World renowned gardeners who hold national plant collections and are conserving them for future generations have been learning about the latest research techniques at Duchy College Rosewarne. The group spent the day working with award winning micro propagation expert Ros Smith, to learn how to conserve the plants in their care.
Micropropagation is the process of using small amounts of plant material to grow a number of plants from one cutting under laboratory conditions.
Ros explains more “Micropropagation is important as it is a last ditch method for conservation. All the students today have national collections and will have heritage plants or plants affected by viruses, where these plants can’t be propagated by other methods.”
The one day course at Duchy College Rosewarne is run in partnership with the Plant Heritage Conservation Charity and is offered by invitation only.
One of the people that attended the course, Jill Whitehead, who holds the National Collection of Irises said, “The fact that Ros is willing to share her experience is the great thing about the opportunity. The college could put this information on a website but being able to see it and get hands on experience is what makes the difference.”
The unique course, which runs once a year, shows the specialist teaching that is available at Duchy College Rosewarne. Ros Smith is the only researcher in the country who is using micropropagation for conservation purposes and with a licence to work with diseased plants.
Also in attendance was Mark Twyning, who works at the National Dahlia Collection in Penzance, he said “I thought it would be useful to clean up some of the old varieties, otherwise they will just be lost to viruses. Dahlias mutate a lot. Sometimes, it’s not a shoot it’s just a few cells. You may be able to take these cells and grow them with the knowledge I’m learning today.”