A kniphofia, which will be part of a national collection.
GARDENINGVENTNOR Botanic Garden (VBG) has a masterplan to culture its international reputation.
The garden, which is in the process of passing from the IW Council into private hands, already has some real plant rarities and those who run what has been largely seen as a pleasure garden hope they will help grow its potential as a miniature South Coast Kew.
The garden has a special microclimate — one that makes it ideal for species which cannot flourish elsewhere. Garden manager Chris Kidd and his team plan to capitalise on that.
It has just been announced the garden is planning to become a national collection holder with Plant Heritage of two plant genera, kniphofia and puya.
Kniphofia, commonly known as the red-hot poker, is a genus of South African perennials.
"Barton Manor, East Cowes, has an existing national collection of kniphofia cultivars and we propose to take on the species of the genus," said Chris Kidd.
"There are 68 species in total, VBG has 27 among 120 'accessions’ (catalogued plants) and rising, more than 90 per cent of those listed in the Royal Horticultural Society’s Plantfinder.
"Among this is the species kniphofia bruceae, which is now almost certainly extinct in the wild. VBG has been responsible for the bulking up of this species and distribution of it among botanic gardens, such as University of Cambridge and Abbey Garden, Tresco, to ensure its success."
Puya is a largely Andean genus of more than a hundred species.
Notoriously difficult to grow outdoors in Britain, VBG has 12 species among its 33 catalogued plants.
"Our collections have already been taken notice of by botanists studying the genus and amount to the most comprehensive collection of cultivated accessions out-of-doors in northern Europe," said Chris.
Among the collection is the extremely rare Puya raimondii, from high-altitude Peru.
Puya raimondii is semi-carnivorous and is a plant with real attitude, having evolved sharp, reflexed spines which entrap lamas at its base! In the mountains, nutrient is in short supply but the rotting bodies provide it among the impoverished boulders.
More extraordinary than that, they live for centuries before blooming.
Chris says raimondii’s blooming is one of the great sights of nature, with the release of hundreds of thousands of windborne seeds — but it is a sight none of the present staff will see.