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Organisation of the Conservation Scheme

We have said something about why the HPS organises a Conservation Scheme in the introduction. We would like to thank those of you who already play a part in the work of the Scheme. If you are thinking about joining in, we hope these notes will show you what happens and what you would need to do. Don’t forget it can be a good way to grow some of these plants and perhaps make them more popular.

HPS groups or individuals are able to organise their involvement as they feel will work best for them within the general framework of the scheme. Some points of organisation are the same for everyone so that we can put accurate and informative details about the plants onto the database and so that we can ensure a wider distribution of plants through the annual plant exchange. You can find the documents we use to do this here.

To oversee the scheme we have a National Co-ordinator. He or she looks after the work of HPS Group Co-ordinators and any individual growers who are not members of an HPS group. Briefly s/he co-ordinates the distribution of plants for the annual exchange, keeps members informed by periodic newsletters, gathers data from growers via the conservation group co-ordinators, reports to HPS Trustees, publicises the scheme and liaises with the HPS web team to keep information on the website up-to-date.

I would like to grow a plant within the scheme. What do I need to do?

If you are a member of a local group with a Conservation Scheme Group Co-ordinator, please contact him or her. If not, please contact our National Co-ordinator, but

in a nutshell, we ask you to record your experience of growing and propagating a conservation plant. You will be asked to report back each year on how it has done and propagate from your plant by division or cuttings. Your group co-ordinator will take propagated plants to the annual plant exchange so that conservation scheme growers in other parts of the country can also try it and spare plants can be taken to local group sales (correctly labelled as conservation plants - see below).

Individual growers report back to the National Co-ordinator.

Rudbeckia laciniata 'Starcadia Razzle Dazzle'

Is it easy to recognise a Conservation Scheme plant?

There are distinctive green National Conservation Scheme labels, which you can obtain from your group co-ordinator or the National Co-ordinator if you are an individual grower. The label should show the plant name, and the name of the local group and initials of the grower. Please write these details in pencil or with an Edding permanent OHP marker in black ink so that the plant can be traced back to the group and grower. Plants you propagate as well as those you receive should have these labels.

How do I report back?

You will receive a Plant Profile with your plant. This gives detailed information about the plant, including dimensions, flowering time, the soil type and aspect it has been grown in, vulnerability to pests and diseases and propagation methods used.

You will also receive a Grower’s Information Record with your plant (or you can download it). The information we ask for in this is an update of that on the Plant Profile, from your experience of growing the plant. You would complete this at the end of each year, sending or giving it to your group co-ordinator each time so that any additional relevant data from your experience can be added to the database.

Individual growers send their Information Records to the National Co-ordinator.

Group co-ordinators or individual growers may decide to devise their own form, but the information needed is the same.

How many growers do you have for each plant?

Ideally at least four growers in each conservation group would complete the Grower’s Information Record on the same plant for four years wherever possible.

Do you make particular requests about growing and propagating conservation plants?

We ask you to grow the plants in your own garden, planting them as soon as possible. If you have space, a dedicated area for the plants is ideal so you can monitor them regularly.

Some of the plants may be vigorous enough to propagate in the first year. But this ideal does not always happen, and it is more important to return a healthy, robust plant to the group or annual plant exchange rather than a small specimen which struggles to survive or even fades and dies. For this reason, please return healthy propagated plants in a minimum of a 1 litre (13cm) pot. Please make every effort to ensure that the plants you return are pest- and disease-free. This is particularly relevant for those plants prone to nematode or vine weevil infestation: phlox, chrysanthemums, heucheras, symphyotrichum (asters) and bergenias are particularly susceptible.

It is also important that all plants in the scheme are propagated by vegetative means to ensure that the correct identity is maintained. These plants should always be prevented from ‘going to seed’ as the resulting juveniles will corrupt the main plant and lead to a different plant being passed round.

The only plants you can grow from seed if other methods are not feasible are species but the resulting plants may show some variation which is normal.

It is a good idea to keep notes of successful and unsuccessful techniques to make it easier to complete a Grower’s Information Record at the end of each year.

Please complete the information even if your plant dies in the first year and don’t worry if this happens. This data is really important and any information you can provide about the possible reasons is as useful when this happens as it is when plants thrive.

Growers may request specific plants from the Active List and group co-ordinators will ask about choices in the spring so that the National Co-ordinator can circulate a list of requests to the groups to try and get enough plants propagated. You do not have to grow a plant that you don’t like or think your garden would not be suitable for.

Moltkia doerfleri

What is the future for these conservation plants?

Wherever possible, we ask groups and individual growers to forge links with local nurseries and/or Plant Heritage’s national plant collection-holders to distribute plants more widely and make them available to the public as well as other HPS members. Plant sales are also a good way of getting conservation plants out to a wider audience if they are propagated in sufficient numbers. Please use the distinctive green HPS Conservation Scheme label and try to make sure that the buyer understands what a conservation plant is.

What is the annual plant exchange?

The exchange is a day event, held as centrally as possible, where group co-ordinators bring plants from their group and take plants from it for their group to try. They also return relevant information from their growers to the National Co-ordinator.

I have a plant which might be suitable for the scheme. What do I do?

Each plant put forward for the scheme must have a Plant Introduction Certificate. Before you fill this in, you might like to discuss the plant with your group co-ordinator. The Plant Introduction Certificate contains as much information as possible and is supported by a minimum of two digital images of, for example, a wider illustration of the plant’s habit, a close-up of the flower, close-up of the foliage or other interesting features. Propagation and cultivation advice together with verification of the correct identity of the plant are also important.

When you have completed the Plant Introduction Certificate please give it to your group co-ordinator to check. The group co-ordinator will take the certificate and (preferably a minimum of five plants) to the annual plant exchange. If a plant is very small or slow to bulk up the group co-ordinator should discuss it first with the National Co-ordinator.

The decision to take a plant onto the scheme is made at the annual meeting with the group co-ordinators. If there is any doubt about the plant’s worth it is considered as ‘provisional’ for a couple of years to see what the feedback is regarding garden-worthiness, ease of growing/propagating and significant differences from other cultivars.

What is a Plant Profile?

Once a plant is accepted into the Scheme the National Co-ordinator compiles a Plant Profile from the Plant Introduction Certificate plus any other relevant information about the plant. Each grower of that plant receives a Plant Profile and the Grower’s Information Record with the plant. The National Co-ordinator also passes the Profile information to the HPS web team for inclusion on the website. In this way the Plant Profiles are able to play an educational role for any member of the HPS or public or students looking for further information about the cultivation and propagation of a particular plant.

If I became a Group Co-ordinator what would I be asked to do?

You would need to make sure that each grower in your group had the Plant Profile Sheet and Grower’s Information Record for each plant he or she was growing. If you and your group decided to devise your own Grower’s Information Record you would need to make sure it covered all the relevant information.

You would also need to keep records of the growers to whom you have circulated plants (via the Grower’s Information Record) and dates when plants have been returned to the plant exchange. You would attend the plant exchange, where views, as well as information, are exchanged.

When do you remove plants from the Scheme?

We remove plants from the scheme when they have had four or more entries in the Plant Finder for three consecutive years. It is the responsibility of the National Co-ordinator to keep the list up to date after the publication of the current RHS Plant Finder, after the annual plant exchange and to inform the Scheme members as well as the HPS web team.

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