It pretty much goes without saying that the plants in a National Collection should be accurately identified and labelled. I really wish I could say that this was true of the Mount Edgcumbe collection but for a variety of reasons it is not. I have been working with the collection as a volunteer for some years and one of the key tasks I have set myself is to correct the errors as far as I can.
Plant Heritage, who oversee National Collections, have a database system on which the records of the Camellia collection are held. I see it as a priority to keep that record as up to date and accurate as possible. There are 1783 records in the database. 24 apply to plants that have died and are no longer there. 109 apply to records which are excluded from the collection because I’m sure, or fairly sure, that they are not the variety that their labels say they are. I’m gradually removing their labels and replacing them with a tag showing their collection number only. I think it preferable that people see no name than one that is definitely or probably wrong.
That leaves the rest. All 1650 of them. By no means am I certain of the identities of all of them. It’s more a case of not currently having any particular reason to think they are wrong. Checking identities is an ongoing process but it is not at all easy to do. If a plant has double flowers when the Register says they should be single, or white flowers when they should be red, then I know that the name is virtually certainly wrong, but finding the correct name is very much more difficult.
I’m currently working my way through the collection from top to bottom and I have added a section to this website to highlight the 100+ varieties that I am still trying to identify. It is on the front page menu, entitled ‘Idents Needed’. My intention is to include all the currently excluded plants, with as much information about them as I can, in the hope that someone will recognise something and put me on track to a correct identification.
Please read the header section under ‘Idents Needed’ before getting into the plants themselves.