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Winner of prestigious Brickell Award announced at RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival 2021

5th July, 2021

Renowned plantsman , and Vice-President of Plant Heritage, Roy Lancaster announced that Roger Hammond, National Collection Holder of Epimedium, was the recipient of the prestigious Brickell Award 2021 at this year’s RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival. 

The Brickell Award has been running since 2003 and celebrates outstanding contributions to plant conservation. Roger has built (from scratch) one of the largest collections of Epimedium in the country and is fast becoming one of the leading authorities on the genus, making him this year’s worthy recipient.

Vicki Cooke, Conservation Manager at Plant Heritage explains: “Our Brickell Award recognises excellence in cultivated plant conservation and celebrates the passion, dedication and extensive conservation efforts made by a National Collection Holder – something Roger has in abundance. The Award judges commended Roger’s deep and ongoing commitment to Epimedium over the last 30 years, and given his successes in the propagation and cultivation of this genus - plus his considerable contribution to our knowledge about Epimedium - he was chosen as this year’s recipient.” 

Since becoming awestruck by a display of unusual and newly introduced Epimedium from China at the spring show at the RHS Halls in Westminster in the early 2000s, Roger’s existing interest in the small, dainty flowers went into overdrive. Fast forward 30 years, and Roger has built up his collection in his small private garden in Essex, which now contains a staggering 45 species and 180 cultivars of Epimedium. 

These beautiful blooms gained National Plant Collection status from Plant Heritage in 2013, and since then Roger has continued to collect and care for as many new plants as possible, especially as more are recognised outside China. Roger has detailed knowledge of Epimedium, both those of wild origin and those that have been cultivated, and has carried out significant and thorough research both on the genus and its cultivation. 

Epimedium is one of the most versatile and low-maintenance garden plants; they do well even in problem spots like dry shade and have handsome year-round foliage topped with dainty flowers in spring. As a result, the genus is growing in popularity, something the Award judges believe Roger’s ongoing work has contributed to. 

Roger Hammond, Brickell Award recipient 2021 says: “I was first attracted to Epimedium in the 1970s when I was a horticulture student at Writtle College in Chelmsford, but my interest piqued when I saw several new species – including many of which I’d never seen before - at an RHS spring show. They were newly introduced species from China and looked so exotic, tropical, even! I bought one of each that hadn’t already sold out, and from that moment on I was hooked.” 

“Winning the Brickell Award is a huge honour, especially as it acknowledges the hard work my wife Linda and I have put into our collection over the last 30 years, which means a lot. It’s high time Epimedium receive the recognition they deserve for being beautiful and useful garden plants, and this is a great step towards that.” 

Roger’s top 5 tips on how to best grow Epimedium:

  1. Though often recommended for dry shade, all but the very toughest Epimedium need watering in dry periods
  2. Epimedium generally do very well in pots and this allows for greater appreciation of the flowers, being raised higher. Watch for vine weevils though!
  3. Named Epimedium cultivars must be propagated by division to ensure they remain true to type
  4. Epimedium are insect pollinated and need more than one plant to produce seed. They hybridise freely. The seed should be collected and sown straight away.
  5. Most do not need the old leaves cutting back, as often recommended, as the new leaves and flowers will grow over the old canopy. This also gives extra protection to the plants over winter 

Richard Wollaston, Chairman of the Essex Group of Plant Heritage, adds: “We cherish Roger as one of the most knowledgeable of the National Collection Holders in our area and we really appreciate his unfailing willingness to exhibit his plants, and enlighten interested visitors, at every Plant Fair and other event we have run. We are delighted he is the recipient of this year’s Brickell Award.” 

To find out more about Roger’s Epimedium National Plant Collection, visit: www.epimedium-collection.com

Conserving the diversity of garden plants

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