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.
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.
We had a full behind the scenes tour. Seeds arrive from all over the world, some are collected by Kew scientists in the field,
others are sent directly, volunteers help sort and prepare the seeds for storage.
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.
Identified and catalogued
this most precious of treasure is prepared
to be stored in an underground vault, at a chilling –21C
You need specialist clothing to hang about in there, and certainly not shorts;
We settled for pressing our noses and camera lenses against the glass
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.
Part two to follow.