Plants on trial – a sneaky peak

I have always been a fan of over the top, in your face bedding displays and every year I plant out hundreds of plants in beds, pots and baskets. Over the last few years, due to work commitments, I have been finding the up keep a bit difficult.


Alstroemeria ‘Planet Mix’

Last year I planted Alstroemeria ‘Planet Mix’ in one of the beds. They gave a great show last year and have been in flower since May this year. Each week I can easily cut 20 stems of flowers without harming the display. Gaillardia ‘Arizona Sun’ has also come back bigger and better this year. I just love the combination of red and yellow in the flowers.


Gaillardia ‘Arizona Sun’

Early this year I converted another two beds to display perennial plants. Considering it’s only the first summer after planting I am really surprised at how mature it all looks. I have used cottage garden plants along with Penstemon ‘Wedding Bells’ and Foxglove which were both sent as trial plants last year. The spotty markings in the foxglove are just fab!



Begonias have to be my favourite plant. I am so glad that Thompson & Morgan are reviving these plants as they truly are amazing. Glowing Embers, Peardrop and Giant Picotee have all started to flower. A few years ago I trialled a trailing fragrant variety of begonia. I still have some of these tubers left and this year I have planted them in a window box under the kitchen window. The sweet scent is lovely in the warm muggy evenings we have been having.


Another favourite are petunias. I just love how T&M find new amazing colour combos in the flowers each year.  I have  planted Black Cherry in my Begonia Apricot Shades baskets. I am hoping the black of the flower will contrast well with the citrus colours of the begonias. The scent of petunias is just intoxicating too. The dark varieties seem to have the strongest. I wish someone could capture this and put it into a candle.


I do not plant as many containers for the winter season, so once all the plants had finished I would empty the compost into the large tonne bags you can get from the builders. This year as I have drastically reduced the amount of summer containers I have planted I still have a full tonne bag of compost left. Not knowing what to do with it I decided to plant veg in it. I think I have gone a bit over the top by planting tomatoes, chillies, aubergines, sweet corn, marrow and cucumbers in it. I have also planted climbing beans around the edge. The idea being they will trail and cover the sides.


So far everything is growing superbly. I have already harvested tomatoes, cucumber and chillies. The sweetcorn is almost 5 foot tall! In separate planters I have peas almost ready to pick and the tomato also has fruit setting.

Well, I must get back to the watering. I hope to update you all on the garden very soon!

Bijal Mistry
As a member of Thompson & Morgan’s customer trial panel, Bijal Mistry tests plants, bulbs and seeds in his own garden on the outskirts of Manchester. He has won several awards and is happiest tending to his garden, especially the begonias and poinsettias!

Petunias – customer trial panel update

I love petunias but with last year’s awful weather I was reluctant to grow them this year – I did not want to have another year of soggy flowers.

As usual when the T&M plants catalogue came in spring there were so many new and unusual petunias I just could not resist giving them another chance this year. And with all the sunny weather we have had recently I am so glad I did. They have gone from being bushy green leaved plants to being completely covered in flowers.

My favorites so far are the Crazytunias – ‘Wedgwood’, ‘Strawberry Cheesecake’, ‘Banoffee Pie’ and ‘Sophistica Bicolour’. It’s just amazing how Mother Nature can come up with such amazing colour combinations!

Petunia ‘Black Cherry’ is such an amazing colour, almost black! I am already thinking of plants I can combine with it for next year. And am also hoping it is still around at Halloween this year as it will make a spooky addition to the decorations!

Petunias - customer trial panel update

Petunia ‘Black Cherry’

The other reason I love petunias is their scent. They have such an spicy exotic fragrance I don’t know why more fuss isn’t made over them. I wish someone could capture this scent in a candle as I would certainly buy it.

I find the best varieties for scent are Petunia ‘Tidal Wave’ and also the ‘Tumbelina’ range which have lovely double flowers as well as strong perfume. This year I have managed to find 16 different varieties of ‘Tumbelina’ and as a result had to invest in a new hanging basket stand to hang them all from. It’s still early but the stand is already looking good!

Mesembryanthemums love the sun and the flowers are so jewel like. The leaves of these plants are so unusual too. They look like they have ice crystals all over them.

Petunias - customer trial panel update


I am a huge fan of exotic plants and this year I have grown schizanthus ‘Dwarf Bouquet Mixed’ from seed. The flowers are really unusual and look like mini orchids.

Petunias - customer trial panel update


Also earlier this year I came across some caladium bulbs at a flower show. I have seen these plants in America but never in the UK. They were potted into pots and kept in the conservatory. The leaves are like stained glass windows and are so paper thin you can almost see through them. They are so fast growing which is really surprising, considering how little chlorophyll is actually in the leaf. I am searching everywhere for more varieties. If anyone out there knows where I can get some from please let me know!

Petunias - customer trial panel update


Well that’s all for now. Need to get back outside and continue watering!

Bijal Mistry
As a member of Thompson & Morgan’s customer trial panel, Bijal Mistry tests plants, bulbs and seeds in his own garden on the outskirts of Manchester. He has won several awards and is happiest tending to his garden, especially the begonias and poinsettias!

Pin It on Pinterest