The big news is that we are mounting another seed collecting expedition to China which is happening this October. In fact, as we write this, we leave tomorrow Oct 1 - yikes! Thanks to our sponsors, both institutional and individual, we are able to mount an ambitious venture. This does not preclude late sponsors from joining up as it will help defray an array of costs we are incurring and we would be most grateful. Our last expedition in 2010 resulted in some exceptional introductions with an impressive array of new species, new introductions of species rarely collected or of species known only from herbarium specimens. In addition, species already in cultivation were not ignored if differences in geography, elevation or morphology were pronounced.
Our last expedition was possible only through the generosity of sponsorship by folks on our email list. Anyone who has been to the nursery quickly sees this is a labor of love and that we put doing the right thing way before making the most possible profit. Sponsorship of our last trip has allowed us to provide wild-origin plants with collection data to botanic gardens, researchers, botanists in the US and National Collection holders in the UK generally at no charge. Sponsorship allows us to focus not only on plants of ornamental merit for our gardens but also on plants of purely scientific or botanical interest. Undoubtedly, a number of these introductions will prove to have excellent garden merit as well and provide some dynamite genes for breeding work in their particular genus.
We have always suspected that we are saving plants from being lost due to pressure on habitat but we now know that for certain. One mountaintop where we collected a new species of Reineckea and as well as a Disporopsis not in cultivation had been razed almost immediately after our visit according to Steve Hootman who returned there this past spring. These are niche species and that niche is gone so we feel the trip was well worth it just for preserving these two species. (The Disporopsis is having its DNA sequenced this week by a researcher working on the genus who never thought he would be able to obtain living material of this particular species so we are feeling pretty good.)
Nearly all of our sponsors from our last trip have already contributed to this upcoming trip as well as as number of new sponsors which is much appreciated. We both go on these ventures and it is not a vacation that we are hoping to subsidize. We cannot stress enough that this is not a vacation. There is no sight-seeing or tourism. Up and out early for fieldwork all day in whatever weather or long rough travel in jeeps. Late into the night writing up field notes, keying collections, cleaning and packaging seed. Usually one of us gets sick or as in Sue’s case last time, injured. Fortunately the fractured fibula was on the last field day coming down off the last mountain.
The cost of doing this keeps going up as China becomes more prosperous. If you would like to help us do something we truly believe is for the greater good, then that would be great. We have no set level of giving and our sponsors all get a plant or two from the trip plus knowing they are contributing to botanical knowledge and preserving important genes. Major and institutional sponsors have a few other options as well and feel free to contact us for details. Plus it is pretty fun to get to go into the “Staff Only” greenhouses to look at the seedlings or see what is blooming for the first time when you come to the nursery! We will provide periodic updates on how the collections are doing and hope to provide updates from the field as well.
If you have questions, we would welcome the opportunity to talk further with you. We have added this online credit card option at $50.00 increments which has proven easy for some folks.