The Kew Garden’s Arboretum Nursery

While at our work placement in Kew Gardens, I had the opportunity to work with the Nursery team, which propagates new and existing woody and herbaceous material for the entire garden. Through a trip into the mountains of Vietnam last year, individuals from the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Logan Botanic, University of British Columbia Botanic, and Longwood Gardens, collected seed for introduction. More can be seen regarding that adventure at Exploring the Global Garden: Vietnam. After a quarantine process via RBG Edinburgh, Kew received seed of several Acer, Buddleja, Sambucus, and Rhododendron species, as well as some curiosities that have not been identified. During my time there, we focused on potting up some new additions to the collection.

After receiving seed from quarantine in February, and subjected to a two month stratification, germination was quite rapid, and growth remains vigorous for many of the species, save the Rhododendrons.

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An unidentified tree, presumed to be in the Nettle Family, Urticaceae. While it was largely upright, most seedlings began to branch at the base, which was corrected to encourage better form.

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Buddleja sp.

Sambucus sp.

Sambucus sp.

Two species of Acer. The one to the left possessed an unusual silver grey coating on underside to the leaf.

Two species of Acer, the one to the left possessing an unusual silver grey coating on underside to the leaf.

The Rhododendrons seemed to be a bit staggered in germination and vigor, but are looking very well nonetheless.

Community pots of Rhododendron.

Community pots of Rhododendron.

A tray of carnivorous Pinguicula, or Butterworts, act as a biological control for flies on this bench of Rhododendron seedlings.

A tray of carnivorous Pinguicula, or Butterworts, act as a biological control for flies on this bench of Rhododendron seedlings.

As you may have noticed, Kew is quite fond of airpots, using them for nearly everything from trees and shrubs to seed and cuttings. Working with a soil manufacturer, they have developed a compost based mixture that has proven quite successful in growing quality plants quickly.

Vigorous root growth from an unidentified specie from Vietnam grown in an airpot.

Vigorous root growth from an unidentified specie from Vietnam grown in an airpot.

Benches of bulb pan-style airpots are used to germinate seed. The seedlings to the front right are Ginkgo biloba.

Benches of bulb pan-style airpots are used to germinate seed. The seedlings to the front right are Ginkgo biloba.

Auricaria seedlings grown for root stock to preserve existing specimens in the garden.

Auricaria seedlings grown for root stock to preserve existing specimens in the garden.

A section of the Nursery used to train trees, giving them good posture and strengthening their stems.

A section of the Nursery used to train trees, giving them good posture and strengthening their stems.

And just a few plants I was fond of:

The beautiful, two-toned foliage of this Zanthoxylum piperitum makes up for its formidable, inch long thorns.

The beautiful, two-toned foliage of this Zanthoxylum piperitum makes up for its formidable, inch long thorns.

This unfortunate looking tree is actually a chestnut, fashionably afflicted with a virus to cause the leaves to take on this string like appearance. This growth have been grafted onto new rootstock as to keep the variety going.

This unfortunate looking tree is actually a chestnut, fashionably afflicted with a virus to cause the leaves to take on this string like appearance. This growth have been grafted onto new rootstock as to keep the variety going.

A regret of mine is surely having lost the name of this unusal varity of grape! The foliage is memorable nonetheless.

A regret of mine is surely having lost the name of this unusal varity of grape! The foliage is memorable nonetheless.

Cheers to Andrew, Flo, and Alex for a warm welcome and for a very informative glimpse into the good work they do at Kew!

2 comments

  1. Douglas Needham

    Tim, that is great that you got to work with some of the seedlings resulting from last year’s plant exploration to Vietnam.

  2. timothyheslop

    Yes, it was great to hear about the trip from one of the collectors, Andrew, and work with such curious plants!

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