Fascinating Sussex exhibition examines which of our plants will survive today's global threats

A vision of what UK gardens might need to look like in 2050 due to a changing climate is among the fascinating highlights of the latest exhibition at Wakehurst.

The Surviving or Thriving exhibition opens on Friday (March 22)
The Surviving or Thriving exhibition opens on Friday (March 22)

Entitled Surviving or Thriving, it asks the question: In a rapidly changing world, which plants will survive, and which will thrive? And what does this mean for us?

The exhibition, which opens on Friday (March 22) at the gardens in Ardingly is a retelling of the landmark State of the World’s Plants and Fungi reports produced by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and its international partners. The reports and the exhibition focus on which plants are vulnerable to global threats such as climate change, disease, and pests, and what, if anything can be done to help them.

Using objects, videos and interactive models, Surviving or Thriving showcases the most up-to-date research on new plant discoveries, innovations in genome sequencing, and the possible solutions to meet global challenges.

Highlights of the exhibition include:

• A sculptural display of five tree species and the threats they face – Each species is grown at Wakehurst, but globally they are facing challenges to their survival. The trees are made of laser cut cardboard to reduce the environmental impact of the exhibition. It includes a species from Vietnam of which there are only 21 left in the wild

• A show garden displaying some of the plants Wakehurst horticulturists have identified as best suited to a changing British climate, showing what UK gardens might need to look like in 2050

• Trafficked plant products seized by Border Force which showcase the illegal trade in plant products

• A Lego model of an Aspergillus fungi, which is used to make plastics, including some used in Lego

• An interactive touch screen display which lets visitors see inside a Cavendish banana and one of its wild relatives.

Colin Clubbe, head of conservation and senior scientist said: “It is thrilling to see this exhibition here at Wakehurst. Plants are the foundation of the world’s ecosystems and hold the potential to tackle some of our most pressing issues such as climate change and food security. I hope this exhibition will encourage the conversation about what we need to protect and conserve as we look towards the future.”