HPS Bursary Reports for February 2024

Published: February 29, 2024

The Hardy Plant Society uses our Bursary fund to enable applicants to conduct research and investigation into suitable plant projects.  We have three new reports for your enjoyment on our bursary reports page. Most have beautiful photos and great detail on the locations visited and plants encountered. These reports are available to everyone as part of the charitable goals of the society, and are well worth reading.

Hannah Hall KBBS LRHannah Hall: A Cretan Odyssey: In Search of Hyacinthinae, Narcissus and Cyclamen

Join Hannah on the highs and lows of her quest to find plants growing in their natural habitat. Despite some treacherous terrain and the presence of inquisitive goats, discover how she achieves her goals.

Read A Cretan Odyssey in full here

From her report:

1. Introduction

Crete possesses a diverse flora many of which are endemic to the island. This means the island offers a unique opportunity to study a range of taxonomic groups in one location for phylogenetic analysis and morphological purposes. The primary focus of the trip was to collect the horticulturally significant but taxonomically unresolved subtribe, Hyacinthinae (family Asparagaceae, subfamily Scilloideae), which include well known species such as hyacinths and bluebells.

Additionally, we aimed to collect taxa from the Amaryllidaceae and Cyclamen (Primulaceae), to inform morphological studies and “fill the gaps” in existing phylogenies. This trip offered the chance to make valuable collections that will inform a wide range of present and future botanical studies of these taxa.

2. Aims and Objectives

  • To collect leaf material of Hyacinthinae, Amaryllidaceae and Cyclamen taxa for DNA extrac;ons to be used in phylogenetic reconstruction. This will supplement existing phylogenies and in the case of the Hyacinthinae allow delimitation of generic circumscriptions.
  • To observe the taxa of interest growing in their natural habitat to better understand their ecological interactions and niches.
  • To record accurate GPS and ecological data for the respective groups to enable species distribu;on modelling.

While the primary focus is to support the PhD research of Hannah Hall who is specialising in the evolution and taxonomy of Hyacinthinae, this fieldwork will also support the PhD research of George Ryan who is assessing evidence for climate adaptation in Cyclamen, Hyacinthinae and Amaryllidaceae based on morphological data, which will require new field collections.

Misako Kasahara KBBSMisako Kasahara: Flora study trip to Nepal

With stunning landscapes, high mountain peaks and diverse flora Misako intends to use her experiences from Nepal to inspire future planting schemes at Riverhill Gardens, Kent, where she is head gardener.

Read the full Flora Study Trip here

From the report:

This report documents a two-week trip to Kathmandu Valley and Langtang National Park in Nepal in November 2023. The trip was proposed and undertaken by the author, Misako Kasahara, who has been Head Gardener at Riverhill Himalayan Gardens since November

Riverhill Himalayan Gardens are in the grounds of Riverhill House, owned by the sixth generation of the Rogers family, situated just south of Sevenoaks, Kent. There is a historical collection of original Victorian introduction plants, and the gardens are open to
paying visitors from March to October, 5 days a week.

The main focus of the trip was a 9-day trek in Langtang National Park, but it also included a visit to National Botanical Garden of Nepal and other cultural sites in Kathmandu valley.


The author to gain better knowledge of plants in Nepal, especially in the Himalayan region, in order to include either suitable plants or inspiration into future planting schemes at Riverhill Gardens. Initiate and maintain new connections with other horticulturists, botanists and conservation specialists, both in the UK and in Nepal, in order to widen author’s and garden’s future collaboration possibilities. The author also
hopes to help other people in the industry to make connections to Nepal.

Jamie Bailey and Erin Welch KBBS LRJamie Bailey and Erin Welch: Alpes & Côte d’Azur and Liguria

This is an extensive report of Mediterranean gardens and includes a wealth of photographic material. Jamie and Erin plan to use their discoveries to inform the choice and siting of Mediterranean plants in UK gardens.

Read the full Alpes and Côte d’Azur report here

From their report:

We chose to visit the Alpes d’Azur, Côte d’Azur and Liguaria because this area of the Mediterranean has significant historical and botanical gardens, as well as a rich and diverse range of plant species from all over the world.

We have both always been interested in the connection between people and green spaces, in particular, the design of gardens and the historical context of their time. Having lived in Spain Erin has always had a special interest in the plants of mediterranean-climate regions and Jamie has always wanted the opportunity to experience gardens different to his own in order to draw comparisons and learn new, potentially drought tolerant plants to experiment with in Dartmoor.

As Gardeners we want to be able to continuously learn and develop our skills and knowledge, which is why having the opportunity to go to another country on a horticultural study tour is paramount. Here are some of the key objectives and aims of our trip:

  • To gain a deeper understanding of the history of the gardens and their importance in horticulture in their countries at the time, as well as their legacy today
  • To discuss the gardens with the relevant owner or guardian, ask questions and understand themes and history connected with them. Meeting the owners and gardeners will give us insight into the ‘on the ground’ running of the sites; the changes they’ve undergone, decision making, daily tasks and plant choices
  • To understand and recognise key design elements and formal garden styles during the 17th – 18th Century that shaped the English Victorian garden and continues
    to be adopted in British gardens today. To be able Identify these influences, contemplate and compare their horticultural origins and purpose
  • To learn new plant species will help to develop our overall understanding of plant suitibility, propagation, positioning, and garden design
  • To recognise the culture and spirituality that sets British horticulture apart from other regions of the world so we can better understand the British obsession with gardens
  • To expand our knowledge of native and naturalised plants, trees and their habitats in this particular region in the Mediterranean
  • To gain knowledge of plants that will tolerate the changing British weather conditions that we have been previously unaware of