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Rosewarne’s unique experimental past

Published: May 8, 2018

Duchy College | Duchy Rosewarne event | animals | agriculture

Behind the gates of Duchy College Rosewarne lies many surprising stories that are being brought to light during the College’s 25th anniversary year.


Before the College made itself home on the 160 acre estate in 1993, the previous owners were Rosewarne Experimental Horticulture Station, which was established in 1951.


In its heyday, the Ministry of Agriculture’s experimental station employed around 80 full time staff who worked together researching and growing crops to thrive in the South West.


Bill Herring, who retires from his role as horticulture team lead at the College this year, also worked at the experimental station as an assistant scientific officer for six years.


“The experimental station was extremely successful, there were trials of a range of vegetables, cut flowers, glass house crops and bulbs across the estate,” he explained.


“We helped develop the plants to become hardy so they would flourish in our South West climate.”


From spring there is amazing colour at Rosewarne, none more so than the multi coloured flowers of the rare St Piran anemone.


“The flowers, which Duchy now hold the breeding rights to, was spread here by the Minister of Agriculture in the 70s as part of a breeding programme. You will not find this variety anywhere else and we are hoping to have enough after this summer to be able to sell them to the public and share their beauty!”


Another impressive plant situated near the now engineering workshop, which used to be the potting shed, is a 50 year old kiwi plant.


“It’s great working on the site and seeing the land being used for such educational purposes,” Bill explained.


“It’s also lovely seeing the original buildings and plantings also surviving and thriving in their new surroundings.”


There are so many stories from the campuses past and during the next few months these will be revealed as the campus begins its 25th anniversary celebrations.


For more information on the range of courses available at Duchy College Rosewarne, there is an open evening on Thursday 17th May from 5pm until 7.30pm.

Rosewarne Experimental Horticulture Station

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