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Plant Propagation Update

Plants propagated by seed by the lath house.

In recent years, the horticulture department at Historic London Town and Gardens has worked to enhance our plant propagation efforts. One year ago, London Town was hit by a tornado that ripped through our gardens. We only closely missed one again earlier this month. Fortunately, we did not lose any core collections, but it was a fierce reminder of how easily that could occur. Additionally, as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of being open to the public, we recognize that many of our plants are themselves around 50 years old and coming to the end of their natural lives.

London Town’s gardens contain diverse collections, including exotic specimens and test species. Some are endangered in the wild. There are Camellias, Hollies, Azaleas, and others that were first tested here. Many are unique – at least without anything comparable nearby. To protect the gardens’ collections, we have begun working to build a reservoir of seeds, saplings, and nursery stock.

All of us are grateful to the generous donors and volunteers who have helped us improve our plant propagation program. Propagation ensures that there are always ways to replenish our most important species. Creating a seed bank and properly storing saplings and nursery stock is the best way to maintain our special collections.

Since our request for funding last year, we’ve made considerable strides towards improving our plant propagation efforts. Director of Horticulture Meenal Harankhedkar and her staff and volunteers have been excited to share what support likes yours has made possible.

Behind the scenes improvements: improved grading, cleaned up areas, new storage spaces, and more!

Some highlights include adding a new horticulture office and storage space. Your generosity has also improved the behind-the-scenes areas with better grading and gravel.

You have made possible adding benches, shade cloth, and a frame designed for propagation efforts. We now have new bins and supplies. The greenhouse has plenty of new supplies, including heat mats, storage shelves, propagation mediums, trays, and more! Our Living Collections Curation and Restoration Assistant Grace Washbourne has done a wonderful job of propagating any seeds remaining from 2020 as well as the new All-American Selection Winner seeds received this year.

All the new annual flowers planted near the Lath House were propagated by seed.

In the future, we’re planning a seed exchange. We’re also planning to soon start on Camellia cuttings and propagate full shade plants like Star Anise (Illicium sps).

Learn more about seed propagation and germination in these related Botanist's Lens posts: "Seed Dormancy: 'Surviving the Adverse'" and "Propagate, 'Causing of Plants to Reproduce'"

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the campaign. Your generosity has helped with our efforts in “ex-situ” conservation of plant species. Ex-situ means that the plant is being conserved away from its original habitat, especially if the area is threatened. Plant propagation ensures that not only are London Town’s core collections cared for, but that species endangered in the wild are maintained for the future.

If you’d like to support London Town’s plant propagation efforts, you can do so here. Your donation is 100% tax deductible. London Town’s Tax ID is 52-1396159.

SAVE THE DATE: London Town's Fall Plant Sale will be Saturday, September 25, 9am - 2pm. Learn more about this garden fundraiser here!

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