Back in September 2019 EBTS UK succeeded in collecting donations to fund 5 herbarium archive boxes needed by the RHS Herbarium to store the current and future Buxus samples. Thanks to the generosity of our members and online supporters, the target of £1,500 needed for the boxes was achieved. This meant that when the existing samples were moved to the new facility in RHS Hilltop – the home of gardening science at RHS Wisley, they would be stored in strong archival boxes designed for the purpose, rather than being kept in a variety of rather battered old folders. Chris Poole went to meet up with Yvette Harvey, Keeper of the Herbarium to see the boxes and take a look at the new facilities.
On the day that the RHS Herbarium was booked to move out of its old home in the rather leaky and no longer fit for purpose laboratory building, the Covid lock down went into effect which stopped the planned move. The archive had been due to be sent to a facility in Chiswick where it would be frozen to kill off any pests that might have snuck into the specimens, but due to the lock down, the facility was closed. Luckily the removal company that had been due to carry out the transfer to Chiswick were instead able to supply one of their freezer trucks and and park up outside the Laboratory building. Whilst being a little unorthodox, this significantly reduced the amount of movement of specimens and allowed them to stay onsite at RHS Wisley at all times reducing potential risk to the 90,000 item collection.
Plant Pest Identification
The freezing process was also used to make sure the specimens that are used for identification purposes by the plant pest team were bug free, other than those that were supposed to be there, pinned into the display draws. This collection is now stored in a another climate controlled room and everything is now easily accessible and not just in a filing cabinet in an over full office as it used to be in the old building.
The Laboratory Bulding
The half-timbered Tudor house that many visitors assume is an old building, was actually built between 1914 and 1916 by architects Pine-Coffin, Imrie and Angell. Designed in the Arts and Crafts style, which emphasised craftsmanship in an age of industrialisation, draws on the local architecture of surrounding buildings in Surrey. It is now being renovated and will contain dedicated exhibition space and there will be interactive laboratories and rooms dedicated to telling the story of the RHS Laboratory.