National trust discovers forgotten cultivars

Garden and greenhouse enthusiasts could soon see the reintroduction of a number of rare cultivars after the National Trust discovered them growing in some of its gardens.

The organisation was surprised to find some of the historical varieties flourishing of their own accord on its land.

According to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), a Weinmannia trichosperma – believed to be the oldest in the country – has been growing un-noticed for more than a century at Mount Stewart in Northern Ireland.

Other examples include a Quercus robur Purpurascens purple oak at Belton House in Lincolnshire and a Creeks Cross Rhododendron, originally produced by Trengwainton head gardener Alfred Creek more than seven decades ago.

Mike Buffin is overseeing the study for the National Trust and explained that it seems the organisation only knew of around five to ten per cent of what it had in its gardens.

"Were not a botanical institution and historically we were more interested in whether a landscape had an interesting feel and historical presence rather than what was in it," he said.

The National Trust has 3.5 million members and more than 52,000 volunteers helping to care for over 300 houses and gardens.