‘All About Plants’, RHS Wisley

19th-21st June 2015

In previous years the RHS has held single-day events, in their education building at Wisley, that allowed the specialist plant societies to show their plants and publications to the public. This year they organised a much bigger event over two and a half days in Wilson’s Wood in a specially erected show marquee, with an adjacent marquee for a programme of half-hour talks by the societies. The BPS was invited to be involved and Peter Blake organised a team from the East Anglia and South East groups to show ferns, meet with the public and speak on fern cultivation.

So, sandwiched between the cacti and the heathers, on a rather small bench and a patch of ground, the BPS stand was a sea of green, with a few bronze leaves and some remarkable plant-forms. Jude Lawton, Julian Reed, Peter Blake and Tim Pyner provided more than thirty plants ranging from a tiny Aslpenium trichomanes ‘cristata’ to an enormous Pentarhizidium orientalis. In addition, Roger Golding and Michael Radley helped to man the stand. Particular interest was shown in Adiantum imbricatum and Blechnum fluviatile, to the point where we felt it necessary to emphasise that plants were definitely not for sale!

There was a steady flow of people approaching the stand, many of whom wanted advice on what they could grow in dry shade. One day the BPS should organise a stand on this topic alone! However, there were some with a real academic interest and at least one young man who wanted to take up botany and pteridology as a career. A group from the Dutch Fern Society, including Harry Roskam, visited the stand on their way to a week visiting fern gardens and nurseries in Cornwall. The talks on growing ferns from spores were given by Peter Blake but the audiences were disappointingly small compared to the crowds attracted to ‘How to re-pot your orchids’.

The event was well organised by the RHS, Lesley Whayman and her team and is probably to be repeated in the third weekend of June 2016.

Peter Blake

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