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Kent Alpine Gardener's Diary

This entry: 08 October 2015 by Tim Ingram

Alpine Open Day at Wisley

The Alpine Open Day at Wisley on Thursday 1st October was a unique event in that it brought together the AGS, SRGC, and the alpine sections of RHS Wisley, Edinburgh Botanic Garden and Cambridge Botanics. It was an RHS event in the sense of being held at Wisley and centred on the Joint Rock Garden Committee, but the aim - which must be obvious from the discussions elsewhere on this website and on the SRGC Forum - was to capture a wider horticultural following in growing alpines, to raise the profile of these plants in general, and to encourage more gardeners to consider joining the AGS and SRGC.

At its height several decades ago the AGS had twice the membership it now has, and although alpines are not always easy plants to grow and do require more dedication and application this is surely an ongoing aim of gardening in general. Coming from a scientific background it also raised for me the simple questions of why gardeners should find alpines of interest and value, and the extent to which the societies really encourage growing and learning about these plants amongst a new generation of gardeners? We may say we do but the numbers tell a different story. Does the horticultural world have a strong connection with the natural world? Of course it does, and so too it has with the individual gardener. The specialist alpine societies, the AGS and SRGC, have historically fostered this connection and still do. The greatest value that I see in them is in encouraging an interest in the world of plants beyond the garden - by growing them in the garden. From this comes that appreciation of the true diversity of plants and the drive to keep this high on the horticultural agenda. This though lies outside much of the commercial imperatives of horticulture and yet is so important to many of us who are members of the specialist plant societies.

The day was very enjoyable with a good audience filling the Hillside Centre at Wisley and a steady flow of people coming in at different times. Gillian and I would like to personally thank Mary Randall for the invitation to bring plants and Mike Pitcher and the RHS staff - and the Woking AGS Group - for their organisation of the day. I will look in more detail at the day in a following entry.

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