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Page last updated at 15:04 GMT, Thursday, 15 April 2010 16:04 UK
Clumber Park helps conserve 90 varieties of rhubarb

Gardeners plant and taste test the rhubarb at Clumber Park

Clumber Park gardeners are helping the Royal Horticultural Society conserve the UK's endangered rhubarb varieties.

They are planting 60 more varieties to add to the 30 they already grow.

Clumber's head gardener, Chris Margrave, helped to establish the National Rhubarb Collection at Harlow Carr in Harrogate.

He said: "When [they] told us they were looking for a garden to help look after these old and endangered rhubarb varieties we jumped at the chance."

Most of the 90 rhubarb varieties at Clumber are not widely grown.

Ace of Hearts (good for small gardens)
Prince Albert (long stalks)
Timperley early (lovely flavour)
Victoria (classic allotment favourite)
Mammoth red (grows up to 1.5m (5ft) high

The self-confessed rhubarb enthusiast said it is important to keep the varieties alive as they act as a living reference library, allowing horticulturists to learn about garden plants.

"It's really satisfying to know that we're making a real practical contribution to plant conservation.

"One of the most exciting aspects of having so many is the opportunity to taste all the unusual flavours - some have hints of cherry, greengage, apple or strawberry," he said.

The garden's team aim to increase the size of their collection as well as force a few more new varieties using techniques developed in the early 19th century.

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