A label with minimal detail next to this shrub – near the Victoria Gate at Kew – a dense, prickly plant, chest high, abundantly berried with small, bright ruby lozenges. Berberis is a group of about 450 evergreen and deciduous plants from all parts of the northern hemisphere, Africa and South America. And this one is? It is deciduous, with persistent red fruit…

I know that the reference at the top left of the label refers to the party who collected the specimen (seed for example) and the number 1347 makes this the 1,347th specimen they have collected. Even if this had been distributed to several places across the globe, they would all have the same reference, SICH 1347, whatever became of them.

Who is SICH? – he/she/they collected specimens of  other plants which have a home at Kew – other SICH numbers are recorded on t’internet.  I’ll try and find out more (when I next visit Kew maybe) but for the moment, beautiful and striking though it is, ‘Berberis’ alone it remains.

By the way, the Orchid Festival runs 8th February to 9th March 2014. It promises to be even more spectacular than before!