I wrote my last piece from Washington DC where I was enjoying time with family. Little did I know that I had a real treat in store. It needs a little introduction so I hope that you will bear with me.
During the last Seed Distribution the Co-ordinator was contacted by staff from the Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania, USA for information on and assurances about the sources of the seed. As a result I had some correspondence with Beth Hall, an intern at the Gardens. So when my daughter planned to have a few days away I suggested that we might visit the Gardens and find out why such a prestigious garden is a member of the Hardy Plant Society. So I arranged a visit day with Beth.
Longwood Gardens www.longwoodgardens.org is breathtakingly elegant. There is an apparent design influence, both in the structured lay-out and in the planting. Within this there is a real focus on plants of all types, including many that we classify as hardy perennial. It was first established by a Quaker family in the 18th century, developed over the years and more particularly by Pierre S. Du Pont. That development has continued since he died in 1954. I have since noticed that this was one of the gardens visited by the Essex Group on their trip to USA last year. Maybe one of the members who went might write a few lines about it?
Beth met us and took us to the Research and Production Units where we met Alan Petravich, Research Assistant. Alan showed us round some of the glasshouses where he is working on different species including Clivia. He is also experimenting with possibilities for orange flowers in hanging baskets – a request from the planting designers for a specific shade of colour in baskets. We also saw some of the HPS seed that had germinated. The remainder was in cold storage awaiting later sowing.
We were introduced to Dr Tomasz Arusko, Curator for Research and Production. We had a lengthy chat about the international implications of seed and plant exchange. Tomasz is a plant hunter as well as a writer on horticulture. He explained that over the years some plants have perished in the Garden and currently he is trying to locate and obtain and re-introduce them. The reason for membership of the HPS is that some plant seed is only available from our seed distribution. Any trials and tribulations of being the Society’s Chairman evaporated! This is what we are all about and I felt proud that the Society could play a role overseas as well as in UK. Tomasz has agreed to provide a list of the plants that he is looking for so that we might be able to identify members who grow them and might we willing to collect seed, even if not for the main distribution.
All of that seems like years ago and back in UK routines have been re-established with pricking out seedlings, planting, weeding and the like. Now I am getting ready for the National Weekend in Scotland – and providing service for the plants in my absence – always a scary to be away at this time of year.
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