The first steps in the revamping of much of Britain’s horticultural research set-up have been completed — and there is good news for ornamental growers.
Until now, the Horticulture Research International station at East Malling in Kent has been known for its research on fruit, with ornamentals playing a smaller role. Under the new scheme, staff will take on more research into ornamentals, if commisioned.
The changes recommended by last year’s quinquennial review of HRI were faråç reaching.
HRI Efford, in Hampshire, has closed and from 1 April, East Malling, along with some facilities at nearby Wye College will turn independent under the name East Malling Research.
HRI Wellesbourne, Warwickshire, and HRI Kirton, Lincolnshire, will come under the auspices of Warwick University as Warwick HRI.
Last week, the minister for horticulture Lord Whitty was in Kent and Warwickshire to sign documents establishing the new regimes.
Speaking at East Malling, he said: “This will provide a secure platform for research and development to benefit the UK horticulture industry. HRI can now concentrate on what it does best — delivering high-quality science for the horticulture industry and others.”
The Government is investing over £50 million in the new organisations, including £36.2 million over eight years for research and development at Warwick HRI, and £1.3 million over five years to maintain the vegetable gene bank as Wellesbourne. East Malling Research will get £12.3 million over six years for research and development.
After the signing at East Malling, Lord Whitty planted a tree — one of only 41 of its type in the world.
Landscaper and architect Harold Peto brought back specimens of Prunus iford from Asia in 1889.
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