Horticultural milestone - UKs first pub and prison are both awarded National Plant Collection status

25th March, 2024

The UK’s first pub and the UK’s first prison have both been awarded National Plant Collection status by horticultural conservation charity Plant Heritage.

The White Hart, Bitton, a popular village pub between Bristol and Bath, and HMP Eastwood Park, a prison and young offender institution for women located north of Bristol, hold prize collections of Crocosmia cvs. and Tulbaghia respectively. Their accreditation shows that anyone with a passion for plants can take an active role in plant conservation, and that National Plant Collections can be held anywhere.

The two organisations now join the growing community of over 700 National Plant Collections found in gardens, greenhouses, allotments, arboretums, plant nurseries, botanic gardens, historic houses, zoos, and public parks across the UK and Ireland. Together, they are 'living libraries' and ensure that different plant groups remain in cultivation for future generations to enjoy.

Gill Groombridge, Business Manager of Plant Heritage, says: “We’re thrilled that the UK’s first pub and prison now both hold National Plant Collections. The National Plant Collections are a vital resource that can, alongside other wild and cultivated plants, help us mitigate against the challenges of climate change. In the ever-changing world we live in, plants are constantly under threat from emerging pests and diseases, fluctuating weather patterns or changing fashions. To combat these threats, we work with Collection Holders across the country to ensure that different plant groups are protected. We are delighted to add The White Hart and HMP Eastwood Park to that list.”

The UK’s first National Plant Collection held at a pub: The White Hart, Bitton, near Bristol

The White Hart’s Crocosmia collection boasts nearly 200 varieties, from rare cultivars such as ‘Zeal remembrance’ to more common forms found in many gardens. Inspired by primetime favourite Gardeners’ World and cared for by the pub’s owners Jemma Wiggins and her husband James Smith, the main collection is held in the beer garden, in pots and in borders. It is supported by a private courtyard holding more cultivars, and come summer, the beer garden is teeming with yellows, reds, oranges for customers to admire.

Jemma Wiggins said: “We’re over the moon that we’re the first pub in the UK to have a National Plant Collection. I love the bursts of colour the Crocosmia bring in the summer months, and that the collection is accessible to everyone as we’re open 365 days a year. We will keep collecting Crocosmia – and of course will continue encouraging our customers to plant some in their own gardens too!”

The UK’s first National Plant Collection held at a prison: HMP Eastwood Park

HMP Eastwood Park’s collection of Tulbaghia is currently cared for by two female prisoners. Together with Gary Stone, HMP Eastwood Park’s Horticultural Craftsman, they care for the 11 different species of Tulbaghia, which are dotted around the prison garden in pots. The female prisoners have learnt how to look after the collection, including repotting, labelling and helping with the paperwork, which develops many different skills. The star-shaped flowers bloom in late summer and into early autumn, and bring a pretty range of whites, pinks and delicate purples into the garden.

Gary Stone said: “I always wanted to be the first UK prison to hold a National Plant Collection so I’m incredibly proud that together with our prisoners we have achieved this. The benefits of growing and caring for our Tulbaghia collection are endless; our prisoners learn about the plants, how to look after them, and take ownership of something that matters – which is something many have never experienced before. We hope our achievement will encourage other prisons to take an active role in plant conservation too.”

“I would also like to thank David and Penny Ross, and Steve Hickman from Hoyland Plant Centre for their support in setting up our collection. They also hold National Plant Collections of Tulbaghia, and have been incredibly helpful.”

Other National Plant Collections have recently been accredited by Plant Heritage. To see the full list, and to find out more about Plant Heritage and its vital conservation work, visit:

eg: plant genus, common name, county, collection holder name.