The Chartered Institute of Horticulture has announced the winner of the 2022 Aberconway Award. Megan Webb has won this year's prize for the best dissertation submitted by a student or horticulturist under the age of 30.
Megan, who studied BSc (Hons) Horticulture at Writtle University College in Essex, said: "I was both shocked and overjoyed to learn that I had received the Aberconway Award. I was so proud to hear that my dissertation, which was about a subject I am most passionate about, was to receive an award."
Megan research aimed to increase our understanding of carnivorous plants. Her dissertation looked at the morphological plasticity of Sarracenia seedlings in response to supplementary nutrients.
"My findings concluded that Sarracenia seedlings had the best growth response in regard to the control treatment (where no nutrients were added) compared to that of foliar and soil fertilisation," she explained.
"The results followed a natural ecological pattern, where plants invested in greater carnivory for larger prey intake in response to lack of nutrients. Supplementary nutrients, especially that of soil, caused plants to focus on colour, shape and pitcher number faster. Overall, offering amateur growers potential to achieve visual traits amongst seedlings more quickly. However, there is a lack of existing scientific studies surrounding the subject of carnivorous plants, thus further research needs to be undertaken to sustain the future of this particular plant group."
Megan hopes to build a career that combines research into, and the conservation of, these fascinating species. She said: "learning about the different areas of horticulture allowed me to gain experience in both written and practical aspects. My lecturers, peers and research have given me a clearer picture of what I want to do in the future."
Dr Anya Perera, Head of the School for Sustainable Environments and Design at Writtle University College, said: "We're delighted by Megan's success. Her dissertation is an excellent achievement, especially as she completed it during lockdown. Thank you to CIH for offering students this opportunity and for all the positive work you do in helping to raising the profile of horticulture."
Megan has been invited to attend the Harrogate Spring Plant Show, where she will be officially presented with the Aberconway Award at The Chartered Institute of Horticulture's AGM on Saturday 23rd April.
For more information on Writtle University College's Horticulture courses, go to writtle.ac.uk/horticulture.