An innovative new visitor attraction, designed to celebrate our native wildflowers and champion efforts to conserve and restore threatened habitats in the UK, opens to the public on July 17 at Wakehurst Place, Kew’s country estate in West Sussex.
Keith Datchler OBE, a trustee of The Grasslands Trust and the High Weald Landscape Trust, will officially open the new seed production site for Kew’s UK Native Seed Hub at 10am on July 17.
Visitors will be able to see conservation in action at the seed production site, where a variety of British wildflowers are being grown to provide vital supplies of seeds for conservation projects around the country to restore wildflower meadows and grasslands.
Ten giant flower sculptures by renowned sculptor Tom Hare will greet people as they visit the site – including a towering oxeye daisy and 3.5 metre tall red campion – and highlight some of species being grown in 24 seed production beds.
An apiary with six hives will highlight the importance of bees in pollinating flowers; an interactive display will enable people to discover more about the project and its benefits to UK biodiversity; and the seed theme will continue with seats shaped like a seed husk and small seed play ‘pods’.
Visitors will also be able to see a newly restored meadow, and find out more about how about how experts at Wakehurst care for the rural landscape, including using a flock of Southdown sheep for grazing.
Jo Wenham, Wakehurst’s Plant Propagation and Conservation Manager, said: “This is an exciting project and a completely new landscape which celebrates the conservation work that goes on at Wakehurst.
“There will be something for all ages to enjoy and discover – visitors can follow the willow sculpture trail, see how our spring lambs are progressing and learn how sheep graze the pastures and wildflower meadows here; see the apiary and enjoy the beauty of the wildflowers.”
Jo added: “Seeds from the UK Native Seed Hub will be used in a range of different conservation projects, we are currently growing cowslips, for example, which will be used for landscape restoration on the South Downs. We hope visitors will be fascinated to find out about the work going on and learn about the significance of the plants being grown here.”
Keith Datchler OBE said: “Hay meadows are now reduced to 2% of their pre-war era. Sentinels of the past, guardians for the future, nectar networks threaded through the landscape – we lose them at our peril.”
Source: RBG Kew Media Advisory
Date: Tuesday July 17
Time: 10am onwards (see notes to editors)
Place: Wakehurst Place, Selsfield Road, Ardingly, near Haywards Heath, West Sussex RH17 6TN