The Cactus Patch
Volume 11       April 2008      Number 4

Millennium Seed Bank
A Letter From Bruce
by Bruce Hargreaves

February was another slow month. I repeated “The Karoo in Botswana” for the Fresno CSS on the 7th. Then we rushed back to Bakersfield to meet our grandson Michael who came with his parents who were attending a wedding. They were in and out over the weekend, but we saw little of them. The only other excitement was watching the eclipse of the moon on the 22nd. Anne returned from the Pacific isles on the 24th.

So back to Cornwall. On the 21st of July we left there on a bus to London. We saw lots of flooded countryside. We had heard about the heavy rains on the news, but we managed to stay dry our whole time in the U.K.- something of a record!

We were met at the airport by Roger and Allison Heath who knew us from Botswana. They are a retired couple who spend half a year at their house in England and the other half in France. Recently they added research in Botswana as a third half in their busy life. They have collected and photographed the plants of the Selinda Reserve, a remote area northeast of the Okavango. They hope to have a book published next year.

At any rate, they graciously hosted us at their large home south of London. The grounds include a wooded stream and large lawns full of rabbits. Because of the animals the vegetable garden is in a large “cage”. Allison showed us an unusual succulent which she found in Norway growing North of the Arctic circle. This is the sand seawort (Honkenya peploides) which can create small dunes by trapping sand in its succulent leaves. We ended the day by dining on a succulent roast duck.

Next morning we went to nearby Wakehurst, home of the Millennium Seed Bank, a division of Kew Gardens which collects seeds from all over the world and stores them for the future. Both the Heaths and I have been collecting seeds as part of this project in Botswana. The seed bank is an interesting place in that the labs are glass walled and visible to visitors from outside. They also have displays of live plants such as Echeveria crassicaudata. We were able to pick up the latest issue of their publication Samara, which featured Botswana. It was reasonable except that my photos were credited to others!

We rushed back to the airport and flew off to Boston. But more of that next month.

Millennium Seed Bank Web Site (

Heaths & Bruce with Echeveria crassicaudata

Honkenya peploides

Sea Kale

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