Seed harvesting draws to a close

Late season seed collecting and the opportunity to grow a piece of RHS Garden Wisley at home

It’s been a mild autumn here in Surrey, so the Seed Team is taking advantage of the weather. On fair days we are out in the garden collecting seed from late summer flowering plants.
Primula candelabra hybrids
For those of you who are not familiar with our work; we manage the RHS Seed Scheme. There are two of us in the team, as well as a group of volunteers.

We are also cleaning seed which we have collected for our Propagation Team to grow. It allows us to bulk up plants such as lovely Primula Candelabra hybrids, plus Cyclamen coum AGM and C. hederifolium AGM. All these create a big 'wow' factor when they are planted en masse.

RHS Seed Scheme

The RHS Seed Scheme enables members to buy seed which has been collected from RHS Gardens. Our aim is to encourage and inspire people to have a go at growing from seed. It is a chance to grow at home some of the choice plants that are growing in RHS gardens.
Rehmannia elata
One of the ways we have tried to promote growing from seed this year was to create a raised border by the Honest Sausage café at RHS Garden Wisley to showcase plants grown from seed. It was planted up in April and we are pleased to see that it’s still looking good, with the beautiful and delicately drooping pink, tubular flowers of Chinese foxglove, Rehmannia elata AGM still in flower.

New additions

New on our seedlist this year is a collection called Greening Grey Britain, inspired by the RHS campaign to transform hard grey areas into planted spaces. The collection includes plants which are suitable for a gravel garden or an exposed front garden.
Another collection new to our list is the Prairie collection. This includes a range of seed collected from plants growing in the prairie-style Glasshouse Borders. These are ornamental grasses and low maintenance herbaceous perennials that give late seasonal colour and structure.

Rare seedsStipa gigantea

Weather conditions this year have allowed us to collect seed from golden oats, Stipa gigantea, an architectural grass with long, golden panicles of flowers. These look fantastic when backlit by the low evening sun.

Heralding from southern Spain, Portugal and northern Morocco, this grass rarely sets seed in the UK, so when it does we try to collect as much as possible. We have several plants growing here at Wisley, but only one, maybe two plants, set seed in any one year (and never the same plant!) Being wind dispersed the seed doesn’t hang around for long, so it’s a race against time to check every plant to find viable seed.

If you are an RHS member we do hope you will take the opportunity to order from our new RHS Seed Scheme catalogue (4.5MB pdf), available from now until the end of March. We would love to hear how you get on with your seed sowing.
You can contact us on:

Useful links

Find out more about the RHS Seed Scheme

Read guidance on germinating harvest seed (945kB pdf)

RHS Advice: Seed sowing outdoors

RHS Advice: Seed sowing indoors

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