Plant Conservation at Nymans

Charlene Chick at Nymans

Part of my job as Nymans Propagator is to work alongside Head Gardener, Stephen Herrington and Conservation Craft Gardener, Philip Holmes on recording individual plants history, location and significance to Nymans.

Nymans micro Rhododendron
Nymans micro Rhododendron

Specialist organisations

In the nursery we also propagate those we can grow here on site and work with the National Trust’s Plant Conservation Centre in Devon and Duchy College to ensure the survival of our plants.

These places have high-tech facilities in propagation, skills in bespoke propagation, as well as space to grow on any material we send to them, so they're of significant size to re-plant back into our collections. These organisations are pivotal in preserving our plant history and the survival of our plants.

Desfontainea spinosa
Desfontainea spinosa

Plant Heritage Collections 

Nymans is a grade II listed garden because of its significant plant collection. We have one of the most interesting and diverse collections of plants in the National Trust and hold two Plant Heritage Collections: the national collection of Erica and Calluna and the Harold Comber Collection. This means we have dedicated ourselves to document, develop and preserve a comprehensive collection of plants for the future.

Harold Comber on a plant hunting expedition
Harold Comber on a plant hunting expedition

Our Harold Comber Collection means that Nymans holds the most number of plants that are connected to Harold Comber, the son of Nymans Head Gardener, James Comber (1895-1953), where the plants are either original collected material by him or named varieties after him.

The Sussex Heather cultivars is a collection of plants where all variety names are directly connected to a person, family, garden or place in Sussex.

Many of our plants came to this garden as wild origin material via plant collecting trips in the 1920s. We have a great history of plant hunters and are lucky that the Messel family have always been plant focused, meaning that new and exciting species have been introduced to the garden.

On a daily basis we record, propagate and work on getting all significant plants in our collection labelled, tagged and put onto the National Trust’s Gardens and Parks Database.

This  ensures their survival and means that we don’t lose either the individual plants or their history. Currently we have 37 champion trees and 36 plants named in connection with Nymans.