We find out more about the UK's National Collection of Crassula species.
Amanda Whittaker lives in Hampshire; within her small garden she grows plants that, over millions of years have evolved into diverse forms with different growth rates and geographically spread across many continents. Her living collection of Crassula species is housed in a purpose made glasshouse from where she answers some key questions about her interest in this fascinating group of plants.
When did you receive your National Collection award?
I received my National Collection award in March 2012, and I have been steadily building up the Collection since then. It is housed in a purpose-built 3x3m greenhouse, in our small back garden.
Why did you choose to collect the plant group Crassula species?
This is always a difficult question; why do any of us decide to collect a particular type of plant. I have always been interested in succulents and the ways in which they have evolved to adapt to their environment. I was given a small Ripsalis as a child from an uncle who was Head Gardener at the time, and who had an amazing greenhouse jam-packed full of bizarre-looking plants.
In terms of why did I choose to go for a National Collection; that was easy. I am a teacher by profession but have always been a gardener. I decided to do the RHS Level II in Horticulture at Sparsholt in 2008. Having passed the course and discovered that I had a deep interest in botany I was at a loss at what to do next.
My dream was to become a plant hunter, like the heroes I had read about; Joseph Banks, Daniel Solander, Carl Thunberg for example, but having a young family meant that this was going to be out of the question. I then came across Plant Heritage, and as they say, the seed was sown. If I couldn’t go out into habitat to study and collect plants, then looking after a collection was the next best thing.
How many plant species does your collection have?
At the moment I have 120 different species; with multiples of many of those species.
When are your Open Days?
The Collection can be viewed at anytime by appointment, between March and November which is when many of the plants are flowering and it is warm enough to sit outside and enjoy my small sub-tropical garden too. My first Open day is planned for July 2015. Visitors can enjoy tea and cakes and a guided tour, and I am always happy to answer their questions.
Amanda comments on Plant Heritage
For those interested in plants, please do consider becoming a member of Plant Heritage and taking part in their free plant exchange scheme, plant talks and many garden visits. There are over 640 different Collections to visit throughout the country and however you get involved you will be helping to preserve our amazing heritage of plants.
Crassula lanuginosa v. pachystemon
Details supplied by Amanda Whittaker