Lathyrus odoratus 'Senator'

Plant Heritage showcases fascinating plant collections at RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival 2-7July 2019

14th June, 2019

Plant Heritage has a mission to conserve the diversity of our garden plants.  It does this by encouraging the establishment of well-documented and researched National Plant Collections,  through its network of Plant Guardians and individual members, working to keep plants safe by keeping them growing.

At the RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival in July, within the Plant Heritage Zone the charity will be showcasing selected National Plant Collections: Hakonechloa macra cvs. and Ophiopogon japonicus, Pinus, Hemerocallis with the RHS AGM, Hosta (miniature and small), Podocarpus & related Podocarpaceae, Rubus spp., Hebe, Kniphofia (cvs. & AGM species) plus (spp., subsp. & varieties) and the Queen Mary II Exoticks display. Visitors will also learn about Plant Guardian plants and our key Missing Genera for 2019 as well as have the opportunity to participate in the 'name the Dahlia competition'.

Rubus spp. - Barry Clarke

Barry Clarke will showcase new cultural introductions such as Rubus playfairianus, a rare Chinese species, the first time this has been grown in cultivation, and a new hybrid, also the first of its kind, Rubus nepalensis x pectinarioides, which still needs a name! Also on show will be the beautiful, double flowering R. thyrsiflorus ‘Flore Pleno’ an extremely rare cultivar as well as several other unknown species that he collected in China.

Hakonechloa and Ophiopogon japonicus - Philip Oostenbrink

The display of Hakonechloa and Ophiopogon is a representation of a Japanese Roji garden; the garden outside a Japanese tea house which aims to calm the senses. The display contains materials from the gardens in Canterbury Cathedral, including plinths made from Mulberry. The Ophiopogon are in pots made by BBC Great British Pottery Throwdown winner Ryan Barrett.

Hakonechloa, Hakone Grass, or Japanese Forest Grass originates from the Hakone mountains of Japan. Hakonechloa prefers a semi-shady to shady position as full sunshine will scorch the often yellow coloured leaves. A free draining soil is best for these plants but they will also grow on clay. Beginning with pots on a balcony Collection Holder Philip Oostenbrink has collected 20 named cultivars. A recommended cultivar is Hakonechloa macra ‘All Gold’ with completely yellow leaves, ideal to brighten up a darker corner in the garden.

In Japan Ophiopogon are used around water basins or rocks for accentuation and to soften their base. The smaller cultivars like ‘Kyoto’ and ‘Tama-ryu’ are often planted between stones in a path or along gravel garden edges to imitate moss. In their natural habitat they are often found along streams or in moderate damp woodland where they thrive in shade to semi-shade. Flowers are quite insignificant but the berries are a beautiful pearly blue. The most unusual plants on display will be ‘Fiuri Gyoku Ryu and ‘Spring Gold’. 

Queen Mary Exoticks II - Hampton Court Palace

Regular visitors to Hampton Court Palace may already be familiar with some of the very special plants that are looked after there by the estates team, but for those that are not, the show offers a chance to view Queen Mary II Exoticks National Collection which comprises of plants with intriguing names such as Flower for an Hour, Lipstick Tree and Marvel of Peru. This is one of only a handful of historically-themed plant collections recognised by Plant Heritage.

These Exotick plants are a recreation of part of Queen Mary II’s extensive 17th century plant collection. Queen Mary II must have been one of the original ‘plantaholics’, obsessively collecting new, exotic tender plants for William and Mary’s gardens in Holland and England. Many of these were brought back from Dutch voyages to botanical hotspots such as South America and South Africa.

To manage her collection at Hampton Court Palace, Mary employed her own botanist and in the 17th century, the plants were displayed in an area that was Henry VIII’s former fish ponds. In the winter, they were kept in glasshouses but by the early 20th century the Queen Mary’s original Exoticks had disappeared from the palace. In the 1990s a new collection of exotics was started by the Gardens and Estates Team. While not at the level of around 4000 plants collected by Queen Mary, the current collection of around 400 plants, from 260 different plant taxa, including nearly 100 citrus trees, is ever expanding.

Hosta (miniature & small) - Hogarth Hostas

Jonathan Hogarth will be highlighting the cuttings method that John Carr developed, ‘Aeroponics’ to propagate cuttings of Hosta. A new variety just launched at RHS Chelsea, ‘Ruffled Pole Mouse’ (mini-hosta) will be available to buy at Hampton Court.

Kniphofia - The Eden Project

For the first time the Kniphofia National Collection from the Eden Project will be on display at Hampton Court.

Kniphofia are herbaceous perennials indigenous to Africa, with up to 70 species including six subspecies and four varieties. They grow from a thick rhizome with fibrous, fleshy roots. The majority of species and cultivars are evergreen while a few are deciduous. They bear dense, erect spikes of elongated inflorescence with stalk-less small tubular flowers, above the level of the large clumps of arching leaves that are long, narrow and tapering. The flowers can be found in solid shades of red, pink, orange, yellow, browns and cream, or as a blending of two or three colours. Again, depending on the species or cultivar the flower spikes range in height from 20cm to 2m.

Podocarpus & related Podocarpaceae - Caerhays Castle

This is the first time Caerhays Castle are showcasing their collection of Podocarpus at Hampton Court for the first time too. Like other genera Podocarpus are threatened in their natural habitat, and Caerhayes is researching which species are hardy in the UK.

Podocarpaceae is a large family of conifers, mainly from the Southern Hemisphere, found principally in New Zealand, Tasmania, South Africa and South America. Other species originate from China. All Podocarpus have a complex nodular root system which enable the plant to flourish in situations where nitrogen is deficient such as mountains and rock slopes eg P. lawrencei. Most of the commonly grown Podocarpus are therefore very easy to grow even in the poorest soil conditions.

Podocarpus can be used for windbreaks (P. nubigenus), as foliage for flower arranging (P. salignus) for  hedging (P. acutifolius),  for tubs and patios (P. ‘Clarence’) or for ground cover P. lawrencei ‘Blue Gem’.

Hebe Collections - Hebe Society

Hebe are native to New Zealand with over 100 species and close to 6000 cultivars. They  occur naturally in the Falkland Islands and the southern Chile. They are possibly the most diverse genus of plants in the world of botany, ranging from the large leaves and flowers of Hebe speciosa, to the tiny leaves of Hebe buxifolia. Some of the most unusual types are called “whipcord” hebes and resemble small conifers but have small white flowers. There are three National Plant Collections, some of which are represented in this display at Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival.

In addition to the wonderful display of collections in the floral marquee, Plant Heritage will also announce the winner of the prestigious Brickell Award at 2.40pm on 1 July.  The award recognises the extensive and vital work achieved by many Collection Holders and is awarded to those considered to have demonstrated excellence in this field. This award was established to celebrate Plant Heritage's jubilee year in 2003, in recognition of ‘excellence in cultivated plant conservation’ undertaken by Collection Holders. It is named after Chris Brickell, founding member and Vice President of the organisation.

Notes to Editors:

  • For further press info on Plant Heritage or to request plant images please contact
  • Plant Heritage is located at 12 Home Farm, Loseley Park, Guildford, GU3 1HS Tel: 01483 447540

About Plant Heritage

Plant Heritage works to conserve the nation’s garden plants for people to use and enjoy today and tomorrow.  We are a charity, please support our work by becoming a member, or donating to support the National Plant Collection® Scheme

The National Plant Collections® are at the heart of what we do, living plant libraries representing the diversity of our nation’s cultivated plants (plants that we have collected, bred and grown). They are created and curated by individuals or organisations who are passionate about protecting the diversity of our rich flora.

Our pioneering Threatened Plants research helps us identify plants at risk of disappearing so we can aim to put conservation plans in place to protect them.

Our members are working together to grow, share and save the diversity of garden plants. They can become Plant Guardians® who grow and nurture one or more rare and unusual plants in their own house or garden. They can take part in our annual Plant Exchange, hard-to-find plants are shared for free to members across the nation.

Conserving the diversity of garden plants

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