It may surprise you to know that in the garden, as well as on the catwalk, fashions change and evolve, often quicker than we expect. A plant that’s regarded as a ‘must have’ plant one minute, can soon be taken for granted and neglected, before being cast aside to make way for the latest modern plant introductions, when the superseded ‘must have’ plant is then at risk of being forgotten, often within a shorter time period than you might anticipate. Our fast evolving and progressive plant trends could result in the extinction of some of the plants that we once held dear. Unless gardeners are growing plants – plant cultivars or species that aren’t stocked by nurseries and garden centres are at risk of being forgotten, when they might become extinct and lost to us forever, often unintentionally, and perhaps before we even realise, or notice that they have fallen from favour and are now in decline. It’s all too easy to assume that your favourite plant will always be there, available to order, to purchase, and grow whenever you choose, but unless we are growing and propagating these plants ourselves, there’s no real guarantee, as often plant stocks are far lower than we expect.
Plant Heritage is a charitable organisation that works to protect plants, by encouraging the growing, propagation, distribution, and protection of plant species, hybrids, and cultivars. Plant Heritage’s aim is to maintain, support, and encourage the growing of a diverse range of all types of plants, from trees, grasses, shrubs, bulbs, corms, tubers, medicinal plants, edible plants, herbs, climbers, and wild, native plants and plant species: Plant Heritage care about plants from every single plant group, whether a plant is new or old, naturally occurring or an artificial hybrid!
Plant Heritage achieve their aims through raising awareness of plants, or groups of plants that members of the public may not even realise have fallen out of fashion and are now threatened and at risk. A plant might not currently be in vogue, but that doesn’t mean that the plant is not valuable. An out of fashion plant may hold great sentimental value, being representative of its time and part of a bygone era, therefore out of fashion plants hold precious memories for many of us. These plants are particularly interesting for those of us who have an affection for history. A threatened plant may be an important part of the history of a family, a business, or part of the meaningful past of a village, town, county, or area of the country.
Threatened plants’ may also be precious in terms of a plant’s genetics, a plant may be particularly suited to growing in specific areas of the country, a plant may succeed in a particular soil, be more adept at growing in times of drought, or in times of heavy rainfall in water logged soils, or a plant may be valued for its tolerance of cold or of high temperatures. A plant may flower earlier or later than other plants of its type, or have a greater resistance to pests or diseases. Plants often have great medicinal value, we are only just beginning to understand how some plants can improve and aid our own wellbeing and to discover how plants can help us. Who knows which plants will be required for the medicines of the future?
Plant Heritage facilitate a Plant Exchange, where Plant Heritage members can donate and receive plants. This Plant Exchange helps to keep endangered plants alive, by ensuring that plants are passed on to other gardeners who will take pleasure in growing and ideally propagating their plants, passing the plants that they produce onto other gardeners, thereby continuing the chain and enabling a more diverse range of plants to remain in cultivation, at sites all over the country.
Growing a single plant can help more than you may realise. Plant Heritage encourage gardeners who grow a rare plant to register with Plant Heritage as a Plant Guardian. The aim of the Plant Guardian scheme is to highlight plants that are rare in the wild, or in cultivation, to propagate these plants, distributing plant materials and cuttings to other gardeners, who will in turn grow on and then propagate their plants and distribute them. This cumulative effort can save a plant from extinction, often safeguarding the plant’s future, by creating a number of stock plants, which will each be grown in a variety of different locations, so as to alleviate the risk of all of the plant material being held and cared for by one gardener.
Plant Heritage support and encourage National Collection Holders to maintain a particular group of plants. National Collection Holders can be individuals, friends, couples, families, teams of work colleagues, or groups of people, who have taken a particular interest in a specific group of plants. Currently there are over six hundred and thirty National Plant Collections in existence! These range from National Collections set up to honour a particular plant breeder, for example Sarah Cook’s National Collection of Irises introduced by Sir Cedric Morris, or to safe guard plants from a particular location, such as Linda Heywood’s National Collection of Echium species and cultivars from Macaronesian Islands. There are many collections of fascinating plants like Nigel Hewitt-Cooper, of Hewitt-Cooper Carnivorous Plants’ National Collection of Drosera, Julian Reed holds a National Collection of Hardy Polypodium cultivars, while Jonathan Hogarth holds a National Collection of Small and Miniature Hostas. Fibrex Nurseries hold two National Collections, a National Collection of Hedera and a National Plant Collection of Pelargoniums. Not forgetting pollinator friendly plants – Jackie Currie holds a National Collection of Allium species, cultivars, and hybrids. These are just a tiny snapshot of the National Plant Collections held by passionate, dedicated gardeners, who are keen to grow, preserve, and conserve a specific section of plants for the future.
National Plant Collections protect and conserve the unique gene pool of cultivated plants. There are many ways that you can support Plant Heritage. You may wish to become a member, and/or you may wish to donate to support Plant Heritage. Plant Heritage members enjoy many benefits, they can attend a variety of horticultural talks, events, and workshops, and attend visits to gardens and nurseries.
I enjoy growing a large collection of miniature orchids. Some of my plants are rare, some of my plants can be challenging to grow. As I was growing a number of rare plants, I wanted to register these plants with Plant Heritage and create a National Plant Collection. In March 2018, Plant Heritage awarded me National Plant Collection Status for my collection of Miniature Aerangis and Angraecum species.
You can see a list of the miniature Aerangis and Angraecum species that I hold in my National Collection in the inventory below. You can click on a plant to discover more information about that particular orchid species. On each plant page you’ll also find links to each article I have written about that particular species. The growth and development of individual plants can be followed through my regular terrarium trial updates:
Other articles that may interest you……………….
I hold two National Collections, to read about my National Plant Collection of Phalaenopsis species, please click here.
To read about Jackie Currie’s National Collection of Alliums, please click here.
To read about Jonathan Hogarth’s National Collection of Hostas, please click here.
To see my photographs of the largest orchid in the world, please click here.
Click here to see all of the articles I have written about the plants in my National Plant Collections.
To read the first installment of my White Orchid Terrarium Trial, please click here.
To see my Rainforest Terrarium and discover the thinking behind my design, please click here.
To see a planting list of orchids, ferns and other plants that thrive when grown inside terrariums, bottle gardens and vivariums, please click here.
I have a large number of Phalaenopsis plants growing inside my Orchidarium, to read about how my Orchidarium was built, please click here.
To read about the new features of the 2017 BiOrbAir Terrarium, please click here.