Conservation News

Norfolk and Suffolk HPS Conservation Group Update 2020

Written by Chris Davies. Posted in Conservation

Since I wrote the item for the June 2020 Norfolk and Suffolk Newsletter, the issues regarding Covid 19 still have no certain outcome. This means that we cannot rely on our usual meetings to exchange, collect or pass on our conservation plants, but it is still doubtful that our usual Autumn meeting of Conservation Coordinators will take place. However, just to update members for the time being, I will contact all members shortly, to discover how many people would be interested in becoming involved, or continuing to be involved with our local part of the Conservation Scheme.

I will aim to keep growers, and prospective growers informed of National HPS Conservation updates, as well as local progress, or problems. If the absence of meetings continues, I will aim to create a network so that growers can pass plants to other relevant growers, and get them round the two counties that way.

I have asked for the Newsletter item, which explains the system and procedure, to be published on our website, along with this statement. Any interested members are welcome to contact me.

When I can update this further, I will also aim to include a list of the plants still being propagated within the Group.

For further information, look at the National HPS site, which also has photos of most of the plants in the full list.

Chris Davies 8.7.20



The Hardy Plant Society Conservation Scheme is overseen by a National Coordinator, but each Group has its own Coordinator.

Plants are on our list because there are too few (less than four) listed in the current Plant Finder and are not easy to find in horticulture.

They are assessed according to our criteria as worthy of conservation, and then grown on to share within the ‘parent’ Group’s Growers, then the Scheme, then to wider members of our Group and the Society, before being made available to interested nurserymen, with a view to them being distributed to the wider public, and, primarily, not lost to cultivation.

Our Group has traditionally had about 30 members who have become Growers. Each individual chooses which plants in the Scheme they would like to grow, and whether they want to grow just one variety, or more.

The Group Coordinator keeps track of who’s growing what, and, ideally four Growers are growing each of the plants, and their growth is recorded for four years, but forms are only filled in to note significant facts, (ie, not every year.). As they grow large enough to propagate, divisions should be separated and some returned to the Group Coordinator for further distribution within the Scheme. Since there are Groups growing the same plants across the country, preferred conditions can be identified through the record keeping, and made available when the plant is distributed into the wider world.

Whilst most of us probably suffer from feelings of guilt if a plant in our care dies, this would be expected in some circumstances, not just due to carelessness on the part of the Grower, (although you will not have your fingers slammed in the drawer if your’s does die!). Some plants will die because the local climate or soil conditions don’t suit them.

The form-filling required is really not onerous, and has been greatly simplified in recent years. In any event, Norfolk and Suffolk has been sadly lacking in Coordination for some time due to me allowing other things to take priority.

In normal years, propagated plants from the list are returned by the Group Coordinator to the Scheme to be shared with other Groups, and similarly, other Groups will bring plants to share with us, (September/ October). We can request plants from the National list, and will be given them, depending on availability.

It’s not clear what will happen this coming Autumn, and whether there will be a Coordinators’ Meeting or not, but we can look at the plants in our Group, and begin to plan sharing these, and putting in requests for new ones, if we choose.

When Sue Bulbrook was helping me coordinate our Group, we kept our own list to a manageable number, which seems to be a good practice, bearing in mind the criteria for the number of growers and the recommendations for growing the plants, that is, in the ground, and preferably in a separate area, to avoid losing labels, etc.

I will be writing to all members, inviting them to express their interest in becoming or remaining a Grower, and will provide relevant plant lists and we will attempt to get the Group going again. If you would care to look on the National website :-, you will find more information on how the National Scheme works, the plant lists, and copies of the forms.

On our Group website, go to ‘Plants’, then ‘Conservation’ on the drop-down menu, and you will find my last update, but without our local plant list. (There must be something about 6 year cycles!)

I also think that more contact between our Growers, even just by email, would be helpful to some if not most, so I would aim to make this happen.

By the time this is published we might know more about the possibility of the Coordinators’ Meeting this Autumn, so I will wait until then to write to everybody.

If you have an interest, you are welcome to contact me.

Chris Davies (Conservation Coordinator, Norfolk and Suffolk Group, HPS)