Loyd G. Kelly Conservation Nurseryat the Montgomery Botanical Center
Caring for the Rare
At the completion of a Montgomery Botanical Center expedition, seeds, documentation, herbarium specimens, and photographs are given directly to the Collections Development (CD) Department for critical evaluation. The CD team confirms that the seeds are wild-collected and that all data required to make the germplasm scientifically valuable are present. If the seeds will increase the scientific quality of Montgomery’s collections, they are accessioned and their data are entered into the plant database. To ensure that financial resources are not used to grow more plants than required for the future development of the collection, Collections Development determines how many seeds should be sent to the Horticulture Department for permanent inclusion in Montgomery’s collection. Any extra seeds are immediately released and donated to botanical gardens and plant societies.
Montgomery’s Nursery Curator then processes and evaluates the collection locality data and any other available horticultural information to design germination and growing procedures specific to the needs of the new accession. After years of experimenting with various types of germination procedures and growing media, several propagation protocols and soil recipes are now being used.
For every accession in the nursery, the nursery curator documents plant-care procedures in the nursery propagation log. Daily records are kept of the number of seeds germinating, chemicals used for disease and insect problems, fertilization regimens, when and how repotting occurs, and bench relocations. Those data are submitted weekly to the CD Department, where they are added to the propagation records in the database. Working with the CD team, the nursery curator undertakes a complete seed and plant inventory every September to guarantee that the database remains accurate.
Cycad and palm seedlings spend three to five years under the nursery curator’s care before being incorporated into the grounds collection. The Nursery Curator works with the palm and cycad curators each Spring to make sure that plants destined for planting in the ground during that year are prepared for their permanent homes at Montgomery Botanical Center.