Millennium Seed Banks, Forests and Flowers: part four of my ‘jolly.’
Today I’m sharing more photos and little snippets of information from my fabulous week away to celebrate my birthday earlier in March.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the first three parts of my wonderful experience.
Welcome to part four of my birthday ‘jolly,’
Early one morning I started on my walk through the grounds, gardens, and manor house at Wakehurst Place in Sussex. Being early March, Spring had not sprung fully in all its glory but there was still plenty to see as I wandered.
This was my second visit to Wakehurst Place, the last time I visited was about 5 years ago. I noticed there had been many changes and so it was like a new adventure for me. Last time my sister came with me, sadly she was otherwise engaged this visit, so it was me and nature and the odd loan walker passing me in the midst of seemingly endless woods or the gardens.
I arrived before it opened and at that time in the morning there were only 4 others waiting to go in with me.
Wakehurst Place is owned by the National Trust, however the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, Richmond Surrey, maintains the gardens and woodlands and has done so through a lease since 1965.
Kew has maintained the Mansion through a lease since 1972.
An endowment provided to the National Trust by Wakehurst’s last private owner, Sir Henry Price, was established to contribute towards the management of the house and garden. Members of the National Trust can visit the Millennium Seed Bank and the house and gardens free of admission courtesy of Kew who have absorbed the costs of running Wakehurst Place, though there are plans to charge for car-parking in the future as funding needs to be increased.
Wakehurst Place is home to the Millennium Seed Bank.
The Millennium Seed Bank houses the National Trust’s remarkable plant collections and Kew works with the National Trust to conserve the collection. Kew provides its services free of charge and is funding the training and coordination of the project.
Throughout its history, the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, has made important contributions to increasing the understanding of the plant kingdom with many benefits to mankind. It is still first and foremost a scientific institution. With its collections of living and preserved plants, plant products and botanical information, it forms an encyclopaedia of knowledge about the plant kingdom.
Kew’s Library, Art and Archives is one of the most important botanical reference sources in the world, containing more than seven and a half million items, including books, illustrations, photographs, maps and manuscripts.
I do hope to visit there soon. It is a World Heritage Site.
Wakehurst is home to the largest wild plant seed bank in the world and together with Kew and their partners they have collected and conserved seeds from 10% of the world’s wild flowering plant species (about 30,000 species) and aim to conserve 25% by 2020.
Whatever time of year you visit Wakehurst there is something to see. It is open throughout the year except 24th and 25th December and the route around it is about 2.3 miles. You can take a guided tour or just wander around on your own, like I did. Keep in mind that there are some dramatic changes n height along the way amounting to some 225 feet.
There are so many different areas to explore and they are set out to take the best advantage of the seasons.
No matter what time of year one visits there is something to see; whether Winter and Spring the show in Bethlehem Wood can be breath-taking with a fabulous collection of Birch or drifts of Primroses and bluebells everywhere.
There were Iris’ and Crocus’ in little nooks and crannies.
The Winter garden continues on into March with lots of architectural, coloured stems with fabulous flowers including the scented Himalayan Daphne bholoua which was still in bloom when I wandered into the woods.
As well as lots of woodland to explore, there is Loder Valley Nature Reserve with a lake and lots of picnic places for the warmer weather. They only allow 50 people per day access to the protected wetlands, meadows and woodland.
According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation (United Nations) there are around 80,000 tree species in the world, and we only have detailed knowledge of 450. I was staggered by this information. There isn’t a world seed bank for trees but last year Kew singed an agreement with FAO agreeing to establish a Millennium Seed Bank and has been making progress since then. In the UK The UK National Tree Seed Collection is under way with comprehensive collections of Ash and Juniper already in the bank. They’re working with Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali to collect seeds from 25 useful native species and that seed has been used to plant 200,000 trees to date.
I hope you enjoy these photos. I won’t bore you with names and species; mainly because I cannot recall what most of them are and I didn’t write them down. One thing about Wakehurst – I found it impossible to get a signal on my mobile and in the end could only make emergency calls (if needed) and apparently this is a common problem.
It was only when I visited the café that I managed to log into their own facility to get a signal and make and receive calls and texts. Rather a problem as my sister was going to meet me when her business had concluded and finish the wander with me. I ended up waiting for her at the entrance ages before I needed to because there was no way she’d have found me once inside.
Even though this was the second time I visited, I have not managed to see everything and I think it is definitely the sort of place you need to visit more than once. I think it is one of my most favourite places, along with the Huntingdon Library, Museum and gardens in Pasadena, California.
There are lots of ponds and waterfalls in surprising places.
There are also pieces of art throughout the walks and some are made of wood and others of Willow by Willow artist, Tom Hare. The Willow sculptures will be ready in May/June 2014.
I had a wonderful day wandering around on my own. I eventually met up with my sister and we decided to go and visit another wonderful place. She often visits Wakehurst so missing one visit wasn’t a big problem for her.
I shall be sharing more posts and photos from my birthday ‘jolly’ soon. I do hope you’ve enjoyed this brief look at Wakehurst Place. It is far too large for me to cover everything here so I’ve picked out a few of the areas and things to see and learn about as a taster. If you are ever able, please do visit and see for yourself. It is an amazing day out for all the family.
If you want more information about the Millennium Seed Bank (where you can adopt a seed) visit http://www.kew.org/adoptaseed
If you are interested in Wakehurst Place as a venue for an event (weddings etc) email firstname.lastname@example.org
There are events for schools and children all year-long.
For general information http://www.kew.org
As usual all my photographs are (c) Jane Risdon 2014 All Rights Reserved.
The next part of my ‘jolly’ will be coming soon; there will be Castles and Ancient houses.
Let me know what you think of my ‘jolly’ so far…. I love to hear from you.