Prince Charles visits the largest wild seed bank in the world at Wakehurst

DM1971764a.jpg. Prince Charles visits the Millenium Seed Bank at Wakehurst. With Children from St Peter's Primary, Ardingly. Photo by Derek Martin Photography. SUS-191007-144123008
DM1971764a.jpg. Prince Charles visits the Millenium Seed Bank at Wakehurst. With Children from St Peter's Primary, Ardingly. Photo by Derek Martin Photography. SUS-191007-144123008

The Prince of Wales enjoyed a tour of the Millennium Seed Bank (MSB) to see the value and progress of work carried out at the seed bank and at Wakehurst, Kew’s wild botanic garden, in West Sussex.

In November 2000, The Prince of Wales opened the striking glass building when the aspiration was to bank 10 per cent of the world’s wild seeds by 2010. Today, it represents the largest wild seed conservation project in the world, with 2.25 billion seeds from 190 countries currently stored.

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Tony Sweeney, director of Wakehurst, said: “It was a great honour and pleasure to welcome His Royal Highness to the Millennium Seed Bank and Wakehurst today.

“We were extremely proud to show some of the amazing work being achieved by science and horticulture teams whose work in the laboratories and nurseries is being translated into the botanic gardens and woodlands around us.

“This is something we hope everyone can enjoy for years to come.”

Inside the MSB, His Royal Highness, who has been Patron of RBG Kew since 2016, visited the Surviving or Thriving exhibition, based on the State of the Worlds Plants and Fungi reports.

The Prince also visited the underground seed vault where he learnt more about the processes involved in freezing seeds and the Crop Wild Relatives project in particular.

The visit progressed outside to the nursery and propagation area, where Ed Ikin, Head of Landscape and Horticulture at Wakehurst, explained how Kew’s science and the horticulture teams work together to propagate species for the future.

Pupils from St. Peter’s Primary in Ardingly who were in the Children’s Heritage Garden at the time, were excited to see His Royal Highness as they took part in a lesson organised by Wakehurst’s Schools Programme.

The visit ended at Wakehurst’s stunning Coronation Meadow, created in response to a request by His Royal Highness for wild meadows to be planted in celebration of the 60th anniversary of The Queen’s Coronation.

As the tour concluded His Royal Highness was presented with a gift of Widdringtonia whytei, a tree is also known as the Mulanje cedar or Mulanje cypress.

It is native to Malawi and has become endangered as a result of over-harvesting and an increase of wildfires.