Robert Pries robertpries@embarqmail.com
Thu, 16 Jan 2014 07:45:28 PST
Whenever systems are created, such as the system of national collections, they will have faults. I got interested in the British system when “The Vanishing Garden” was printed in 1986. If my math is good that is about 28 years it has been in existence. During that time some of the original collections have been transferred to new collection holders because of death or disability of the previous holder. Some collections have remained since the very beginning but may soon need to be passed on. The numbers of collections have grown substantially and lately it seems there is a new vitality. Even with failures, which I am sure there must have been some, the system must be at this point considered a success. It has held plants that fell out of favor and provided them when they resurged in popularity.  Without the successes it has had, more plants would have disappeared by now than have. Even though some collection holders are still learning, it is sad to criticize what can be said to have worked, because not every candle casts the same light. Doing nothing would have achieved just that. It is easy to advocate for nothing since it takes no work, no cooperation, no investment. Certainly I think there is great room for improvement,  but I am highly hopeful the USA system will prosper. 
In a sense I believe plant societies are great systems also for saving plants. By being a member and an active participant connections are created so that rare plants get dispersed to good homes. The difference between the systems is a matter of form.  Plant societies to date provide a rather casual approach and truthfully many plants get lost because of the lack of organized communication. I know of great collections that were rendered useless because the plantsman who had them kept records that were indecipherable after his death and there was no time to find the plants in the garden or even know which pots were empty or dormant. I can remember many such great losses of plants because of no formal arrangements prior to a death. No matter what system one chooses to participate in they all have their intrinsic problems. But as I have said many times, doing nothing achieves nothing.
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