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Last Updated: Sunday, 14 November, 2004, 17:33 GMT
Delight over rare plant flowering
The Banksia flower
The plant was grown from seeds gathered in Australia four years ago
A rare plant which has flowered at Kew's country garden in West Sussex is thought to be one of the first of its kind in the UK to do so.

The Banksia plant has been grown from seed by horticulturists at Wakehurst Place, near Ardingly.

It was grown from seeds gathered by staff on a trip to Australia four years ago and reared in Wakehurst Place's nursery before being planted outside.

The Banksia plant is named after the pioneering botanist Joseph Banks.

Southern hemisphere

Kew conservationists David Hardman and Andy Jackson gathered the seeds in New South Wales and several of the plants have been grown by specialist gardener Tony Ovenden.

After he tended them in the nursery, they were moved into the southern hemisphere garden on Wakehurst Place's 500-acre estate.

After four years, one of them has flowered - a few months before Mr Ovenden is due to retire.

Joseph Banks accompanied Captain James Cook on his first great voyage to Australia and is credited with the introduction to the UK of well-known plants including the eucalyptus and acacia.

A Wakehurst Place spokesman said: "Outdoor flowering is most uncommon, it is down to the expertise of our horticultural team that this has happened and we think it is a first."

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