A feast of new National Plant Collections® have been added to the NCCPG’s lists in recent weeks bringing the total to 658 throughout the UK and Ireland. The new collections, in 12 different counties, range from Perry Pears and the Burnet family (Sanguisorba) to Rosa spinosissima and Phyllostachys.

The sixteen new Collections have been added following detailed scrutiny from the NCCPG’s Plant Conservation Committee, chaired by Lord Lloyd Kenyon, which combines the knowledge of garden curators, botanists, CITES experts, herbarium specialists from the major horticultural institutions and expert plantsmen and women, who jointly assess each application for its contribution to plant conservation, science and education. 

Applicants for full NCCPG National Plant Collection status must accumulate as the basis for their collection at least 75% of the plants listed for their genus in the RHS Plantfinder. The plants - whether large trees or minute alpines - must be well established and thriving, and back-up specimens must be available against loss, to ensure the integrity and maintenance of the collection.  NCCPG National Plant Collection holders must also make provision for opening their collections to the public each year to fulfil NCCPG’s educational aims. 

Status can be granted as Provisional, where further plant growth establishment or other requirements are needed, Full, or Scientific. The higher award of Scientific Status for an existing Collection carries additional research obligations plus active dissemination of plant information to the public and horticultural community.  In this round of awards, Scientific Status has been granted to the Lakeland Horticultural Society’s NCCPG National Plant Collection of Hydrangea. 

The new NCCPG National Plant Collections granted are listed below 
Collection: Location: Holder/Status:

Akebia Hertfordshire Mrs H Wainstein Full
Asclepia Hampshire Mr B Clarke Full
Drosera South Wales Mr L Williams Full
Erigeron cvs. Gloucestershire Mrs M Sadler Full
Euonymus (deciduous) Suffolk Mr R Eley Full
Geum Kent Mrs S Martin Provisional
Hosta (miniature) Gloucestershire Ms D Grenfell & Mr R Grounds - Full
Iris, Tall Bearded, pre-1965 Lincolnshire Mr J Browse Full
Iris (Sir Cedric Morris cultivars) Suffolk Ms S Cook Provisional
Lapageria rosea Cornwall Mr C Pridham Provisional
Nerine bowdenii Shropshire Mrs M Owen  Full - from Provisional
Phyllostachys Gloucestershire Mr P Rich  Full
Primula marginata Northumberland Ms R Hadden Full
Pyrus communis (Perry Pears) Gloucestershire Mr J Chapman Provisional
Rosa spinosissima Shropshire Mr P Boyd Full
Sanguisorba Northumberland Mrs S White Full

Plant notes, contributed by some of our new NCCPG National Plant Collection® Holders

• Erigeron cultivars:  Can vary from alpines of 5cm height to roughly 60cm. For a ‘well-behaved’ plant, try Erigeron ‘Rotesmeer’ - rich pink, and relatively tidy!

• Some species of Phyllostachys may provide food for Pandas in the wild, but in the UK they are being used by small birds as cover.  Phyllostachys leaves are also being woven into bird nests.  More consistently mild weather in the UK is resulting in taller canes being produced, less winter burn on leaves, and, once plants are ‘settled’ in position, milder weather can increase cane production.

• Miniature Hosta are those with a leaf blade area no greater than 3.5 square inches and with a clump height of no greater than 7 inches.  Snails are even more of a problem with these smaller plants since they can do proportionately more damage.  Grape waste from a local vineyard is being tested by National Plant Collection holder and British Hosta Society Vice-president Diana Grenfell as a deterrent.  These plants and many other Hosta species and varieties will be celebrated at the Silver Jubilee of the British Hosta Society at RHS Wisley Gardens in July 2007. 

• Perry Pear trees grow almost to the size of oak trees and may live up to 300 years:  they can grow in less amenable soils than apple trees.  There are well over 90 varieties in the new National Plant Collection; less than 10 have red flowers.  Global warming is benefiting the plants in one way, since it reduces damaging early frosts.  It takes roughly 20 years to establish a good crop for Perry-making - and it’s all too easy to make vinegar rather than Perry. Collection Holder Jim Chapman plans eventually to open a Perry heritage centre focussed on the Collection. 

• Gertrude Jekyll is reputed to have planted at least one Rosa spinosissima or Scotch rose in every garden she designed.  Collection Holder Peter Boyd first took an interest in these plants when, as a boy, he received a piece of one of these roses from a family friend. He is now an international expert on the species. At their peak of breeding in the 1820-30s, Rosa spinosissima’s single flowering habit was somewhat overtaken by the introduction of perpetual-flowering roses. However there is a resurgence of interest today due to their scent, drought resistance, cold resistance and soil tolerance.  New plants are being discovered as China’s flora becomes more well-documented. 

• Artist and plantsman Sir Cedris Morris bred over 60 mostly tall bearded Iris in his Suffolk garden in the 1950-60s.  New NCCPG National Plant Collection holder Sarah Cook, formerly with Sissinghurst, is undertaking detective work to trace and obtain all those that still exist and welcomes all helpful input from gardeners, librarians, nurseries and the public. 

• Beyond our native plant, other deciduous Euonymus first showed their spectacular autumn colour in Britain in the mid 1700s.  Since then many species have been brought in from Asia, Tibet and north America, with a range of autumn colour in leaf and seed. Tolerant of most soils, some species e.g. E. planipes, will fruit 3-4 years after planting.  Propagation is faster from cuttings than from seed.  Unusual varieties worth trying include E. oxyphyllus, and E. cornutus. 
• Primula marginata are alpine plants from height range of 500-3,000.  With fragrant flowers and evergreen rosettes of attractive silvery foliage, they enjoy shady conditions.  Their toothed leaves are covered in farina - a white or golden meal, giving rise to their common name of Silver–edged Primula.  They were a favourite of the Edwardian plant hunter, Reginald Farrer.

• Sanguisorba leaves were used to staunch the flow of blood, whereas Traditional Chinese Medicine uses the plant’s roots.  Sanguisorba plants mix  well  with ‘new perennial’ plantings of grasses and their airy, bottle-brush style flowers are good for wildlife, attracting hoverflies and bees.  Our British native is the salad burnet, Sanguisorba officinalis, about 60cm high.  Sanguisorba canadensis from north America is at the opposite end of the height scale, reaching about 2m high. 

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