THE Ingleborough Estate in Clapham is hoping to be recognised by a leading garden plant conservation and research charity with the planting of a type of rhododendron, originally introduced into the country by Reginald Farrer and adding to its already extensive collection of the evergreen shrub, mostly native to eastern Asia and the Himalayan region.

Farrer, who died in 1920 aged 40, was a traveller, plant collector, plantsman and writer. His family lived at Ingleborough Hall and owned the extensive estate. He made many trips abroad hunting for plants to bring home, including Rhododendron Mallotum which he introduced to the UK in 1919 - collected on his final ever expedition in Upper Burma in the year before he died.

Farrer was accompanied on his final trip by Euan Cox, whose father owned Glendoick House and estate in Scotland, now well known for its own rhododendrons and plant collecting history.

The 1919 expedition was a considerable success; several important new plant introductions were made including mallotum. Cox returned to Britain leaving Farrer in Burma to carry on the expedition into the following spring. But, during the winter Farrer fell ill and died, before he was able to return home.

Cox had to sort out and distribute the collections they had made together and later published the first of his many horticultural books Farrer's Last Journey, recounting the story of the expedition.

In the book, Cox wrote about rhododendron mallotum, describing the hardy nature of the plant with flowers of the 'deepest and most luminous scarlet imaginable'.

The first mallotum has now been planted along the estate's nature trail which takes visitors to Ingleborough Cave and onto Ingleborough, as part of the Reginald Farrer: Rhododendrons of Ingleborough collection.

Andrew Jarman, managing director of the visitor attraction, said it was hoped that the estate's collection of rhododendrons would eventually gain national collection status from Plant Heritage, which aims to conserve the diversity of garden plants.

"The collection has important historical and geological relevance as it was started by Reginald Farrer, in fact there are a number of county and national champions in there," he said.

Rhododendrons come into flower at different times and the first are starting to come out now. The trail is open every day. Adults pay£2.50 and children £1 to use the trail, which goes towards its upkeep. A new walking guide features four circular routes, all starting from the trail.

Artist, Annie Farrer is holding a North Yorkshire Open Studio event at The Old Sawmill, Ingleborough Estate, over two weekends - June 3 and 4, and June 10 and 11.

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