Ventnor’s special micro-climate is helping to secure national stocks of a plant belonging to the Pineapple family.

Ventnor Botanic Gardens has been successful in growing the Puya species, which has resulted in a National Collection.

The plant is native to the Andes Mountains of South America and can only survive here in heated greenhouses because of the risk of frost.

But, unsually, they are being grown outside at the Ventnor gardens thanks to the Island’s mild climate.

Curator Chris Kidd said:

When these plants are grown out of doors, they thrive a lot better than they would do if they were under glass and they can be grown in a much more sustainable way. We don’t have glasshouses here which we have to heat with carbon-producing fuels in order to grow them. So we’re relying very heavily on the natural micro-climates and the genes of the plants to do what they’re supposed to do and they grow very well here for it.

And he said that the National Collection at Ventnor shows the importance of the facility:

Since May 2000 our accession policy has accelerated at Ventnor to pursue species untried in the UK climate or on the verge of hardiness. The National Collection of Puya is as a result of this policy, and in recognition of the potential of this site.

Chris has been working closely with Dr John David from the RHS and Kew, as well as specialists in Germany and Chile who are helping with his work on establishing good scientific records.

Speaking on the new Collection Plant Heritage conservation officer, Mercy Morris said:

I am very pleased, on behalf of Plant Heritage, to celebrate the arrival of the Puya collection; firstly because as a single genus it is currently unrepresented in the Collections, and secondly because it is a pleasure to see Collections being held at Ventnor again. We look forward to seeing more in the future.