A Sneaky Peek at Thompson and Morgan

The happy visiting crew + Kris Collins (front right) from Thompson & Morgan.
Picture courtesy of Michael Perry
Someone must know me very well. As an experimental kinda gardener, any invitation with the word trials in it is bound to get my attention, even if the location is many, many miles away. And so one blustery day last week I found myself at a secret location* with the pictured bunch of like minded 'online media' folk - virtual friends both old and new - at Thompson and Morgan's (T&M's) trials ground just outside Ipswich.

The site is divided into several key areas which we were taken through in turn. We'll move swiftly past the car park/admin area - leaving the remains of our coffee and cookies to one side - into the pots and hanging basket trials. Make sure you have your sunglasses to hand!

Michael Perry, our main host for the day took us through many of the plants T&M are trialling this year ready for introduction In 2015. Expect plenty of new developments in petunias, begonias, pelargoniums and New Guinea impatiens. There were also lots of climbers suitable for growing in pots, including improvements to the 'Lady Boothby' fuchsia I have already. Michael is pointing to Lady Boothby; compare it to the new introduction 'Pink Fizz' to its left.

Michael wasn't afraid to show us plants that failed their trials and thus won't be introduced next year. My inner imp was tempted to choose one of these when we were invited to place a flag in the pot of the plant we liked the most. However, my sensible head took over and I chose a dainty Euphorbia similar to the pictured one which caught my eye at the Portland Fling. Quite a few of the others went for a fab white flowered Hydrangea, which came a close second for me.

Picture courtesy of Michael Perry
Here we are hard at work in the next area - the demonstration beds designed to simulate garden borders. Again, there was a huge mixture of plants of all shapes, sizes and colours available to examine.

I was particularly struck by a mauve coloured carrot flower - I've let some of my carrots bloom and I love how they're a magnet for lots of different insects on my plot. To me, it makes sense to make them an ornamental feature in the garden.

Dahlias never went out of fashion in my book, so I also liked the look of the improved strains of bedding dahlias grown from seed. One of them looked very much like the unnamed variety of dahlia I have in one of my garden pots this year and I was pleased to see its stems are taller than the ones I have currently - sadly they're tending to get lost amongst the leaves.

Poor Kris had the job at this point of showing the potted trials of vegetables well past their best - definitely a case of 'you should have been here last week'. However, all was not lost as there were plenty of healthy looking vegetables to ogle at later.

Here's a view of the trials field looking back at the bed and potted trials areas. You can also see the greenhouses we explored to look at some of the potential developments for 2016. The fields were very muddy, so we were glad we'd been told to bring our wellies! That and a very blustery wind coming off the surrounding flat fields via the north sea showed these plants aren't mollycoddled.

Here's a shot of part of the vegetable trials field area, to prove you can take the girl away from her 52 Week Salad Challenge for the day, but you can't take the 52 Week Salad Challenge out of the girl. There were plenty of lettuces and other salad leaves on trial, including those supplied by other companies to see how they perform, as well as current T&M stalwarts alongside potential new introductions.

Back at base we had tomatoes to taste test and huge blowsy begonias to sniff test, all rounded off by a welcome round of coffee and cake plus a huge goody bag to take away. It all made for a fascinating day, so thank you Michael, Kris and everyone else at T&M who worked hard to make us welcome.

* = requiring detailed instructions on how to find it ;)

Other write-ups from the day:

  • Jane at Hoe Hoe Grow - I love her Roald Dahl analogy!
  • Claire at Plantpassion gives her flower farmer's take on the day, including that carrot flower
  • Alison at The Blackberry Garden who also thought we'd been given a golden ticket :)
  • Andy at gardenerinnit has chosen to review T&M as his blogging debut :) So do go and say hello so he'll write more blog posts as he is HG at a stonkingly good garden near here that's not usually open to the public

I'll add more as and when I find them.


  1. What a brilliant day, lucky you. When I first took over my allotment it had a whole row of beautiful carrot flowers, they were wonderful. It's interesting to see the trial vegetables being grown, I'd have enjoyed that bit most I think. CJ xx

    1. Vegetables as flowers are underrated CJ - carrots, parsnips, leeks all are bee magnets, so it's good to see them getting the spotlight at last :)

  2. It looked like a fun day Michelle! Shame we couldn't make it so it's great to see your pics!

    1. It was, but it would have been more fun with you there guys!

  3. While I was sliding up and down the pictures I overshot and found your onion rot - it will overshadow my day. The flower trial field looks very pretty.

    1. Hi Lucy, just concentrate on the flowers, not the horrors of my veg problems ;)

  4. AS I commented on Jane's blog - lucky you to have a lovely visit

    1. Indeed I am very lucky Sue and so it was nice to have a day away from life's problems :)

  5. What a great afternoon it was Michelle ! Great to relive it again - how did I miss that Euphorbia , it would have got my flag ! Thanks for putting links to other posts, I will pop over and read !

  6. It's great to see the afternoon through another blogger's eyes! I don't remember that Euphorbia either - I stuck my flag in a Limonium! Great to meet you - and I'm pleased to see you got back safely from the secret location!


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