One of the most important activities of the Royal Horticultural Society is its plant trials. From hydrangeas to sweet peas, hardy geraniums to lettuces - plants of all kinds are compared side by side at its garden at Wisley in Surrey, just south of London, and at other gardens around the country. The best are awarded the Award of Garden Merit.
It’s a great spectacle, as well as an invaluable resource.
Now, after many years judging the flower trials, and writing about some of them in the RHS magazine The Garden, I’ve now started blogging about them regularly on the Royal Horticultural Society’s website. (My RHS New Plants blog continues.)
I’ll be covering the latest awards, which trials are at their best, the free-to-download reports published by the RHS, events at the trials and more. Be sure to take a look.
Now… readers outside Britain may think that there’s not much in it for them. How relevant can trials in England be to gardeners in Nebraska or New Zealand? Well, it’s true that some plants which thrive at Wisley may not even be hardy in Norway or Nova Scotia and plants grow differently in different conditions, of course.
But some factors are fairly universal: messy double flowered varieties are messy everywhere; varieties that flower for just two weeks when all the others flower for eight do not suddenly reform; if a plant rampages at Wisley, you can be sure there are many other places it will smother its neighbours; an annual mixture which turns out to be almost all one color won’t suddenly be harmoniously balanced when grown elsewhere. Some things about plants are just universal.
And all the work on correcting names, proving (or disproving) the point when two varieties seem identical, and describing plants so it’s easy to distinguish one from another – it’s all part of the RHS trials and will all be covered on my new Trials and Awards blog. Give it a try.