Posts Tagged ‘trial ground’

Brian’s patience is rewarded as bird of paradise flowers

December 20th, 2016 | News | 0 Comments

Bird of paradise - Mr Fothergills BlogDespite having been a grower for more than 50 years, our trials manager Brian Talman still enjoys a horticultural challenge. During those years he has learned the value of patience, and nowhere more so than with his experience of Strelitzia reginae, also known as bird of paradise.

Brian sowed the seed of the flamboyant South African native back in 2008, and waited for it to germinate in his greenhouse; the process took two years, but finally green shoots emerged. He has been nurturing the plants ever since, and in December 2016 he was rewarded when the first flower appeared on a 2m tall plant – six years after it first emerged.

“It has been growing in general purpose compost all that time”, explains Brian, “and it even managed to survive being frosted once, despite its tenderness. It’s great to see it flowering after all that time!”

In the wild, Strelitzia reginae is thought to be pollinated by the sunbird (Nectarinia afra), which lands on the corolla tongue or spathe, probing for nectar. The tongue opens, pollen is released on to the bird’s feet and feathers, from where it is transferred to the swollen stigma of another flower.

Gardeners who fancy a similar challenge to Brian’s can buy a packet of 10 seeds of Strelitzia reginae for £2.55 from Mr Fothergill’s.

For more information on our range of seeds you can visit the website here, or to request a catalogue please fill out the form here.

Mr Fothergill’s new weather station to provide worthwhile data on trials

August 25th, 2016 | News | 0 Comments

weather stationMr Fothergill’s has installed a state-of-the-art weather station on its Kentford, west Suffolk, trial ground, which it believes will provide a database of useful information relating to the scores of genera and species it grows every year. The station has been providing information to the company’s horticultural team since April 2016. The system measures temperature, humidity, dew-point, wind direction, speed and chill factor; it includes a barometer, a record of daily rainfall, rain rate and storm total. It also states sunrise and sunset time.

It comprises two pieces of kit – the actual physical weather station and a console connected to a computer, and with benefit of batteries in the console, data will continue to be collected even during a power-cut. The apparatus collects data at regular intervals and a database of all previous months’ weather means all aspects and their impact on the trial ground can be monitored. The plan is to build data over time to check the performance of different genera and species in different conditions.

For instance, in May 2016 temperatures ranged from -0.6ºC to 25.6ºC, and two very notable issues have already been highlighted. The first is the amount of rainfall, which for a relatively dry site has been surprising. Up until 2 August 2016 the site has received 191.6mm, of which 94.6mm fell in June, with 37.8mm falling on the 23rd alone; on 20 June the rain rate was more than 180mm per hour.

Equally remarkable are the fluctuations in temperature in July, with the lowest 8.9ºC and the highest 30.3ºC, which is also the highest so far in 2016. In July there were three nights when the temperature dipped below 10ºC, when the cucumber trial in the polytunnel clearly showed which varieties had the best cold tolerance. Overall mean temperature through the months has been recorded, with April 6.9ºC, May 12.8ºC, June 15.2ºC, and July 18.1ºC. Trial ground manager Brian Talman believes the cooler weather in late spring kept plants back for a several weeks, but, fortunately, July has put them back on track for a good display in August.

For more information on Mr Fothergill’s range, or to request a catalogue, please visit, telephone 0845 371 0518 or write to Mr Fothergill’s, Gazeley Road, Kentford, Suffolk CB8 7QB.

weather station

Chelsea Pensioners name new sweet pea Scarlet Tunic after Royal Hospital and Public Votes

August 16th, 2016 | News | 0 Comments

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Chelsea Pensioners were on hand at Mr Fothergill’s Kentford, Suffolk, trial ground in mid August 2016 to name a blend of sweet peas in red shades aimed at raising funds for the Royal Hospital Chelsea. It has been called Scarlet Tunic, after the Pensioners’ distinctive apparel, following a ballot of the residents of the Royal Hospital Chelsea and a public online vote. Mr Fothergill’s will donate 25p to the Royal Hospital Chelsea for every £2.19 packet of 20 seeds sold. It will be on sale from its own counter-top display at garden centres and other retailers nationwide from Autumn 2016.

Mr Fothergill’s supportive retailers and gardeners have already helped the company raise more than £50,000 for the Royal Hospital Chelsea through sales in 2015 and 2016 of its poppy Victoria Cross. Sweet pea Scarlet Tunic continues that backing for the veterans of the British Army. Mr Fothergill’s was recently honoured by being granted Corporate Patron status by the Hospital.

Rachael Ferguson, corporate partnerships officer at the Royal Hospital Chelsea said “We are delighted at Mr Fothergill’s continued support, which is well known among and appreciated by the Chelsea Pensioners. The backing from the company and its thousands of customers, for which we are grateful, is quite remarkable”.

Mr Fothergill’s joint-managing director David Carey commented “Our continued commitment to the Royal Hospital Chelsea is testament to the generosity and loyalty of our garden centres stockists and their customers, of whom we are proud. Their support provides tangible benefits to the men and women who have served our country”.

The Royal Hospital Chelsea was established in 1682 by Charles II to provide a safe home for military veterans ‘broken by age or war’. The Christopher Wren-designed Royal Hospital admitted its first pensioners in 1692.