spent around six months transferring plants to their new site at his nursery where the plants are grown in five-litre pots on the stock bed (where they are watered automatically), and there are at least three of each established variety. New plants are grown in the ground and in polytunnels to bulk up.

The Hardy Polypodium (Horticultural Collection) belongs to Julian Reed, who first started growing ferns as a horticulture student in the late 1970s. When Martin Rickard considered giving up his Collection, he asked if Reed to take it on.

Plant Heritage’s Threatened Plants Project found that 16 cultivars of Polypodium are classed as ‘Threatened in cultivation’. Reed has 11 of these in his collection, thereby improving the conservation status of these fascinating plants.

Plant Heritage Conservation Officer Sophie Leguil said: ‘We are delighted to welcome three new and diverse Collections, all participating in our mission to preserve the UK’s cultivated plant diversity. I am particularly proud of our Collection Holders who have taken over existing Collections, thus ensuring that unique plant material is maintained for many more years to come. National Collections are also at the forefront of current issues, such as new pests and diseases. I hope that our new Collection in Ireland will help in the fight against the Agapanthus Gall Midge, a small fly that is becoming a problem in many gardens."


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