Published: 25 June 2013
The Threatened Plants Appeal
Leading cultivated plant conservation charity Plant Heritage has launched a major Threatened Plants Appeal to coincide with its 35th anniversary.
Which garden plants will need protection next?
The organisation aims to raise £100,000 to help save Britain’s rarest and most endangered plants.
Many of the plants which were common in gardens just 50 years are now rarer than pandas, and some have actually become extinct. Plant Heritage believes we have a duty to our children and grandchildren to look after our heritage of plants.

Since the charity set up its Threatened Plants Project four years ago it has identified that out of 13,000 cultivars assessed, almost 7,000 are threatened. 60% of these plants are protected in National Plant Collections, which reinforces the important work the collection holders do.  
Changing fashions, disease and mass propagation means that many plants are still at risk however and much more work is needed to safeguard the future of Britain’s gardens as we know them. 

Economic Climate

Speaking at the launch of the charity’s marquee at this year’s RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show on 8th July, Plant Heritage Chairman Michael Alder will tell journalists how delighted he is to be part of a charity which puts the conservation of the UK’s cultivated plants at the heart of its work. 

Plant Heritage President, Alan Titchmarsh.
“Much of the planet is covered in cultivated plants so they clearly have an important part to play. However, it is the wider role of useful things they can do for us we need to particularly remember, such as food, medicines, textiles, energy crops and a variety of amenity uses in our gardens. 

Many of the thousands of cultivars have unique properties, some of which we know about and many we do not. We owe it to ourselves and to the future to save these,” he says.

“In the present economic climate, our limited funds are being severely stretched at a time when our work has never been more vital. We would really like your support,” he adds. 

Plant Heritage President, Alan Titchmarsh also urges your support saying: “I would be so grateful if you are able to donate anything you can to the Threatened Plants Appeal. In so doing you will be instrumental in not only safeguarding it, but also ensuring that the work carries on.”
Your Gift could help Plant Heritage in many ways:
Donate £25 and purchase a Collection Holder signboard encouraging more visitors to these vital ‘living libraries.’
Donate £75 and you could fund a volunteer to visit and assess a new Collection for the scheme.
Donate £300 and fund workshops to update Collection Holders on new and ongoing threats to plant health.
Donate £1,000 and provide access to an online Plant Reference library for Collection Holders to research their plant group. 
For further details about making a donation to this great project see their website.

As gardeners should we plant cultivars that are becoming rare?

Plant Collections

There are more than 620 National Plant Collections in Britain. Each collection is a 'living plant library' dedicated to a specific genus, from Abelia to Zingiber. It may contain thousands of different cultivars, such as Dahlias, or just a handful – Lily of the Valley, for example – representing an extraordinary legacy of genetic diversity. By seeking out these plants, many no longer commercially available, propagating them, researching their history and properties and making this knowledge publicly available, Collection Holders are custodians of biodiversity.

For medical researchers, historians, ornamental plant developers, amateur gardeners and conservation professionals tasked with reintroducing threatened species to the wild, Plant Heritage’s collections are an essential and internationally significant resource. 
Almost half of the collections are in private ownership and include allotments, back gardens and large estates. Collections are also maintained by local authorities, universities, agricultural colleges, schools, arboreta. botanic gardens and nurseries and there are also a number of collections on properties belonging to English Heritage, The National Trust and The National Trust for Scotland.
Reported by Chris Allen  

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