25 years of the National Plant Collection of Polemonium
For those of you who do not know, I (Diane Nichol-Brown) keep gardening diaries with detailed notes, so here are some details from 1992 when the National Plant Collection was applied for and awarded.
Our first year as Polemonium National Collection Holders
On Saturday 11th February after sowing seeds in the morning, at the NCCPG meeting at the Hancock museum on ‘Soils’ by Ann Pickering, I talked to Christine Liddle, the Collection Co-ordinator about applying for the collection, filled in the form that evening and sent it back to HQ at Wisley. I also worked on some watercolour botanical illustrations that evening.
I visited many nurseries throughout the year to track down more Polemonium, and gardens including a guided walk of Newby Hall with Mr Compton in Garden Heritage week on Saturday 25th April, Howick Hall and Bide a Wee (Mark Robson) on the May group garden visits, Larch Cottage Nursery on the group coach trip in July and RBGE twice in September.
On Sunday 14th June I helped Molly Walker on the Information stall at the NCCPG plant sale at Blagdon Hall, bought 2 more Polemonium accessions and 2 packets of seed and sold most of a trayful of Polemonium pauciflorum I had sown in February for the plant sale. Two days later, on the Monday, Eric Robson and a Tyne Tees film crew came to Ebchester to film the collection, which was shown on the Thursday – I still have the video, and David is going to digitalise my extensive video records for me.
On Wednesday 11th November, Mr John Main from RBGE gave an interesting talk at Kirkley Hall, and he brought me a plant I had seen in the gardens, and I gave him 3 accessions he did not have for the rock garden in exchange.
Finally on Wednesday 11th November I received a letter and sign board from Graham Pattison confirming the collection – I phoned Susie White who had applied for her collection, but she had not received hers at the time. Mr Pattison asked for an annual report, so I got the typewriter out, and send it off the next day in the post -no emails and internet in those days.
After the AGM on December 12th at the Hancock museum, I received a letter from Graham Pattison about my enquiries in the collection report, in which he suggested I contacted Blooms of Bressingham to ask about some plants they had listed, so planned for a journey to Norfolk in the spring.
The Polemonium Collection since 1992
That sort of activity has continued every year, with a move to Trimdon Grange with David in 1998, award of Scientific Status in 1999, publishing the monograph with help from the North East group in 2000, several exhibits at Hampton Court, Gardeners World Live, Tatton Park, and two trips to Colorado.
In addition to botanical illustrations, books, articles, slides and photos of the plants, we have acquired china plates, a Moorcroft vase, mugs, tea tray, silk hankies and tee shirts, which can be seen in our tea room and entrance corridor with overflow in the upstairs corridor, Polemonium bedroom and en suite bathroom.
2017 for the Polemonium National Collection Holders
This year so far we have re visited RBGE, and exchanged more accessions and acquired an up to date accession list, sorting out some mis-named plants for a plant nursery in Canada, applied for plants from the Plant exchange, given 2 talks, and sown all the seed available from Jelitto to assess germination rates and trueness to type.
David has repaired our mist unit propagator and built new plant sales beds in the cottage garden.
We borrowed the Brother printer to improve our existing labels, and hope to add some new ones soon.
We are going to Hampton Court in July to help out this year, prior to going back with a display of 21st century introductions and Fragaria vesca next year and will be working on an update to go with the monograph published in 2000.
We will take some plants to Kirkley Hall Plant Sale in June as usual, and will have a plant stall at Blagdon in July.
We will also be selling plants and displaying information about the Plant Heritage Plant Sales in May at Haltwhistle Plant Fair on 20th May, and Leighton Hall, Carnforth on 21st May.
The garden at Trimdon Grange is open 2-5 on Sunday 25th June, and by appointment at any other time.
We would like to thank all the members of the North East Group who have helped in the last 25 years, as well as all the staff at HQ.
Dianne and David Nichol-Brown