Gone to seed

Eva Steinberg, GCA Interchange Fellow on placement from the USA to the UK, has joined the seed team at RHS Garden Wisley

The last three weeks have been such a whirlwind of arriving in the UK, settling in at RHS Garden Wisley and, as much as possible, trying to avoid getting lost (thank goodness for Google Maps!).

My first placement is working with the Seed Department at Wisley. The team is responsible for maintaining the RHS Member Seed Scheme, a program allowing RHS members to buy up to 15 packets of hand-collected and cleaned seeds, packaged at RHS Gardens.  

Early autumn is an incredibly busy time of year for this as we are finishing collecting from the garden, compiling next year’s seed list, working at two RHS events (Seeds on Show at the Festival of Trees and Taste of Autumn), and reorganizing the cold storage room to get ready for seed shipments later this year. 

So far the highlight of my time at Wisley has been working at Seeds on Show.  We set up seeds from last year’s list for non-members to purchase, as well as a display of interesting and exotic-looking seeds and seed pods that visitors could touch in order to get a sense of the stunning diversity of seeds (and the plants they become). The children were especially enamoured by these seeds, and were so enthusiastic to plant the pot marigold (Calendula) seed we gave them. Their excitement really encapsulated what I see as the purpose of the RHS Seed Scheme - to inspire people to grow plants at home and connect with their gardens in a new way.  

So much of our lives is centred around being as efficient as possible and seeking instant gratification,  growing from seed is a way to be present for the entire process. By encouraging people to start plants from seed, we are also encouraging them to engage with the natural world in a new and rewarding way.

In the next month, I will be continuing to work with the Wisley Seed Department, before heading to Kew Wakehurst to work at the Millennium Seed Bank. So far I’m loving my time in the UK, I am stunned by how beautiful everything is and how engrained gardening is in British culture - it’s truly amazing and I feel so lucky to be here.

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