What to look out for from Mr Fothergill's next year

I was very pleased to have been invited to go along to Mr Fothergill's press day, which is an annual event and one that I always look forward to.  Not only do we get treated to a guided tour of the trial grounds, we get to know all the news for what to look out for in the future.

2018 is the 40th anniversary of the founding of the company, which remains a family business.  They are entering their anniversary year in style with the announcement that they have purchased the well respected tool company, Darlac.  The purchase has come about through the retirement of the founders and owners of the company.  Darlac will remain a stand alone company but does add a new perspective to Mr Fothergill's.
I also have to mention the new Optigrow vegetable range that Mr Fothergill's is launching from January 2018.  This range is of 'pre-germinated' seeds.  Now I am not going to pretend to completely understand the science of this, but as I understand it the seeds are encouraged to start to germinate (but not in a way that you can see any change to the outside of the seed) and then redried.  Then when you start to grow them they are ready to leap into action.  The seeds apparently lead to good strong healthy plants that perform well for all their life time.  There are no chemicals involved in this process, only air and water.  I found this really interesting and I look forward to trying some of these seeds when they are available.

Here are some of the exciting things you can look forward to from Mr Fothergill's
A new sweetpea called Lady Salisbury was named by Lady Salisbury.  Lady Salisbury is herself a keen gardener and a patron of  Capel Manor College.  It is a grandiflora sweet pea and highly scented.  We were given some seeds and I am looking forward to growing it next year.  It will be in the shops to buy from January 2018.
Another new plant being named was Verbena Scentsation, This plant was discovered by BrianTalman, who works at Mr Fothergill's and can be seen here naming the plant.  He noticed a strong scent when out on the trial grounds one day and after some careful sniffing, found the plant where it was coming from.  A few years later and selected breeding has led to this marvellous plant.  We all passed the plant around and I can confirm it does have a clear lovely scent.  Apparently it will flower from June to October so that is a very good value plant.  I am looking forward to growing this next year.

We were shown where it was growing in the trial grounds and the scent greeted us even on this damp dull day.
We were told that next year is going to be the year of the marigold.  I love marigolds so being encourage to grow them is not going to be a message I will resist.  These little beauties came home with me and I am really looking forward to growing them.  Just in case you are conufsed, Johnsons is a Mr Fothergill's brand.
I always enjoy the stripes of marigolds in the trial grounds.  The day I visited it rained a lot, when I say a lot I mean torrentially.  It paused very briefly when we were out in the trial grounds and despite these conditions just look at the colour and cheerfulness these give.
Next year is also going to be the year of the pepper.  I routinely grow chillies but next year I will be growing these coloured peppers as well.  I am rather excited about this and a little anxious as I do not usually grow peppers.

After walking around the trial polytunnels I came away deciding that I needed to be more adventurous in my vegetable growing.

So this packet of little aubergines came home with me as well.  Wish me luck!
We were also introduced to the new RHS range from Mr Fothergill's.  These are all seeds that have been awarded the RHS AGM and also most of the flower range are rated as being good for pollinators.  I made sure I can home with these Convolvulus, they really caught my eye in the trial grounds and I knew I wanted to give them a try.

The trial grounds are always very inspiring.  It is like a voyage of discovery wandering up and down the rows of flowers and vegetables, looking at what is doing well and maybe not so well.  Despite the rain everything was holding up very well.
There are all sorts of flowers growing there:  annuals and perennials.  Most are grown as single types in each row, though they may be combined in seed mixes before they go on sale.  Apparently they are mixed in cement mixers, very clean cement mixers, but cement mixers none-the-less.  I loved the image this put into my mind.
The grounds are also alive with insects, as the rain paused the bees rushed out to enjoy the flowers.
The staff at Mr Fothergill's take part in various challenges through the year, this year one of the challenges was to create wildlife-friendly patches.  I loved this one with its bug hotel.
We also visited the vegetable trialling area.
This raised bed is full of the new David Domoney 'Get Growing' seed range which is aimed at people who are new to vegetable growing.  It is a collection of 56 straight-forward varieties of vegetables with jargon-free instructions and known to be good to grow.  I liked this idea that instead of the rows and rows of different varieties that will just boggle the mind of many who are tip-toeing into the world of grow your own, they can gain confidence from trying something they can see what it is and be confident that it will perform.
I was very inspired from my day at the trial grounds.  I came home with these to grow.  I do love a good yellow courgette and the pale climbing french bean is something I have discovered this year and want to grow more of.
and of course there will be poppies.

I had the most marvellous day at the Mr Fothergill's Press Day and I must thank all the team for making us all feel so welcome and sharing so much of their time and knowledge with us.


  1. I wish sweet peas didn't make me sneeze, their scent is so lovely. Yesterday, I was thinking I might try growing some poppies on my new allotment as they like disturbed ground and I'm disturbing it all over the place.

    1. You'll probably get poppies if the ground hadn't been disturbed for a while - they can lie dormant for decades

  2. Darlac tools are in my experience very good, I hope MrFothergills maintains the quality.

    1. They said they're going to run it as it is - the production isn't moving - so the quality shouldn't change

  3. Thanks for the informative post, I've always had good germination and produce from Mr Fothergill's seeds but had no idea of their history nor did I know that they are a family company and that Johnsons is part of it. So I've learnt a lot from your post and I liked your photos too, thanks again.


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