Nick Johnson explains how a new botanic garden on Montserrat used Rondeletia buxifolia as an alternative hedging plant in the garden to inspire others to follow suit, encouraging the use of island endemics instead of invasives.
"In 2005, the Montserrat National Trust created a new botanic garden, providing a resource for the islanders and an attraction for overseas tourists. The botanic garden not only contributes to education and training for children and other residents of Montserrat, but it also undertakes scientific research into the island’s ecosystems and assist in their conservation."
(Colin Clubbe, UK Overseas Territories)
In my last blog I told you about my expedition to Montserrat, seeing the endemic and critically endangered pribby (Rondeletia buxifolia) growing in the wild. The Montserrat National Trust recognised the huge potential of pribby; using it as a native hedging plant around the new botanic garden’s boundary; choosing this endemic species over introduced exotic species such as Ficus.
Whilst on the Caribbean Island, Stewart Henchie (former Head of the Hardy Display section at Kew) and I helped to construct a shade house and misting unit at Montserrat National Trust’s newly built botanic garden. My colleague, James Beattie, visited later to provide horticultural training in propagation and collections management. Stewart had previously been helping implement the design, layout and horticultural organization of the new garden in co-operation with the Trust.
The Montserrat pribby growing in the Tropical Nursery, Kew
With specimens of pribby brought back to Kew, the Temperate Unit worked in collaboration with Marcella Corcoran from the UK Overseas Territories (UKOTs) team in Kew’s Herbarium, to put together a guideline sheet for its cultivation.
Trials carried out in the Temperate Unit began identifying the most appropriate compost, temperature, humidity and watering regimes that would successfully produce germinating seed and seedlings. The reason to develop best horticultural practices was not only to increase the numbers of this rare plant but also to share our findings with the Montserrat National Trust and other partners to enable them to conserve the species better.
The dainty, orange inflorescence of the pribby
- Nick -
About the Tropical Nursery
The main functions of the Nursery are to:
- Form a back-up collection of tender tropical plants used to support science, display and education within the gardens. We supply plants for use in displays in the Main Kew conservatries, for festivals and events organised by the Foundation and the Directorate.
- Supply plants for education purposes to the Schools & Families department.
- Act as main propagation facility for the Princess of Wales Conservatory, Palm House and Temperate House as well as supporting the exchange of plants between Kew and other institutions and collections.
- Provide direct education in nursery techniques and the cultivation of tropical plants for the Kew Diploma course, Apprentice and Trainee programme, Internship and work experience programmes and visiting staff from other UK and overseas institutions.
- Support conservation by working with the UKOTs team undertaking propagation and cultivation protocols on targeted endangered species.
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