Mr Fothergill's Trial Grounds

I was very pleased to receive and invitation to take part in Mr Fothergill's press day at their trial grounds just outside of Newmarket.  It was a glorious sunny day when I set out and it got cloudier and cloudier the further east I drove.
The trial gardens are on sandy, well drained soil.  You can see from this picture that there are some gaps in the rows, this is of course the point of trialling as you can see where plants have flourished or failed.  No two years in gardening are ever the same and so year on year the plants are judged on how they cope with that year's challenges.
There are towers of beans to look at,
and rows of salads.
These salads leaves are from one of the GroMats that Mr Fothergill's sell.  The mats are aimed at non-gardeners who want to grow things but may lack time/experience to fiddle about with seeds etc.  I am a well-known salad-despiser, but I thought these mats were very clever and a good idea.  I would argue that for those of us who want to grow some food but really are flower gardeners, these mats could be a quick and easy way of growing a bit of salad.  They also sell flower and vegetable GroMats.
We inspected the dahlia trials, I loved these huge orange stripy blooms.
I got distracted by this prickly poppy, Argemone playceras.  It might be (is) on my must-grow list for next year.
This is Lupin Pink Fairy, also now on that list.
The swathes of zinnias were looking fantastic.
and I might (was) slightly in awe of being on the same tour of the grounds as Bob Flowerdew, who was as generous with his knowledge and he is knowledgeable.  I kept writing down the tips he was giving, such as if you are choosing courgette plants choose a variety where the fruits stand up rather than droop down.  If you get the droopy ones the plants rot from the flower upwards.  This explained a lot about what goes wrong with my courgettes, lesson learned.
Even in the cloudy conditions the colours of the day were impressive.
This is Rudbeckia 'Cappaccino', yes it is now on the must-grow list too.
I couldn't resist stopping by these Amaranthus, a plant I have a bit of a thing about at the moment.  All these different colours of dangly bits plus the dark red foliage and flowers at the very end of the patch, were just fantastic.  I predict I will be growing more of these next year.
The day also included tomato tasting (not my forte) and scarecrow competition judging.  This is my favourite, its slightly scary to be honest.

Two new plants were officially named on the day, a new sweetpea called 'Emilia Fox' and a tomato called Red Bodyguard.  You can guess who the sweetpea is named after, the tomato name is from a book written by Ron Levin about everything you ever wanted to know about the health benefits of tomatoes, even somethings you didn't realise you wanted to know.  Watch out for those two new introductions next year.

It was a great day and we were all well looked after.  A big thank you to everyone involved.


  1. Lovely to see all the news on the trial grounds, Rudbeckia Çappucino looks great, a real wannahave. The not so scary scarecrow is so funny.


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