I’m writing this blog as I tuck into my favourite Mexican breakfast in a Giraffe restaurant. I’m off work all week, and as I reach Friday, I’m showing some actual signs of chilling out! I’d trussed myself up with a to do list even from Sunday. It was (and is!) list that is quite exhaustive, featuring everything from buying a sports bag to watering the houseplants.
It has been a busy few weeks, so a week to chill in the sun could’ve have come at a better time! From getting the last of the trial plants in to long days prepping for the Chelsea flower show, it has all been quite full on, but I’ve loved every moment!
So, one of my major ongoing tasks since late last year has been to organise our trials for 2015, which are excitingly being built on the Jimmy’s Farm site! Each year, Thompson & Morgan test and trial over 1,000 different plants, as we review new varieties and check existing ones are still up to scratch! We also run a whole load of technical tests, so we can prove to you the importance of buying quality compost, using a controlled release fertiliser, and so on…!
The trials job starts way back in November, as I build up a list of ideas, some are the usual petunias, fuchsias, etc, but it also insert a few crazy ideas too; hanging basket blueberries or patio streptocarpus have been some recent anomalies! But it’s these crazy ideas that sometimes pay off, and on a large scale, TomTato anyone??
Early in the year, I then co-ordinate getting all this material in, from all over the world. I then spend days in front of an excel sheet, calculating quantities, choosing containers, and so on! My Trials Manager then tells me there’s too many pots, so I just try and give one of my smiles.. Each week, I am on the trials site, checking everything’s growing well and making a general nuisance of myself!
In the background throughout the spring, our Site Manager had been preparing the site at Jimmy’s Farm too. This was a mammoth task, and involved completely gutting the site, and working from a blank canvas. But it was well worth it, and we now have a superb, large site which will soon become the Thompson & Morgan garden! By having the trials garden at the farm, we hope to appeal to a different type of customer, and get some young ‘uns into plants and gardening! Equally, our usual customers might find Jimmy’s a rather nice day out, thanks to their boutique shops and yummy restaurant! Find out more here!
Through the summer, I’ll be on site, giving tours to special parties and assessing the trials, trying to identify the next big plants for 2016 gardens. If you want a clue, think about fuchsias, and think about them in a way you probably never have before…