One of the pleasant sides of my trials work is talking with the public about the RHS Plant Trials. It was only last week that I meet a couple of people who had made a bee-line to the trial field as part of a weekend in London from Cheshire. They had seen that we were trialling Dutch bulbous irises and were keen to see the selection up close.
This was the first time RHS Garden Wisley had undertaken a trial of these irises since 1948-9.
Our current plants have started to bloom and the forum are making their assessments for awarding the Award of Garden Merit. The forum is made up of nursery experts and members of the British Iris Society.
The BIS are frequent visitors to both Wisley and Hyde Hall, where they stage their spring and summer shows for the local groups of iris enthusiasts. The next event is on 29 May at Wisley in the Garden Hall (free with normal garden entrance).
The Dutch irises are the main colour on the trials field at this time with viburnums and alliums coming into their own with all this warm weather. My springtime has been spent mostly preparing new trials which are just starting to be laid out in the field. These include strawberry, dianthus and chrysanthemum material which will all feature alongside each other in bed two on the field.
The strawberry trial will be a backdrop to the displays for the Queen’s official birthday with strawberries in The Glasshouse and in our catering outlets as taste temptations.
The trial will be in both hanging baskets and grow bags, of which the hanging basket section will also be trialled at RHS Gardens Harlow Carr in Yorkshire and Rosemoor in Devon, to see how the plants perform. Hyde Hall will see the AGM winners showcased in the new Global Growth Fruit and Vegetable Garden when it is completed as part of the RHS-wide key investment projects.