Uphilldowndale

Watching nature take its course, from the top of a hill in northern England

Slow to germinate, part one

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It would be churlish of me to complain about the weather, its been wet grey and dismal, but we’ve had nothing like the troubles of great swathes of the UK.  I’ve not been out with the camera, I’ve been very happy to fall into a state of semi hibernation. It’s the time of year where curling up with a seed catalogue in front of a warm fire seems like an ideal  way to pass  the time.

So it perhaps seems fitting to dig up a post that has been lying  in  a dormant state in my  blog drafts since June 2014. Yes 2014

Some of you may have been around long enough to remember that the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew hold a special place in the  hearts and history of Mr Uphilldowndale’s family.

It was as a result of this connection we had the privilege of visiting Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank  at Wakehurst in Sussex ;  in a nut shell, the aim of the seed bank is to provide an insurance policy against extinction of plants in the wild.

seed bank ext

When HRH Prince Charles opened the Millennium Seed bank he described it as a ‘a gold reserve … a place where this reserve currency, in this case life itself, is stored’.

It’s a special place.

breathing planet_

We  had a full behind the scenes tour.  Seeds arrive from all over the world, some are collected by Kew scientists in the field,

so many seeds

others are sent directly, volunteers help sort and prepare the seeds for storage.

MSB4

Just sometimes, the seeds arrive  from the four corners of the world with excess baggage, the staff need to keep their wits about them, and a sense of humour.

big spid

Identified and catalogued

seed vault 4

this most precious of treasure is prepared

seed jars

to be stored in an underground vault, at a chilling –21C

seed vault 2

You need specialist clothing to hang about in there, and certainly not shorts;

seed vault 3

We settled for pressing our noses and camera lenses against the glass

seed vault

It’s one thing keeping all these seeds, and knowing where you’ve put them, I’d be rubbish at that! But you also need to know, what you’ve got will germinate.  I was very taken with the x-ray images of seeds, that can tell the trained eye, a lot about the viability of the seed samples; I thought they were rather beautiful.

xray seeds_

Part two to follow.

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Author: uphilldowndale

Watching the rhythm of rural life, from the top of a hill in northern England. Having spent most of my life avoiding writing, I now need to do it! I am no domestic goddess, but if I were expecting visitors to my home, I would whisk round with the duster and plump up the cushions and generally make the place look presentable. I hope that by putting my words where others may see them it will encourage me to ‘tidy up and push the Hoover around’ my writing. On the other hand I may just be adding to the compost heap. Only time will tell! Pull up a chair, sit yourself down, I’ll put the kettle on.

6 thoughts on “Slow to germinate, part one

  1. Oh, did I really go to such a prestigious place in shorts and Crocs? BiL

  2. What a treat to be able to visit such an important place.

  3. I’m in semi hibernation too but this was a wonderful tour, thank you!

  4. What an interesting post and terrific pictures. Lucky you getting to visit there and see behind the scenes.
    It’s wet and windy here so I’ll be settling down later to look through the Chiltern Seeds 2016 catalogue. xx

  5. Pingback: Slow to germinate part two | Uphilldowndale

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