The RHS Wisley Herbarium

Sienna Hosta RHS Wisley Herbarium

We are delighted to have been working with the amazing team from the RHS Wisley Herbarium for quite some time now. The work done by the RHS Wisley Herbarium is vital to keep a historical record for botanist to use for the identification and classification of plants. With so many varieties of Hostas, we can see our work with them continuing for many years to come. The ultimate aim of the Herbarium is to have a sample of every type of plant grown in the UK, over 400,000. At present they hold over 90,000 specimens in their collection.

When samples are taken, the Herbarium team are looking for leaves, stems and flowers that are a good example of the variety. These samples are all colour charted immediately after being taken so that an accurate colour is recorded before the sample fades.  

Sienna Hosta RHS Wisley HerbariumRHS Wisley Herbarium Hostas

The process of pressing, mounting, sterilising and storing the specimens is a fascinating one. The Herbarium has recently moved from the Wisley Laboratory to it's new home at Hilltop, The Home of Gardening Science. This new state of the art facility has been purpose built to create the ideal condition for specimen storage. Once a sample is pressed and mounted it is put into a drying unit to be completely dried out before the process of sterilising.

To sterilise the sample it is put into a freezer at -40 degrees C, this kills any harmful organisms that could damage the collection. The storage room itself is temperature and humidity controlled, as well as this there are no water pipes running above this room in case of leaks. Every aspect has been considered to ensure these samples stand the test of time.

Drying Process RHS Wisley HerbariumRHS Wisley HerbariumRHS Wisley Herbarium
The Sienna Hosta team was lucky enough to be invited for a tour around the Herbarium at the end of 2023, which was a real treat. To see how the process worked and precautions in place to preserve the collection was truly amazing. It was really humbling to know that our samples will be part of this incredible collection for hundreds if not thousands of years, a real possibility considering the new technology. 
During our visit we were shown one of the oldest Hosta samples in the collection, Hosta lancifolia from 1939, a variety we still sell to this day. The most amazing sample we had the honour of seeing was a potato plant specimen taken by the one and only Charles Darwin! The RHS Herbarium is a public collection and is available for anyone to view, we would highly recommend it. If you are not able to go to see the collection in person, they are now in the process of uploading all of the specimens online to be viewed. View the Herbarium here
Sienna Hosta Team RHS Wisley Herbarium
RHS Wisley Herbarium Charles Darwin SpecimenLancifolia specimen

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We have just returned from the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. We are starting to catch up on orders please bear with us if there are any slight delays to deliveries or enquiry replies.

Thank you to everyone who came to see our Gold winning display!