NEWS IN DETAIL...
Mastering the Art of Micro-propagation . . .
A National Trust employee has been learning about micro-propagation in order to help conserve a rare tree species with Duchy College Rosewarne's Horticultural Researcher, Ros Smith.
Steve Whitaker is on the National Trust Careership Scheme which is a practical training programme aimed to develop the expertise required to look after gardens within the Trust. Steve started his careership at Trengwainton Gardens, near Penzance, and has now secured a permanent position at Coleton Fishacre, near Kingswear in Devon. As part of his diploma he has to complete a research project and that is where Ros’ expertise has been invaluable.
Steve explained: “I decided to concentrate my research on using micro-propagation as a technique to save Athrotaxis which is a rare member of the Cupressaceae family. This species is growing at Trengwainton but it is fairly uncommon so I wanted to learn about how we could conserve it.”
Steve has been spending one day every fortnight with Ros in the laboratory for the past twelve months and he only has few months to go before his project deadline approaches.
“I didn’t know anything about micro-propagation before I started so it’s been a great insight. Ros has taught me about different micro-propagation techniques, including how to make up the growth media’s and interpret recipes. It’s not a quick process and it can take years before you have anything big enough to plant. I hope to see some of my cuttings root in the future.
“It’s really important to help preserve plant species, for the environment and for people to enjoy. I’m pleased with the results, Ros has been so helpful and I wouldn’t have been able to do this project without her expertise or the support of Trengwainton and Coleton Fishacre,” added Steve.
Ros has completed a lot of research into the conservation of rare plant species and has successfully propagated rhododendrons, which have been severely affected by Phytophthora ramorum or Sudden Oak Death disease. Her research is helping to save this plant species.
Andrew Counsell, Head of Duchy College, said: “Ros’ work is highly recognised in the world of micro-propagation and it’s brilliant that she is sharing her expertise with Steve.”
To find out more about the horticulture courses available at Duchy College Rosewarne, please call 0845 605 0455 or visit the website www.duchy.ac.uk