tending the plants

Growing up in a family of gardeners had to rub off a little. But Robbie took it further…..

As a teenager, heavily influenced by the great plant hunters like Forrest, Kingdon-Ward and Banks and conservationists such as Gerald and Lee Durrell, Robbie’s garden was stuffed full of botanical treasures such as Gunnera, Giant lobelias, Puya and hardy orchids.

Robbie is one of a new generation of innovative horticulturalists blending the spheres of gardening and conservation. He is the driving force behind ‘FossilPlants’; a ‘backyard botanic garden’ housing a collection of early evolutionary plants alongside many others. Renowned for succeeding with difficult to grow plant species, he uses his skills to propagate rare and unusual plants for horticulture.

Robbie’s current, personal research is in trying to understand two plant families: the more unusual members of the Ericaceae and the glamorous Southern Hemisphere Proteaceae, both deemed tricky in cultivation. Other passions include Oncocyclus Iris, Parnassia, Diapensiaceae, plant/fungi interactions and understanding the evolutionary links between the world’s plant species.

In his role writing for ‘The Guardian’, he entices gardeners to grow something a little bit different, to step out of the boundaries set by mainstream horticulture. He does this by providing useful insights into how these plants have been introduced into cultivation, as well as tips on how to grow them.

With a keen interest in plant science and evolution it is unsurprising that he is a fellow of ‘The Linnean Society Of London’ – the world’s premier society for the study of natural history and his love of antipodean plant species has led to his Chairmanship of the Australasian Plant Society in Great Britain.

In 2015 the decision was made that he would set up a nursery of his own; a nursery with a difference. The Plant Conservation Research Nursery project was born and a crowdfunding campaign got the project off the ground.

You can help him research the cultivation and conservation of threatened plants by donating to the conservation research nursery project.

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