A day at the Thompson and Morgan Open Garden 2016

Hang on a minute I hear you say, didn't you go there last year?  Yes I did and I was delighted to be able to go and visit again as a guest of Thompson and Morgan.  When I received the invitation I replied saying it is one of my favourite events of the year and this is genuinely true.  The garden is based within Jimmy's Farm near Ipswich.  Whilst you do have to pay to go into the farm itself, you do not have to pay at all to go the Thompson and Morgan garden.  You walk past the shop/restaurent and the garden is up behind there.  It is before you reach the paying point.
The farm is worth a visit, there are lots of animals to see and they sell food you can give to some of the animals.
I'm pretty sure that this goat was eating for two (or three!)
and they have a meerkat enclosure.  I did not see any meerkats, I assumed they were asleep.  The farm was full of families having a great time.  As a meat-eater I think it is desperately important that we understand where our food comes from and that we care about how it is raised.  This sort of farm is vital for educating adults and children about farming and animals. Sermon over, I then went and bought sausages, lots of them.

That mission completed I then went to the Thompson and Morgan Open Garden.  We were given a tour the trial garden and Michael Perry, the Thompson and Morgan New Product Development Manager, talked us through the highlight plants of the season.
This is Michael trying to convince us that this Marigold 'Strawberry Blonde' is pink.
This is just one plant and it moves through these different shades as it ages.  Whilst there is a pinkish tinge I think stating 'pink' is pushing it (sorry Michael).

This is a tree tomato, or Tamarillo.   I have seen one of these growing before in a glasshouse, but here they were growing outside.
There are going to be sold as plug plants.
and whilst they are unlikely to fruit if grown outside I looked at this plant and its foliage and thought 'exotic border'.  I predict a purchase.
I also looked at this annual Pennisetum 'BlackJack' and thought exotic border.  It is a stunning plant when grown in a clump like this.

Michael then went on to try and convince us that this heuchera hanging basket was a 'hipster' plant.
I mused to myself as to whether calling something hipster would draw people to it or put them off (depends on the length of your beard and your topknot I guess).  I liked this more than I thought, it does have the benefit that it is perennial and evergreen.  Forget your hipsters, this is sustainable.  I am not a great hanging basket fan but I did rather like this idea.
Just to be completely contradictory, I also loved this basket full of colour.  Both baskets are sold with the plants as a mix so that they grow at the right speed and do not crowd each other out.  This one is called 'Clouds of Colour' and I liked it more than I thought I should.

This is Delphinium 'Flamenco'.
This image is quite a good representation of the colour, it is a sort of dusty darkish pink.
It has good height and I liked it a lot.
This Dahlia 'Starlight Mixed' is also rather fab.

This is Ptilotus 'Joey', which is as Australian as it sounds.
This year I attempted to grow this from seed, I failed.  Next year I shall buy one as I think it is rather wonderful.

I also loved this Ipomoea 'Cardinal Climber'
Yes I'm thinking exotic border again.  I can see I am going to have to extend this border to fit all these plants in.
This is Celosia 'Dracula', definitely heading for the exotic border and I'm thinking more living dead (zombie brains) than undead.
The garden was teaming insects.  Bees and butterflies were all around us.  It is important to remember that whilst this is a showgarden, it is also a trial garden.  The plants are planted up in June and then they perform or not in the real conditions in which they are grown. This is the Thompson and Morgan plant range warts and all, except truthfully I did not see any warts.  I saw some plants I do not like very much (Michael referred to a few as 'marmite' plants and indeed they are) but that is ok, seeing what I do not like helps me know what I like.
There is so much colour and different things to look at.
Even buckets of moss, look closer...
pretty or what?
There are fences covered in pocket pouches of flowers.  These look wonderful and apparently they are brilliant for growing vegetables in as well as they keep the slugs at bay.
There are products to view such as this rather lovely seaside-themed tool shed.
and a massive deck chair that I made no attempt to sit in, but you can if you are so inclined.
I had the most lovely time.  Seeing the plants growing gives you a much better idea of what they look like and how they perform.  It is a bit of a hike to get to if you live as far away (or further) than I do, but it was fun.

A massive thanks to Michael and the team for looking after us so well.


  1. Wow, so interesting, it must be great to have a guided tour at Thompson & Morgan. The Pennisetum 'Black Jack'and the Ptilotus 'Joey'I put on my wishlist.

    1. It was a great day. It was really interesting to hear about new plant developments and also some of the background stories to some of the plants.

  2. I love that dahlia Starlight. And the red morning glory plant. Thanks for the update on new plants and seeds.

    1. I think it's a great dahlia - I do like the spikey ones.

  3. Fab selection Alison. I've grown Heucherella 'Appalachian Falls' in a hanging basket. It lasted 3 years despite plenty of neglect from me re watering. Definitely worth a try if you'd like something that looks good all year round but can't be bothered with the faff that usually goes with a hanging basket. Bees love the flowers too. Great to see you yesterday and have a proper catch up :)

    1. It was great to catch up :). I have to say a hanging basket that will cope with neglect is a good thing :)

  4. That looked an interesting day out, nice to see some interesting upcoming plants..

    1. Thanks- yes it was interesting

    2. Apologies, I've overdone the interesting a bit. (I was tired).


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