That was one of the main messages of The Times Eureka garden at this year's RHS Chelsea Flower Show – useful plants should be appreciated for both their beauty and their vital utility.
The summer edition of Kew magazine has just hit the stands and we’re focusing on the fascinating – and very relevant – topic of useful plants in this issue. The Times Eureka Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this May gave us a great excuse to concentrate on this subject. Kew was involved in the theme, choice of plants and in the building of the garden, and right now it’s being re-built at Kew for everyone to enjoy over the summer. Its theme was ‘plants useful to science and society’ so, as well as taking an in-depth look at the garden, we picked out several plants from the design, including iris, lady’s mantle (Alchemilla mollis), and peony, to tell their stories. Such plants have a long history of being used for medicine, clothing, shelter and all manner of bizarre uses, but many are being investigated today for vital drugs to help patients suffering from Alzheimer’s, cancer and diabetes. Check out the main feature on the garden, and watch this fascinating video on Kew’s work on medicinal plants.
The summer issue of Kew Magazine
To bring this topic right back to the essence of Kew’s work we also interviewed Tiziana Ulian – who leads Kew’s Useful Plants Project. This international project based at the Millennium Seed Bank at Wakehurst, helps communities in Africa and Mexico to raise useful plants from seed rather than gathering them from the wild. This helps both the communities and preserves wild populations of plants under threat. You can read a pdf of the article here. You can also support this work.
You can see Tiziana in the new Kew Views video on 'why plant diversity matters'. One in five plant species are threatened and four more species face extinction every day. Diversity equals resilience and the ability to adapt to change, and such diversity is becoming ever more vital. The work of Kew and its partners in initiatives such as the Useful Plants Project is proving crucial to the survival of both people and plants in a changing world. Why not join Kew’s Adopt a Seed to Save a Species campaign to help make a difference?
- Get your special souvenir copy of the summer issue – here’s how.
- Find out more about the plants featured in Kew's Chelsea Garden
- Behind the scenes - installing the Chelsea Garden at Kew
Christina accepts a Kew Publishing award at the Garden Media Guild awards in 2012.
Christina joined Kew in 1999 after finishing a BSc. degree in Plant Ecology and an Advanced National Certificate in Horticulture. After initially working as a horticulturist in Kew’s Arboretum and the Hardy Display section (on the Grass Garden) she went on to become Festivals Interpretation Officer between 2002-2008, helping Kew’s onsite visitors understand what makes Kew tick. In the meantime she completed an MA in Garden History, a subject that continues to be one of her passions.
Christina was short-listed for a Garden Writers Guild award in 2007 for one of her articles in Kew magazine, and is the author of Kew’s Big Trees, published in 2008. She became editor of Kew magazine in September 2008. “I see Kew magazine as a window on the world of Kew,” she says. “I hope between its pages the many facets of Kew’s work and the people who make it happen are revealed for all to see and encourage readers to continue to support Kew.”
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