Sunday, 9 August 2015

The Thompson and Morgan Open Garden

Some of you may recall that I visited the Thompson and Morgan trial grounds this time last year, this year I was pleased to be invited again to take part in their press and media week but now the location has changed.  The garden is no longer housed in the secret location somewhere in the Ipswich outback, a place so secret that like Brigadoon it has now faded into the evening mist to be forgotten in time.  This year the open garden is now based at Jimmy's Farm which is definitely easier to find, and also involves the potential to buy sausages (win win).
Before heading into the gardens I did have a brief walk around the farm.  It was incredibly busy as it is the school holidays at the moment and it did make me think how good it was as a way of connecting people to understand the food that they eat (if they eat meat).  There were lots of rare breed animals but the photo that summed up this part of the day to me were these baby birds in the hand washing shed.

I was really looking forward to the visit, I have been on the trial panel for Thompson and Morgan for a few years now, trialling their plants and seeds, both old favourites and new varieties, which is something I enjoy hugely.  Going to see the living catalogue of only a fraction of their huge catalogue was something not to be missed.
The gardens make the most of the space they have been given.  There are a lot growing in containers and also some island beds.
These plants have been planted and are growing, that sounds self evident, but it does mean that you can see how they perform.  They were not popped into place the night before, they have been there some time.

Our main host for the day was Michael Perry, Thompson and Morgan's New Product Development Manager, who was looking very dapper on this fine summer's afternoon.
Michael is passionate about the products that Thompson and Morgan sell.  He made sure that we all understood that what they sell are plants designed for garden performance, not garden centre performance.  This is an important point as with mail order you do not have to consider about how a plant will look on a shelf or a trolley week after week.  You also do not have to dose them with chemicals to force them to flower early or stay small.  Some of the plants that Thompson and Morgan sell are old varieties, such as Antirrhinum 'Madame Butterfly' in the foreground of this picture, which is an old variety but too tall to sit on a shelf or trolley, but perfect for selling as a plug.
These beds were block planted and showed off the plants to great effect.  This Californian poppy 'XL Yellow' caught my eye.
as did this Zinnia elegans 'Cupids Mix'.
and this Amaranthus 'Molton Fire'.
We admired this bed of Cosmos, which had many different varieties including 'Cupcakes'.
The great colour variety of cosmos that is now available is quite amazing.  The yellow is called 'Xanthos'.
We also looked at the container planting, such as these Petunias Crazytunia Star Jubilee (not to be misread as Crazytuna...).
and admired Dianthus Tropic Butterfly, such a wonderful looking and smelling flower.
I stood in front of this Nepeta for a while and smiled at the name knowing well that my cats would not be able to leave this plant alone.
This is Michael showing us the 'dual purpose' Fuchsia Berry, which apparently is a world exclusive and bred by Thompson and Morgan.  The berries from this fuchsia are edible (as are many fuchsia berries) but they are larger than usually produced.  They are vitamin rich and can be eaten straight from the shrub or made into jam or used in salads.  They appear to be quite versatile.  The plant will flower from mid-summer through to the first frosts but it is not reliably hardy so should be grown in a pot and kept protected in a frost-free place such as a greenhouse over the winter.
One of the treats of visiting this open garden is that there are experimental plants also mixed in with those what are already for sale.  They are being trialled in the garden to see how they perform.  It is quite exciting to see plants that may make it to our gardens next year, or may not.
We were then taken to look at their compost trials as Thompson and Morgan have their own compost now for sale.  This compost is not peat-free but they believe that it performs the best to help their plants perform to their best.
After a great day I wended my way home clutching my goodie bag.  Actually it was less of a bag, more of a game of 'Double or Drop', as it was about 5 to 5 and a Friday afternoon it felt very apt to have this Crackerjack reference (for the youngsters who do not understand this, just google it).
As I was taking these photographs suddenly I had help, Esme wanted to choose the seeds she liked the best.  I have to say cats are unreliable choosers of seeds so I will leave you with my top tip to plant for next year.
Yes, not a flower, yes this could be described as a salad  leaf (those of you who know me do not faint at this point), we sampled some of this wasabi rocket and it really is rocket that tastes like wasabi.  I am definitely going to be growing it.

Thank you to Michael and the team for such an enjoyable day.  I can genuinely encourage people to visit the garden if you are down that way as it is interesting and inspiring. 

oh and yes, of course I bought some sausages.

6 comments :

  1. Completely agree about Wasabi 'Rocket' - I will be sowing some tomorrow !
    It was a very enjoyable afternoon - even though mine was devoid of sausages ! We did taste some fine begonia flowers though!

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  2. Nice write up great work

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  3. I read it as crazytuna :) Love that dianthus Tropic Butterfly. Wasabi rocket sounds good. Great write up. As always. Thanks

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  4. The pale yellow Cosmos! I had no idea!
    Looks like you had a fun day x

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  5. Good to know about Wasabi Rocket! I'll put some on my list to try next season.

    Bob Flowerdew did go on about breeding actual flavoursome fuchsia berries (apparently they tend to be insipid) a good year or so ago on GQT: looks like T&M have beaten him to it, although the challenge now must be to breed it hardy too!

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