Once upon a Pelargonium…

Working on the Threatened Plants Project requires trawling through a lot of spreadsheets and computer data, so I only rarely get mail in the office. Imagine my surprise when I received this in April :

Rosa damascena embroidery
Rosa damascena embroidery

This beautiful piece of embroidery, which represents the Damask Rose (Rosa x damascena), is based on an engraving by Basil Besler, a 17th century German botanist and apothecary. It is the work of Mia Buehr, a Scottish volunteer and embroidery enthusiast who has proved a great asset to the TPP.

Mia has been working as a volunteer for almost two years now, and has achieved an enormous amount of work for the project, listing three genera (including the very large Hedera – ivy), checking collections for 65 genera and identifying more than 5000 threatened cultivars, like this rare Colchicum :

Colchicum 'Daendels'
Colchicum ‘Daendels’

Volunteers like her play an essential role in the progress of the project and deserve recognition, so I embarked on a quest to find her an appropriate gift, as a (small) thanks for all the (big) work she has been doing. A rare and threatened plant seemed particularly fitting, so I decided to have a look at the RHS Horticultural Database, and list all the cultivars named ‘Mia’. There were 9, mainly houseplants such as an Anthurium and a Streptocarpus.

But one caught my attention, a Pelargonium cultivar. Tracking the plant was not easy : it is not listed in the RHS Plant Finder and I couldn’t find it in specialist nurseries. Eventually, I discovered it in one of the National Collections of Pelargonium, on the Isle of Wight.
The Collection Holder was extremely kind and agreed to send two cuttings of the plant later in the year….which arrived last week, tightly packed into a cereal box :

IMG_20130731_111611And here is Mia, with her little Pelargonium plant safely landed and repotted in Scotland (note the red label – the cultivar is considered as “critical in cultivation” as it has only been found in one collection to date)… Mia, a warm thank you for all your hard work!

Mia and 'Mia'
Mia and ‘Mia’

For those of you who are interested in embroidery, Mia maintains a blog (The accidental embroiderer) where she displays her creations…feel free to have a look!

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