National collections programs

Jane McGary
Sat, 12 Jun 2004 14:25:52 PDT
Alan Meerow mentioned
>The National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS) of USDA-Ag Research Service, for
>whom I work, is trying to forge a cooperative integration with AABGA member
>gardens by which participating garden collections would be essentially be
>accessible through the NPGS.  ...Our Germplasm Repository in Pullman, WA 
>maintains an allium collection.

Alan, do you think the curator of the alliums would like to receive 
offerings (from documented wild seed) from PBS members such as Mark 
McDonough and myself, who grow a lot of them? If so, whom should we contact?

As for systematic beds, there is a fairly systematic Penstemon collection 
at the Leach Botanical Garden in Portland, Oregon, and I seem to recall 
systematic beds at the botanic garden of Mt. Holyoke College in 
?Massachusetts. Surely there are many more such installations in botanic 
gardens around North America. The Rhododendron Species Foundation garden 
near Seattle has rhododendrons, of course, but I think they also have 
collections of other ericaceous genera such as Gaultheria. And of course 
there are great arboreta in many parts of the continent, such as the Hoyt 
Arboretum near where I live, which has many systematic tree collections, 
especially of conifers and magnolias.

Diane Whitehead mentioned the Oregon Garden in Silverton. You can forget 
the idea of systematic collections there -- it was conceived as a showplace 
for the nursery industry, and they are moving farther and farther from what 
many of us dreamed it could be, i.e. Wisley West.

Large collections of bulbs are perhaps better maintained by individuals 
than by botanic gardens, since in the latter a premium (with funding 
implications) is usually set on permanent display, and there's always the 
danger of theft of real rarities. Of course, there are BGs with great bulb 
collections, notably Kew in England and Gothenburg (Goteborg) in Sweden. I 
think you really need one or two truly committed individuals to keep a bulb 
collection going, as witness what happened at the UC Berkeley Botanic 
Garden. Also, it's sometimes necessary to control predators by means not 
acceptable to BG advisory committees; when I asked why there were so few 
bulbs at the UC Santa Cruz BG, I was told that rabbits had eaten them and 
that it was considered unethical to trap and kill the rabbits. No such 
scruples around my place!

Just a few thoughts.

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon, USA

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