Conservation from A to Z

It’s true. There really are conservation plants from Arabis alpina subsp. caucasia ‘Arctic Joy’ to Zantedeschia aethiopica ‘Glencoe’ and more than 40 others, ranging from tiny to statuesque, with something for all growing conditions.

The arabis has excellent variegated foliage and compact habit and is described as ‘a really lovely little plant that should not be lost’. The zantedeschia will be familiar to many as one of the star plants on our 2017 Chelsea stand, where it was said that ‘We could have sold at least 100 in the last-minute sale.’ Both of these and a range of others are grown in our Group.

Here are just a few examples:

Chrysanthemum ‘Dulwich Pink’ AGM, ‘a fantastic plant’;

Heuchera 'David', with its good leaf colour that remains tidy over winter and forms ‘a lovely foil for other plants’. The quotes are from feedback provided by Worcestershire growers.

The list includes several iris, including Iris 'Gypsy Queen'. I have a soft spot for this as it was introduced to the scheme by our own Jackie Davies who, incidentally, was my predecessor as Group Coordinator.

It also includes a small group of phlox, including Phlox paniculata 'Grey Lady', liked by everyone who grows it despite its misleading and off-putting name!

This year we welcomed three new growers - Judy Templeton, Lyn Maile and Marilyn Wrightson - but new team members are always welcome. You will find a list of conservation plants on the HPS website, along with pictures, which any member can request. Your request then triggers a further request to those already growing the plant, so that they can propagate it to bring along to the next national exchange meeting in September 2018.

Lastly, to give you some idea of the scale of this operation, this year over 200 plants were propagated despite sometimes difficult growing conditions. Sorting so many plants in a morning is, as I can testify, jolly hard work!

Jenny Constant
October 2017

Jenny is the Conservation Scheme Coordinator for Worcestershire Group

Worcestershire Group helps to rescue ‘Gypsy Queen’

Have you ever been tempted by the bewildering display of Heucheras at a garden centre, only to find that your impulse buy didn’t live up to expectations? I plead guilty! Unfortunately the availability of plants is being governed increasingly by large commercial interests. Plant quality, reliability and long term garden performance have become, in some cases, secondary to short-term impact in garden centre displays. Consequently many good garden plants, which have proved their worth in the past, are in danger of being lost.

Iris variegata intermediata ‘Gypsy Queen’

This is where the HPS Conservation Scheme comes into the picture. Started in 1992, it aims to identify and ‘rescue’ some of these plants by making them more widely available. Volunteer members across the country grow the plants and report back on how well the plants have grown for them. They also propagate the plants and pass them on, so it’s a good way of getting your hands on an uncommon plant!

Worcestershire members have a long track record of supporting the scheme. I got my first plant in 2008, which makes me a relative newcomer. During that time we have introduced two new plants to the scheme, one of which is now more widely available, and has therefore left the scheme as a success.

The second is Iris variegata intermediata ‘Gypsy Queen’. This attractive and robust Iris which deserves to be more widely available, featured on the HPS Home Page a few months ago. It is highly recommended by the member who grows it for its free flowering. The flower stems are excellent, with five or six flowers on each, and although smallish they are very attractive. At present the plants are growing in one garden on sandy soil, but more divisions should be available for wider distribution in Worcestershire this year, so that we can find out how it does on the red clay that many of us suffer from!

Currently there are nearly twenty of your fellow members doing their bit for plant conservation but we would like more volunteers, and so I hope that after reading this more of you will feel inspired to join us. I am the scheme co-ordinator for our Group, so just let me know and I will do my best to get you a plant to grow in the Autumn.

Jenny Constant
March 2015