Kew Wins Medal at Chelsea Flower Show
Message in a Bottle, an exhibit by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, won a Silver-Gilt Lindley medal at this year's Royal Horticultural Society's Chelsea Flower Show. The exhibit presented a plea for help from threatened island plants ? both species from remote oceanic islands and those isolated within continents by their geographical setting. Horticulturists, botanists and other plant conservationists are responding to this plea and developing techniques to rescue the most threatened species before they vanish completely.
The six plants chosen for display are all from isolated communities, but crucially, they are Kew success stories - they still exist because of conservation intervention by Kew. Only one wild caf? marron tree survives on its home island of Rodrigues. Kew's horticulturists recently made a major breakthrough when they managed to pollinate its flowers so that it produced seed. Easter Island's toromiro tree is extinct in the wild and there are just a few trees in botanic gardens around the world. Kew's conservation geneticists are advising on breeding programmes to protect the species while retaining genetic diversity. Australia's Wollemi pine is the most recently discovered species but probably the oldest on the exhibit, surviving since the time of the dinosaurs. Only 100 have ever been found, growing in an isolated canyon. Commercially propagated Wollemi pines will be sold to raise funds to conserve the wild trees.