Why do this?
Wild plants receive some protection and conservation from international organisations and some governments, but those which people have selected or bred and which we grow in our gardens don’t. If we want to keep the huge range of plants that we can grow in the UK we need to try to do something about this.
Does this matter?
Large commercial interests, sometimes on an industrial scale, increasingly control what is available. Concentration on breeding for a particular characteristic which helps sales such as larger flowers may lead to loss of others which are important to gardeners. These include reliability, how well a plant does over a long time, scent, resistance to pests and diseases and long flowering time. Fashion also plays a part.
This means older cultivars which have proved their worth in the past are becoming harder to find. Even if few gardeners want to grow them at the moment, they may have role in future breeding.
So, yes, it does matter.
So what’s the Hardy Plant Society actually doing?
We have a national Conservation Scheme which aims to identify and preserve at least some of the plants in danger of being lost. Volunteer members of the scheme grow the plants in a variety of places across the country and report back on how well the plants have grown for them. They also propagate the plants and pass them round so it’s a good way of getting your hands on a rare plant!
Several plants have become more available, as shown by their entries in the RHS’ ‘Plant Finder’, and so we have removed them from the scheme. See more about those still on the list, or in the featured articles on our blog.
How can I get involved?
The Conservation Scheme is open to any member as an individual or as part of a local group. If you are interested and want to find out more, get in touch with your local group co-ordinator or with the National Co-ordinator.