CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Sussex Life today CLICK HERE

The Millennium Seed Bank at Wakehurst Place

PUBLISHED: 17:14 25 April 2016 | UPDATED: 17:14 25 April 2016

Millennium Seed Bank by Fluffymuppet ( via

Millennium Seed Bank by Fluffymuppet ( via


When Prince Charles opened the Millennium Seed Bank at Wakehurst, Ardingly in 2000 he described it as a “gold reserve…a place where this reserve currency, in this case life itself, is stored”.

The Millennium Seed Bank at Wakehurst is the largest ex situ plant conservation programme in the world, working with partners in 80 countries to bank seeds from the word’s wild plants, focusing on those that are most at risk and those most useful for the future. The loss of one plant species could deprive future generations of medicine for disease that is not yet even recognised. It could be the one plant capable of restoring the natural balance of a damaged habitat. It could be a super food able to grow in desert conditions and a valuable source of nutrition for people of the developing world. We can’t see the future clearly, so the Millennium Seed Bank and its partner seed banks act as an insurance against the loss of plants.

In 2007, the billionth seed was collected and presented to Gordon Brown (then Chancellor of the Exchequer) at 11 Downing Street – there are now well over two billion seeds. The Millennium Seed Bank has already secured over 13 per cent of the world’s wild plant species and by 2020 they aim to have safely stored seed from 25 per cent of the world’s bankable plants.

The seeds, which come in all shapes and sizes, require particular conditions for long-term storage, depending on the environment in which they evolved. Most can survive for hundreds of years if they are dried and then stored at -20 degrees C. Scientists in the Millennium Seed Bank not only develop protocols for the optimum storage conditions for each species, but they also investigate how to break dormancy – to wake the seed up again – so that it germinates and grows into a new plant when the time is right. The seeds of different species need different triggers to bring them into growth – variations of heat, light, water, even smoke and fire. They have already been used to regenerate areas around the world where species have been destroyed.

The Millennium Seed Bank is an integral part of the visitor experience at Wakehurst, together with the mansion and gardens. As well as providing space to store thousands of seed samples in a large, underground vault the public can view a permanent exhibition about seed conservation and observe live seed research and conservation in action in the laboratories which are visible through the glass walls. 


7 quirky wedding venues in Sussex - We have compiled a list of beautiful, quirky venues, in case you and your betrothed fancy something a little out of the ordinary for your special day. Whether you fancy being watched over by a llama in a bow tie, embracing a Hollywood theme or saying “I do” at 450 feet, you’ll find it in Sussex, says Jenny Mark-Bell


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Sussex Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Sussex Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Sussex Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & About

Yesterday, 09:49

10 of the most beautiful, inspiring and simply stunning photos of Sussex shared on Instagram over the past week...

Read more
Tue, 11:20

The skies of Sussex are sure to be lit up this November with some amazing fireworks and bonfire events taking place across the county

Read more
Tue, 11:12

Disappear into the ancient oak woodland at Arlington on this short circular stroll

Read more
Mon, 13:02

A rich local history, thriving annual festivals and a bounty of amenities make this East Sussex town hard to top

Read more
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

From pumpkins to spooky activities, we take a quick look at some events on offer across Sussex this Halloween

Read more
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Cuckfield’s Ockenden Manor offers a spectacular panorama while you eat

Read more
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

We explore Pulborough, a village with a long history and an unusual annual fundraiser

Read more
Monday, October 1, 2018

We round up some of the best events and things to do across Sussex this month

Read more
Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Whether you live in Sussex or are here for a visit, the South Downs National Park really is a must-see part of this beautiful county. As these pictures prove...

Read more
Tuesday, September 25, 2018

We pick five scenic routes across Sussex that are suitable for wheelchairs, pushbikes and buggies

Read more
Tuesday, September 18, 2018

All along the A27 there are calls for bypasses to ease congestion. But plans to deal with Arundel’s bottleneck have met with anger

Read more
Tuesday, September 18, 2018

With the South Downs, quaint villages and coastal trails, Sussex is a great place for a walk. Here we round up some of the best

Read more
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

2016 marked the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings. We take a closer look at the castles built to protect Sussex from invasion

Read more
Monday, September 10, 2018

Bearing links to some of the county’s famous smugglers, Alfriston is a small village with a lot of history – including an impressive ‘cathedral’

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Follow us on Twitter

Like us on Facebook

Local Business Directory

Property Search