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The largest Wollemi Pine ever seen outside Australia is at the centre piece of a display in the Great Marquee at the 2007 Chelsea Flower Show.

Described by BBC TV presenter Diarmuid Gavin as ‘The garden I am most interested in seeing’, the Wollemi Pine exhibit looks like being one of the most talked about displays in years.

Entitled ‘From Gorge to Garden – Back from the Edge’, the display by Kernock Park Plants tells the incredible story of a remarkable plant which has existed on earth since the time of dinosaurs, but was only discovered in 1994 in a remote gorge in Australia’s Blue Mountains.

“There are less than 100 wild mature Wollemi Pine trees left on earth and so this really is a plant on the edge of extinction”, said garden writer and broadcaster Tony Russell. “The Chelsea display will show how through a worldwide conservation project young Wollemi Pines are now being propagated and made available to gardeners”.

Remarkably, this ancient tree is ideally suited for growing in the UK. It is hardy and can be grown in a pot as a patio plant, on a window sill as a house plant, or as a bigger tree in the garden.

At more than 4 metres tall it will be surrounded, in a Jurassic forest-style setting, by smaller Wollemi Pines and other plants which also existed 200 million years ago including Cycas revoluta, Cyathea cooperi, Pseudopanax crassifolius, Dicksonia Antarctica, Polystichum munitum and other primitive ferns.

Providing the backdrop to the exhibit is a representation of a Jurassic sandstone rock outcrop - similar to that found in the Australian Blue Mountains Wollemi National Park - the home of the last few remaining Wollemi Pines in the wild.

Tony Russell

Posted: 21 April 2007

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