Help Mr Fothergill’s fundraise for charity

September 6th, 2017 | News | 0 Comments

At Mr Fothergill’s we like to support as many charities as we can – so far we’ve raised over £150,000. Over the last few years, we’ve supported and fundraised for the Royal Hospital Chelsea Appeal, Greenfingers Charity, and RSPB – among others!

For these charities, in particular, we’ve have been selling sweet peas, seeds or fundraising through events. If you’ve contributed to any of these, then thank you – all of these charities need help and we are grateful to have given them the chance to assist their causes further.

We’ve recently completed a 20 mile walk, that some of our team took part in to raise money for the Greenfingers Charity. You can find out more about our walk here. In addition to this walk, we’ve set up a page for each of the charities that we support – so if you’d like to help with our fundraising efforts, you can find each of the pages below.

 

 

 

If you’re going to donate your hard earned money to a charity, it’s important that you know what your generous donations are going towards. Each of these charities supports very different causes and all of them important.

Greenfingers Charity

Greenfingers Charity is dedicated to supporting the children who use hospices around the UK, along with their families, by creating beautiful, well-designed outdoor spaces for children to enjoy with family, friends and siblings, whether through play and fun, or therapeutic rest and relaxation.  To date, Greenfingers Charity has created 51 inspiring gardens and outdoor spaces in hospices around the country and has a further waiting list of hospices that need our help now.

RSPB

RSPB are the largest nature conservation charity in the country, consistently delivering successful conservation, forging powerful new partnerships with other organisations and inspiring others to stand up and give nature the home it deserves.

Royal Chelsea Appeal Limited

The Chelsea Pensioners are the iconic faces of the UK’s veteran community. They reside at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, their 325-year-old home founded by Charles II, in the heart of London.

Thank you in advance for all the support you’ve given us and these charities over the years, we hope we can continue to help them through the sale of our seeds and fundraising. 

 

 

Year of the Rudbeckia and Cucumber Launched for Mr Fothergill’s by Sally van der Horst of Fleuroselect

August 16th, 2019 | News | 0 Comments

Mr Fothergill’s Seeds were delighted to welcome Sally van der Horst, Secretary General of Fleuroselect, as the keynote speaker at the August Open Day for the gardening press at their Kentford trial grounds, where over 2,000 seed lots are tested annually. She was delighted to be part of the Suffolk company’s launch of the plant of the year campaigns for 2020 – Rudbeckia and Cucumber.

Sally van der Horst of Fleuroselect speaking at the Mr Fothergill's Press Day 2019

Sally explained the role of Fleuroselect, who will celebrate their 50th anniversary next year, as the international organisation which represents breeders and producers of the starting material for pot and bedding plants, both seed and cuttings. Through a system of European trials, varieties are assessed for those which specifically show excellence in breeding which could then become Fleuroselect Gold Medal winners and FleuroStar winners.

Sally explained that UK companies had been at the core of Fleuroselect since its creation in the 1970’s which is a role Mr Fothergills had been pleased to continue. She commented “the youthful Mr. Fothergill’s joined Fleuroselect after they set up business and have been a proud and positive supporter ever since. They are part of the group of companies within Fleuroselect who focus on supplying the Home Garden Market. Filling and selling seed packets accounts for most of their main business and I am sure if you look at their assortment there are many wonderful varieties that have received a Fleuroselect Gold Medal.”

Sally continued to praise Mr Fothergills by saying: “Our Home Garden group has not sat still. Just over 10 years ago we got together to look at how we could talk to each other and better share ideas on a Pan-European scale. Mr. Fothergill’s has been on the organising committee for that from the start, now through our great friend and supporter, Commercial Director, Tim Jeffries.”

The Home Garden Group developed a Plant of the Year campaign to promote one crop each year in both flowers and vegetables that is suitable for Hobby Gardeners starting first with the Sunflower which was supported by a spectacular display at RHS Wisley of over 180 varieties. Not only was the trial a delight for the public, who had the opportunity to vote for their favourite, but there were visitors from breeding companies from all over Europe and even Japan paying a visit.

From displays at one successful location at Wisley, there are now displays in Ireland, France and Germany. 2019 is the year of the Nasturtium and the Carrot and we have Nasturtium trials at RHS Harlow Carr and Hyde Hall as well as the Jardins des Plantes in Paris, Ega Park in Erfurt, Teagasc, Ashtown Food Research Centre in Dublin and the spectacular Blumeninsel Mainau on Lake Constance. We look forward to similar displays in 2020 for rudbeckia and cucumbers.

Sally explained the rationale behind the campaigns “We believe that the campaign highlights the diversity in each species, and we hope that gardeners will branch out and try some of the newer varieties. We use children in the photography as we have high hopes that it will encourage them to develop and maintain pleasure in gardening. You can’t start young enough.”

Sunshine in the rain

August 16th, 2019 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Rudbeckia Display at Mr Fothergill's

This week, on a day of biblical rain, a large group of the country’s garden writers and photographers and garden radio and TV personalities gathered at the Mr Fothergill’s trial ground in Suffolk.

The idea was to see this year’s new varieties, the potential new varieties for next year and beyond and just about every single variety of flowers and veg in the Mr F range – all growing in tough conditions, with absolutely no pampering.

We stood under our new Mr F fluorescent lime green umbrellas and watched the cornflowers sag down under the onslaught from the heavens. And this is where it got interesting. Nothing, except climbers and a few tall dahlias, was supported and while the direct sown cornflowers fell right over and the annual poppies hung their dripping heads, the direct sown larkspur nearby stood tall and beautiful, in particular the lovely blue-and-white ‘Frosted Skies’. This is the sort of performance that might tempt the powers that be to add it to the range.

The dahlias also shook off the rain impressively but the beat-the-rain stars of the day were the rudbeckias. A spectacular display was the central focus of this year’s planting and, as I stood there with the rain battering on my umbrella and my feet getting muddier by the moment, one or two of them leaned a little.

But they stood firm and created such a sparkle that under the charcoal clouds they were impressive from fifty yards away. And the star of them all was ‘Prairie Sun’ (across the top in the picture) its green eye surrounded by two-tone yellow petals.

A soon as the forecast looks better, I’ll be heading back to the trials on a more comfortable day to bring you more highlights from this year’s trials. And there are some very exciting new varieties to tell you about.

Brian’s Lifetime in Horticulture is Just What the Doctor Ordered

August 15th, 2019 | News | 0 Comments

Mr Fothergill's Trials Manager Brian Talman at their August Press Day being presented with an Acer Shirasawanum Jordan by Joint Managing Directors John Fothergill and David Carey to celebrate his 60 years in horticulture

Mr Fothergill’s celebrated 60 years in horticulture for their Trials Manager Brian Talman at their August Press Day with a presentation of an Acer Shirasawanum Jordan in a premium pot with a personalised inscription. Acers are one of Brian’s favourite plants and the gift follows earlier celebrations and gifts within the company.

The company marked the occasion when the trials were looking at their best and in front of the gardening journalists of the UK. As he celebrates 60 years working in horticulture, Brian muses how his working life could have been quite different if he had not heeded the advice of a family-friend doctor. “As a Surrey teenager I passed an engineering exam in 1959 to become an apprentice, but because of my asthma the doctor said a factory environment would be bad for me and I would be better working outside”.


Brian noticed local seed company Nutting & Sons of Merstham was advertising for a trials assistant, so he applied for the post, was taken on a five-year apprenticeship, at the end of which and while still a teenager, he was appointed flower seed manager on a six-month probation. “Although I was never told the company was satisfied, I suppose it must have been because I stayed until 1983”, laughs Brian.


During that time the company moved to Cambridgeshire. In 1983 Brian was approached by Chicago-based Ball & Co and invited to set up a British trial ground, which he managed until 2002 when he decided to set up his own plant company Talman’s Plants Nursery, which in turn led to him working with Mr Fothergill’s. In the early days of this association, Brian grew all Mr Fothergill’s plants at his
own nursery because there were no facilities at the seed company’s Kentford, Suffolk, base. Through the years, Brian has supervised the development of the Kentford trial including the development of polytunnels to facilitate all germination and growing on-site.

Brian's 60th anniversary cake. It features a shovel with his name, Brian Talman, on it, with a message that says "Brian 60 years, still digging it" as well as mini seed pot decorations - all 100% edible!

Mr Fothergill’s commercial director Tim Jeffries takes up the story. “We know how fortunate we are to have Brian running our trials, which several independent experts have told me are the best of their kind in Europe. His plant knowledge and understanding and his growing skills are unparalleled. He is a key member of our specialist horticultural team”. Brian Talman is more modest. He simply says “I can honestly say I have loved every minute of the past 60 years. While every day may have its challenges, every day I work with plants is a joy”.

 

Sow in August? Well yes…

August 9th, 2019 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Cornflower (l-r) 'Classic Fantastic', 'Classic Romantic' & 'Classic Magic'

Am I mad? I’m looking at my cornflowers in full bloom and I’m going to suggest it’s time to sow seed for next year. OK, here’s the thing.

I sowed my cornflowers towards the end of March, this year, and they’re flowering well now. I should also mention that I got my ‘Black Ball’ seed from someone else, not Mr F, and half of them came up other colours. Not good. We know what the lesson is. Anyway.

Although my cornflowers are flowering nicely, the ones that did really really well are over. These are the self sown ones that sprung up last summer from seed that fell from last year’s spring sown varieties.

The plants they made were huge, multibranched, producing thousands of flowers. But they turned up in all sorts of places, including in my bark paths. I know, I could have moved the seedlings to better sites – as I’m about to with my self sown cerinthes – but I forgot.

So I’m going to sow cornflowers this month. And, thinking about posies for next summer, I’m going to sow the three varieties in the Classic Series. These are controlled colour blends in blue shades and white (‘Classic Fantastic’), in purple and lilac shades and white (‘Classic Magic’), and red and pink shades and white (‘Classic Romantic’). Colour themed posies in a packet.

Sow in rows in a sunny place this month. Draw out the drill with the point of a stick then soak the drill with water from the spout of the can. Then sow thinly. Thin the seedlings in stages to 20-25cm apart and they’ll start to flower in late spring next year. The plants will be big, so have some bamboo canes and string at the ready. And stand back and admire your achievement!

Fabulous foxgloves

August 2nd, 2019 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Digitalis 'Suttons Apricot'

I got some flack on social media last week, for my post about sowing seed to grow decorations for Christmas. Well, I apologise for any offence caused by mentioning Christmas in July! But, well, this is the time for sowing the seed. And this is also the time for sowing other seeds and, in particular, foxgloves.

In fact, it’s often suggested that we sow foxgloves in June or July but a couple of people said to me last autumn that the plants from outdoor June and July sowings grew so large by planting out time in the autumn that they didn’t establish very well.

I was surprised by this, as their fibrous roots usually hold the soil on well, but this year I’m trying sowing a little later. It will be interesting to see how big the plants are by transplanting time and how well they flower next year.

I’m going to try an old favourite this year, ‘Sutton’s Apricot’. To be honest, I sometimes doubt if “apricot” is the right word, but the one-sided spikes of flowers carry the usual foxglove flowers, hanging down slightly, in pale rose pink – perhaps with a yellowish flush – and dainty spotting in the throat.

That subtle shade – and the plants may vary very slightly in colour – are ideal at the back of the border behind English roses in pinks and creams or rich red. So why not try sowing ‘Sutton’s Apricot’ foxgloves this month?