Meet Kew's Tropical Nursery horticulturists
By: Nick Johnson & Sam Crosfield - 19/08/2010
Find out more about what goes on behind the scenes in the Tropical Nursery at Kew.
Welcome to Kew’s Tropical Nursery blog.
My name is Nick Johnson and I manage one of the four teams that work in this huge nursery, which has the largest roof span in Kew. With the help of my colleague, Sam Crosfield, we will regularly be bringing you accounts of interesting things happening here.
The Tropical Nursery from above
Whether it’s the Waterlily House propagation drive, repotting cacti, how we look after the orchid collection or simply an interesting plant of the week by one of our students, come to this page to see what we’re up to.
Introducing the Tropical Nursery & Jodrell Glass
The Tropical Nursery, rebuilt in 1998, is one of two tender plant raising and reserve facilities for the Great Glasshouses and Training Section. Jodrell Glasshouse is a support facility primarily raising plants use for scientifc research by Jodrell laboratory. The nurseries provide facilities for the propagation, establishment and growing on of plants from various habitats encountered within the tropical/subtropical regions. There are over 45,000 plants held in the nursery at any one time! These plants are grown to support the public conservatories for educational and display purposes and may by used for scientific purposes by scientists from around the world. The nursery also houses many of Kew's conservation plants, mainly from island habitats.
The nursery covers an area of 6500 m² and is divided into 21 climatic environments which are separately controlled and monitored by a computer. These zones are distributed managed by four teams – Dry Tropics, Moist Tropics, Orchids and Temperate/Conservation Collections.
Eleven permanent staff work in the Tropical Nursery, supported by up to ten students, apprentices and trainees and 28 horticultural volunteers. Daily maintenance of the collections involves watering, feeding, repotting plants, propagating and monitoring plant health throughout the year.
Sam Crosfield, left, and Nick Johnson, right, in the Tropical Nursery
Introducing Nick Johnson
Nick is the team leader of the Temperate and Conservation collections. Nick has been at Kew for nearly ten years and has worked in the Tropical Nursery for eight of them. Nick manages a small team that cares for the temperate collections and the increasingly important threatened island flora collections. Nick provides propagation training to the students in the Nursery and has had the good fortune to have travelled to some amazing island habitats, including Madagascar and St Helena to assist conservationists in their bid to save endangered plant species.
Introducing Sam Crosfield
Sam is the second in command of the Dry Tropics collections. Sam came to Kew in 2006 as a diploma student and, after finishing the three-year course (which included a travel scholarship to study the flora of Mauritius), Sam took a permanent position in the Nursery. Sam currently looks after the warm arid zone which includes the amazing collections of Melocacti, Euphorbias and arid Madagascan flora.
- Sam & 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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