Keeping Up with Conservation: The National Collection Beds

The National Collection beds are a living museum of rare plants cared for in sixty 12’x25’ growing beds. Each plant is accessioned and assigned and individual number tag to identify provenance and parentage. These plants represent some of the rarest species of Florida. Many of the beds house species that no longer exist in the wild or rescued plants from now-extirpated populations, or (as in the case of the Florida Ziziphus), serve as effectively the only place in the world where seeds are produced.

Ziziphus plants growing in the National Collection Beds

The plants in the beds also provide unique opportunities to perform research on lifecycle, seed output, or pollinator identification, along with research that cannot be done in the wild, such as hybridization trials between genotypes or species. The beds also provide unique educational and photographic opportunities, as they are the only place where these numerous rare species are growing together, To care for this important collection, ongoing maintenance of the bed area takes place, including regularly checking of irrigation parts, keeping the aisles smooth and safe, weeding of each bed, regular plant inventories, and replacing signage and bed borders as needed. This intensive, ongoing work is achieved because of the dedication and hard work of highly efficient volunteers.

In February, volunteers Lowell Evans and Joe Fabach replaced length of ground cloth to repair areas that had become damaged and ripped over time. They also refilled holes in the beds left by a recent irrigation break and leveled the walkways. Volunteers Bea Armstrong and Dot Demyan continued their amazing twice per week work to keep the beds weeded, Bea for seven years and Dot for going on ten years! Successful conservation is truly possible only because of good teamwork and the individuals who dedicate their extra time and effort to making it successful, and we are enormously grateful for their hard work.