Fleuroselect is the across-Europe organisation that grows new seed-raised flowers in eleven countries, compares them with existing similar varieties and gives Gold Medals to those that really are better than what’s already around.
The Mr Fothergill’s trial ground in Suffolk is one of two British sites where trials are held and I’ve looked them over twice this year and picked out the most promising. None of them have yet been given names.
My first visit was on a scorching day and the second was in a downpour, so I got see them in both extremes and there were three that really stood out.
First, one that I admired but didn’t really like. It was a short wild-looking, space alien sunflower in a pretty pale yellow with flowers that – well, you can see above.
One that I did like was a dwarf perovskia (now reclassified as a Salvia – don’t ask!). It was half the height of ‘Blue Steel’ growing alongside, with growth that was more dense and spikes on which the flowers were more tightly packed.
There was also a green-flowered echinacea (above) which I did like. I’ve grown ‘Green Twister’, with green petals tipped in purple, for a few years now but this one was completely green. The flowers were also smaller than those of ‘Green Twister’ which are sometimes too large to be elegant.
Finally, the pick of them all was a seed-raised form of Sedum spectabile (above). At first I wondered why anyone would want to grow this plant from seed, but there are growers who like to raise all their plants from seed so I suppose it fits into their programme.
Tight, extraordinarily compact, very prolific, early flowering on very short stems, the new flowers were a little slow to overtop the older ones and many of us will prefer one of the increasing number of varieties raised from cuttings, rather than seed. But it’s certainly impressive.
The echinacea, I’ll definitely be growing – when it finally comes on the market. And perhaps it will be awarded a Gold Medal?