• 4 June 2021 4:54 pm


Garden teams and volunteers begin three year project to catalogue plants
The UK’s biggest ever plant hunt begins today when gardeners and volunteers at Killerton in Devon kick off a survey that will cover tens of thousands of plants at more than eighty significant National Trust gardens.
The three year mammoth survey will capture details of the wide range of plants growing in National Trust gardens in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Head Gardeners will lead the teams of gardeners and volunteers in carrying out the survey. A photo will be taken of each plant, a GPS grid reference will be recorded using the latest digital technology and each plant will be identified by experts.
Information from all of the survey work carried out in the gardens will be entered into a central database. This will enable experts to identify which plants, trees or heritage vegetables need to be propagated at the new National Trust Plant Centre at Knightshayes Court in Devon. The propagation of plants will enable the Trust to replenish existing collections and make plants available to other properties.
Many of the Trust’s twenty working kitchen gardens will also be taking part in the survey. This will provide a much clearer picture of the rare and threatened heritage varieties of vegetables found in these gardens and which of them need to preserved and propagated for wider use.
Mike Calnan, Head of Parks and Gardens at the National Trust, says, “This is the biggest and most comprehensive plant survey ever undertaken in the UK. At the moment we have records for around five per cent of plants in National Trust gardens and this survey will take that figure to beyond 75 per cent in the next three years. Hundreds of staff and volunteers will help us catalogue the plants found in our gardens, something that we haven’t had the resource to carry out before.”
Phase one of the project will see gardens in Devon and Cornwall, Wales and Yorkshire and the North East surveyed. Many of the most famous gardens in the UK, from Sissinghurst in Kent to Stourhead in Wiltshire, will be taking part in the plant hunt.
Mike Calnan, continues, “We will be able to map out the thousands of rare species of plant in the care of the National Trust which have been bred by passionate plant collectors or gathered by plant hunters on expeditions during the last 400 years or so. We might even ‘discover’ plants that we didn’t know we had.”
Funding for this important project has come from Yorkshire and Clydesdale Banks, as part of their sponsorship of the National Trust’s Outdoor Programme. This sponsorship supports conservation, environmental and engagement activities in National Trust gardens and plays an integral part of the Bank’s commitment to protecting the environment, including an ongoing drive to reduce its Carbon Footprint.