Surviving or Thriving: An exhibition on plants and us

Surviving or Thriving: An exhibition on plants and us


Millennium Seed Bank
RH17 6TN

Date(s) - 22-March-2019 to 01-September-2020
10:00 am - 4:00 pm

Millennium Seed Bank


  • Opening 22nd March 2019 at the Millennium Seed Bank Atrium Gallery at Wakehurst
  • Based on research from Kew’s pioneering State of the World’s Plants and Fungi reports
  • Exhibition includes five monumental laser cut trees, each showcasing a specific tree species and the threats they face: including the Vietnamese cyprus, of which there are only 21 left in the wild
  • Head into the beautiful Wakehurst landscape to meet the real-life counterparts to the laser cut trees
  • Visit the 2050 show garden to see what UK gardens are projected to look like in the future


Surviving or Thriving – An exhibition on plants and us is Wakehurst’s newest exhibition. 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 22 March 2019 at Wakehurst in Ardingly, West Sussex, is a retelling of the landmark State of the World’s Plants reports produced by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and 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.
  • 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 says, “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.”