At RHS Hampton Court last year, while working on the Hebe Society stand, a friend 'bullied' me into joining Plant Heritage (click here to open a window to Plant Heritage website). Now, this was not really a hard sell to me as a lover of plants and member of other groups that champion them, but for some reason I had never got my act together to join. Even prior to joining I was and still am donating 10% of the value of anything that I sell on eBay to Plant Heritage through eBay's charitable donations scheme (click here to find out more about this). Now, we're not talking about 'retire to an island' kind of money here, but every little helps I suppose. So with gentle persuasion and the promise of a free plant for joining at Hampton, I became a member and I have already greatly enjoyed being part of such a well connected and knowledgeable group.
L-R (Chair of the board of trustees Cecilia Bufton, Horticulturist Matthew Biggs, Lathyrus National Collection holder Roger Parsons with his Brickell Award he received from Horticulturist and Vice President of Plant Heritage Chris Brickell at RHS Hampton Court 2019)
Since joining, I have received my paperwork, magazine and local group bulletins. I have been welcomed and invited to events. I hope to, though struggle with other commitments to, be an active member and I wanted to draw your attention to a couple of good reasons why you might be interested also.
Plant Heritage is more than a body championing plant collections, preservation and research. It is a network of like-minded amateur and professional horticulturists, gardeners, designers and plantspeople, who love plants and gardens. To that end, if you are looking to build a collection, undertake plant research, or simply find a specific and tricky to obtain plant, this network could really help.
Back in the old days when it was know as the NCCPG (National Council for the Conservation of Plants and Gardens), I was asked about registering my personal Hebe collection with them as a National Collection. While I didn't pursue this at the time, I do regret not doing it. It is perhaps something for the future though... I am also working on another smaller National Collection at present, that I will hopefully be able to register in 2021, though I'm not giving away just what it is yet. If you have a large collection of a single genus, or of a group of plants raised by a particular plant breeder, or even a single class of a genus (like a dwarf collection of a particular plant), it may well be worth registering it with Plant Heritage. Indeed you can champion a single plant rather than a large group, by becoming a 'Plant Guardian' (click here to open Plant Guardian webpage) and ensuring the long-term success of rare plant.
The Hebe Society 2019 RHS Hampton Court Plant Heritage Display of Hebe and New Zealand Plants earned a Silver-Gilt Medal.
One of the greatest benefits of the £36.00 annual membership, in my opinion, is the yearly 'Plant Heritage Exchange', where you can request and submit plants that you are looking for and exchange them with others across the country. This is a wealth of interesting and unusual plants and arguably a good enough reason alone to join. I am currently trying not to gorge myself on the fantastical list of hugely appealing unusual wonders that was emailed to me two days ago.
So, while there are lots of great groups out there to join, there are few that give as much back and benefit the plants we need, know and love as much as Plant Heritage and I strongly advise that you join.