Joining the dots

If Bal-Ham is the gateway to the south, then the A303 must be the gateway to the south-west.  Regular frequenters of this route plied me with advice on where to stop for my afternoon cup of tea when I left the office to go down to Devon for a Taxonomy workshop at RHS Rosemoor.

Susyn Andrews was doing her fourth session for us on the systems used to name plants and the pitfalls to avoid.  Twelve Collection Holders, six Rosemoor gardeners and a couple of Collections Coordinators spent the day joining the dots in their knowledge of Taxonomy and being introduced to the resources available to find out more.

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Coffee time

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After lunch most of us headed off to stretch our legs in the garden and clear our heads for the afternoon

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and returned refreshed for the next session.  There was quite a bit of discussion through the day about how DNA profiling might affect the classification of plants thus adding to the constant shuffling of plants between groups and the options on splitting and lumping.

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For me interesting things that have now made it into long-term memory;

hort. applied to a plant name means of garden origin – but not the plant, the name, so Sedum guatemalayense hort. means that it was probably originally the Sedum from Guatemala and in usage this became the now accepted name.

misapplied – plants bought with a name listed as misapplied should be treated with some care in that you might have the correct plant or you might have something erroneously called the name which should be called something else.  At this stage you would need to research the descriptions to find out what you’ve got.

variety – never, never, never use the word variety when you mean cultivar.  Taxonomically they do not mean the same although they are often used interchangeably especially when referring to vegetable cultivars.  Variety is used to denote a structural or morphological difference.

As ever we are very grateful for the funding for these workshops from Brother UK, NFU Mutual, The Tanner Trust and The Topinambour Trust.

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We also appreciated the hospitality of RHS Rosemoor, using one of the classrooms in their Peter Buckley Learning Centre.

PS There was an entertaining programme on Radio 4 on Saturday morning ‘The Etymology of Entomology‘ which covered some of the same issues but related to the insect world.  They seem to have a sense of humour when naming their new finds, although one scientist probably regretted naming an insect after Hitler.

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