Bristol Community Plant Collection was set up as a pilot project to grow Calendula (Pot Marigold) in the first dispersed plant collection of its kind.
The aim was to involve the local community in maintaining a collection of annual plants, something never done before. Plants were grown across the city of Bristol by community groups and coordinated by Bristol Zoo Gardens.
Nine community groups were contacted to grow Calendula plants to be displayed at Bristol Zoo Gardens and also to harvest seed that could be sown the following year. During this process, the groups were trained and supported by the Garden staff at Bristol Zoo Gardens.
Nine species of Calendula were also acquired during this period which could successfully gain ‘Provisional ‘status of a National Plant Collection as only three were previously known to be grown in the UK.
The variety of groups meant that expectations and outcomes were varied. Two were unable to produce plants for display and one successfully hand pollinated a Calendula species that is not usually cultivated in this country.
The evaluation carried out before and after the process showed an increase in knowledge in Calendula and a desire to continue with the project next year. Additionally, a number of unexpected outcomes were noted in individuals and groups such as an interest in conservation, horticulture, a desire to improve their own environment and community cohesion. Emotionally, some individuals also expressed an increase in confidence and self-worth.
The impact of this project has meant that Plant Heritage that administers National Plant Collections have rewritten the application form to accommodate this new type of collection.