1. ITV Report

Safeguarding the future of rare plants

Rare plants at the secret location in east Devon. Photo: ITV Westcountry

A conservation centre has been built in east Devon to try to ensure the survival of rare plants threatened by the spread of new diseases.

From the outside it looks like any other plant nursery with seedlings growing in rows of pots and polytunnels full of varied vegetation, but the fence around the outside gives a clue as to the importance of the site.

The nursery is surrounded by a barb-wire fence. Credit: ITV Westcountry

It's a National Trust facility, designed to safeguard its own plant collections. It isn't open to the public and its location is being kept secret for security reasons.

One of the most important things about the facility are the bio-security measures when you arrive. Visitors have to carefully clean their shoes and step on special disinfectant pads to make sure they're not bringing any plant diseases in from outside.

Visitors to the site have to step on disinfectant pads. Credit: ITV Westcountry

Plants from National Trust gardens across the country are being propagated at the purpose-built 700,000 pound facility. Nursery manager Chris Trimmer and his team are working to make sure rare and unusual specimens aren't lost.

With new pest and disease threats being identified all the time, this is important work for the National Trust. Its Head of Gardens is calling this the most important plant conservation initiative for more than 60 years, and says it will have a legacy for decades to come.

Our reporter Bob Cruwys was allowed to look around: