The seedy side of the RHS

As the Society's seed scheme opens for orders again, we take a look back at a year in Seed

As well as offering our members the opportunity to purchase seeds harvested from RHS gardens, we also aim to share the best in gardening by providing you with all you need to know about collecting, storing and successfully germinating your seeds. Our ‘Collecting seed from your garden’ leaflet will tell you all you need to know about how to collect, clean and store seeds from your own garden. 

We have also launched a series of events: 
 
Harvesting seed at WisleyIn October 2014 we began hosting an annual event called Seeds on Show in the Glasshouse gallery at Wisley, and this year we were joined by Plant Heritage, The Cyclamen Society and the Alpine Garden Society. We had a range of interesting and unusual seeds on display, as well as having seed for sale.

During the weekend we held a series of free behind-the-scenes tours of the Seed Department, demonstrating what and how to collect seed and looking at how to clean and store it. We will be running this event again in 2016 (see table at the end of the main Seed Scheme page for 2016 dates).
 
At RHS Garden Wisley we have planted up a raised border (next to the Honest Sausage café) which showcases plants that can be grown from seed (all seed from our RHS gardens). Most of the plants were sown in early spring and were flowering by the summer which we hope will illustrate what you can do at home.
 
In August 2015 we ran a workshop on Harvesting and Preparation of Seed at Wisley. We will be running two more workshops in August and September 2016, one at RHS Garden Wisley and one at RHS Garden Rosemoor, explaining the best techniques and timings for harvesting, cleaning and storing your seeds to ensure maximum germination rates. For further details contact adultlearning@rhs.org.uk.

Ensuring quality

We are seeking to standardise the quality of our seeds, so this year we have introduced germination tests on some of our more popular seed, in order to make sure that the seeds we send out are viable. We have used methods that can be used at home such as heated propagators, cold frames and unheated greenhouses. Our volunteers are helping us and one of them has successfully germinated the giant lily, Cardiocrinum giganteum, which is notoriously difficult to germinate (see article ‘Not all seed is equal’ for more details). We have had many successes, although are still waiting for some of the trickier plants to germinate!
 
We do welcome any feedback you have about the seedlist and our email address is seeddepts@rhs.org.uk
 
On behalf of the Seed Team we would like to wish you happy seed sowing in 2016!
 
Heather Cooke                                   Lucie Rudnicka
Team Leader, Seed                            Horticulturist, Seed

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