Sustainable growing charity wins coveted title for work in preserving important plant - The Rugby Observer

Sustainable growing charity wins coveted title for work in preserving important plant

Rugby Editorial 27th Oct, 2023   0

A SUSTAINABLE growing charity based in Ryton-on-Dunsmore has been awarded a coveted title for its work in preserving an important plant.

The guardianship of the National Plant Collection for Symphytum – more widely known as comfrey – has been awarded to Garden Organic by Plant Heritage.

It is a glowing accolade for the charity’s work documenting, developing and preserving a comprehensive collection at its organic demonstration gardens in Ryton – also the location of the Heritage Seed Library, which already has National Plant Collection status.

Emma O’Neill, head gardener at Garden Organic, said: “We’ve worked hard to establish and preserve 29 varieties of comfrey – and are always on the lookout for new varieties of this important plant.

“We’re committed to conserving a diverse range of garden plants to protect plant diversity and boost biodiversity. Our Heritage Seed Library already conserves and protects 800-plus historic heritage varieties.

Red comfrey growing at the charity’s demonstration gardens in Ryton.

“We’ve been growing comfrey throughout our 65-year history as our founder Lawrence Hills led experiments using the herb, which showed it was an excellent natural fertiliser.”

Comfrey leaves are rich in plant nutrients which, once steeped in water, create an organic fertiliser which boosts leaf growth, promotes root development and helps flowers and fruit to form.

It also produces flowers which attract bees and hoverflies essential for pollination. It makes a great ground cover, an effective mulch and helps break up tough soil.

Horticultural conservation charity Plant Heritage currently oversees 95,000 plants held in more than 700 different National Plant Collections spread across the country.

These ‘living libraries’ are a vital resource for plant conservation, and protect and keep many different plant groups alive, ensuring they remain in cultivation.

Gill Groombridge, business manager at Plant Heritage, said: “Garden Organic has expertly cared for the Heritage Seed Library – a hugely important resource – for 15 years, so we’re delighted they also now have a comfrey collection too. Without collection holders like Garden Organic, our ongoing plant conservation work wouldn’t be possible.

“Given the ever-changing climate issues we face, it’s vital that new National Plant Collections are accredited, as this ensures that a range of plants remain in cultivation for future generations while benefitting the wider environment.”

Visit for instructions on how to grow and harvest comfrey and make liquid plant feed.

Visit for more about Garden Organic, and for Plant Heritage and its National Plant Collections.

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