June was a bumper month in the RHS Garden magazine with articles on three National Collection holders; Terry Baker’s Digitalis, Evelyn Stevens’ Meconopsis and Henry and Susie Robinson’s Roses. During 2011 Chris Lane, Sue Martin and Doug Smith have written about their collections (Wisteria, Geum and Araliaceae). The Croft Narcissus of Duncan and Kate Donald, Val Le May Neville-Parry’s Clematis montana and Vicky and Richard Fox’s Heuchera have been the subjects of pieces by other writers. Copies of these items are now bound and housed in the monograph section of the two libraries at RHS Wisley. The 12 Collections at the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens and the nursery at Crûg Farm (Coriaria, Paris, Polygonatum) have also been featured and National Collection Holders are always referenced at the end of relevant articles.
I have been volunteering at RHS Wisley since 2000 and usually do 2-3 days a month behind the scenes. This can involve solving IT problems, moving books, sending material for storage or binding, and sorting donations. However my one regular job is building up the monograph section of the libraries with articles from The Garden. A monograph is a book or article about one genus of plant and the library at Wisley prides itself on its collection of these items.
Once I have guillotined the relevant pages, I use an in-house hot-melt system to bind the articles and with a front sheet this makes the information easily available to the public and the RHS staff. All the articles written about a particular genus since 1992 (when the magazine changed from its A5 format) are housed in the 930 section of the Garden and the Laboratory libraries.
For some under-represented plants this adds significant quantities of information, but others, such as Clematis and Rosa have inches of shelf space devoted to these articles. They are very popular with the public as they can easily be taken and read rather than having to look up an article in a bound annual volume of The Garden, a fairly hefty tome. RHS staff find them useful as it brings together everything that has been written in the magazine over the last 19 years. The front-of-house volunteers say that it’s like filing fish on the shelves as they are quite slippery, but that’s a small drawback for this valuable collection of information.