Spring-summer customer trials update – Caroline Broome

Caroline Broome has been busy growing dahlias, petunias, fuchsias and many other plants as part of our customer trial panel. Read on for her latest update.

In an email to Thompson & Morgan’s customer trials co-ordinator, she wrote “I know I keep on about the dahlias from 2012 but they have been even better this year, and commented on by visitors to our NGS Open Day last Sunday. The only ones that need staking are the lemon yellow and the ‘Trebbiano’.

Spring-summer customer trials update - Caroline Broome

Dahlias with planting pouches in the background

The fuchsia ‘Twist and Shout’ is adorable and having just come into flower has plenty of buds on it.

Spring-summer customer trials update - Caroline Broome

Fuchsia ‘Twist and Shout’

Petunia ‘Balcon Mixed’ have shown remarkable resilience in the baking heat and heavy showers, albeit they are protected by the part shade of the pergola. As with all petunias they are sticky but using the T&M snips to deadhead avoids contact. Lovely fragrance at dusk as well.

Spring-summer customer trials update - Caroline Broome

Balcon petunias

Foxglove ‘Illumination’ have been planted out into the borders, and although still quite small are holding up well to the extreme temperatures. I tried half with tomato collars and half without, and the results speak for themselves: not a single hole in the protected ones and nibbles on all the others. All six are now collared and I have bought another 6 collars so that I can try echinacea and lobelias next year with confidence. I had given up trying to grow them as they were eaten away over successive years by slugs and snails.

Apple Bramley Seedling is romping away in its pot on the patio. It is now sending out side branches. Great to be able to grow apples if you only have a balcony or patio garden.

Clematis Flammula, the nasturtium comparison seed trial, blueberry Pink Lemonade and anemone ‘Queen Charlotte’ are putting on a spurt and photos should be forthcoming soon. Even the two rainbow orchid ‘Epipactis Sabine’ bare roots are growing now!

Peppers, grasses and tomatoes still sulking but fingers crossed they will catch up.”

Rebecca Tute
Rebecca works in the Marketing department as part of the busy web team, focusing on updating the UK news and blog pages and Thompson & Morgan’s international website. Rebecca enjoys gardening and learning about flowers and growing vegetables with her young daughter.

Katsura tree and clematis repens

Katsura tree and clematis repens – an update

Katsura tree and clematis repens

Leaves turning from green to pink

Katsura Tree

Two katsura trees 20″ tall arrived last August. I potted them up in 50% ericaceous and 50% multi-purpose compost and kept them in the shade in the greenhouse to give the roots a chance to establish.

I re-potted them at the beginning of March this year into large terracotta pots when the new foliage was green. It’s now turning to dark pink.

Katsura tree and clematis repens

Getting taller and prettier every day

These trees are getting taller and prettier – they’re now 4′ tall with heart-shaped leaves. I am keeping them in pots at the moment, so that I can move them around the garden to anywhere there is a space to fill.

There have been no pests, diseases or shrivelled leaves. The plants like semi shade or full sun.

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Katsura tree and clematis repens

Clematis repens

Clematis repens, the Twinkle Bell clematis

I have grown clematis in pots before, but these are now my favourites.

When they arrived I potted them into larger pots in multipurpose compost and vermiculite, 3″ deeper to stop clematis wilt. Once they were growing well I potted them into equal parts leaf mould, compost and vermiculite.

These plants don’t have any tendrils, so I have tied them into a frame and the flowers hang down like raindrops.

They are green in bud and open into 1″ bright yellow bell-shaped flowers. Even though they look delicate, the petals are very thick and waxy and totally different to the usual clematis.

Next year I am going to try them in hanging baskets and let the flowers just hang over the edges, I can’t wait.

Joy Gough
Joy Gough joined Thompson & Morgan’s trials team in 2011 and tests plants and seeds in her own garden in Wiltshire.

Customer trials – update from Caroline Broome

Customer trials – update from Caroline Broome

Caroline has been sending us regular updates with photos of her trial products, but as we’re a little late adding them to the blog, please note that references to planting out times may be a bit out of date. We do apologise and will add updates more promptly from now on!

May/June 2013

Cornus Winter Flame is small, but showing good colour, now in the border. We shall see!

Anemone The Governor has enormous flowers only one or two were in flower, but these have survived being in bud during the snow.

Customer trials - update from Caroline Broome

Anemone The Governor

Daffodil Carnation Flowered Collection – the strong upright blooms are self-supporting.

Customer trials - update from Caroline Broome

Daffodil Carnation Flowered

Petunia Balcon Mixed – lovely strong plants.

And the Summer 2013 digitalis Illumination plugs are far stronger and healthier than their predecessors from last Autumn 2012.

The plastic tomato collars caused a stir at our NGS Open Day, because of the amazing results they produced deterring slugs & snails from our ligularia. And the good old tree lilies from trials 4 yrs ago are over 6ft tall!

Customer trials - update from Caroline Broome

Tomato auto-waterers used as a slug deterrent

We were on the BBC1 The One Show Tuesday 18th June 7pm as part of their NGS Festival Weekend feature.

Rebecca Tute
Rebecca works in the Marketing department as part of the busy web team, focusing on updating the UK news and blog pages and Thompson & Morgan’s international website. Rebecca enjoys gardening and learning about flowers and growing vegetables with her young daughter.

Customer trials – update from Joy Gough

We recently introduced you to some of the members of our customer trials team, who are busy working away in their gardens growing the seeds and plants we sent them earlier in the year. We’ve had a few updates and thought it was high time we shared them with you.

Joy Gough – 11th June 2013

Well, the summer finally got here. There are tomato Gardener’s Delight and cucumber Zeina (a mini one) in the greenhouse, which all look healthy, but have not put on the growth they normally do – it’s been too cold. I sowed 8 seeds of Zeina and all of them came up – I know have 3″ cucumbers growing. My tomato Alicante plants are 18″ tall and flowering.

Customer trials - update from Joy Gough

Tomatoes doing well

Customer trials - update from Joy Gough

Mini cucumber Zeina

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Lettuces on the other hand were grown in the greenhouse and waited and waited to be planted out, so instead we have been eating them straight from the greenhouse. Little Gem was the first of the season and what a difference in taste – I will put some outside in the veg plot. They’re slug resistant too!

Customer trials - update from Joy Gough

Slug-free lettuce

Spring onions, beetroot, sweetcorn, carrots and parsnips are all starting to move. In fact, all the sweetcorn Butterscotch seeds I planted came up – I’ve grown these before and friends always ask for some. I plant these in a block, rather than rows, as it helps pollination.

Customer trials - update from Joy Gough

Sweetcorn Butterscotch

The sprouts that were started off in the greenhouse will be planted out, but they need to be netted away from pigeons and cabbage white butterflies.

The plants from T&M are now either all planted in the garden or in hanging baskets… or any other container I can reuse! Geraniums have been flowering for two weeks now all on their own, waiting for the other plants to flower. The geranium Best Red are last year’s plants that I overwintered in the greenhouse and were the first to flower.

Customer trials - update from Joy Gough

Geranium ‘Best Red’

Rebecca Tute
Rebecca works in the Marketing department as part of the busy web team, focusing on updating the UK news and blog pages and Thompson & Morgan’s international website. Rebecca enjoys gardening and learning about flowers and growing vegetables with her young daughter.

Customer Trial Member Profile – Steve Woodward

You may already be familiar with Steve Woodward’s previous posts on our blog. He is also a member of our customer trial panel, here is his profile…

Customer trial panel member profile - Steve Woodward

Collecting some produce for a warming stew

Hi, I am Steve and I live in the East Midlands Derbyshire town of Ilkeston, roughly equal in distance between the cities of Nottingham and Derby, which can make it very interesting when they play each other in the league!

I have just about completed my second garden, the first one was started when I bought a house after getting married in 1977. It was a very long thin area of back garden with a small front garden, both areas were very untidy as the previous occupants were not interested in gardening at all. The front was simple to sort with a slabbed centre bordered by various shrubs such as hostas and peonies with one small tree of prunus amanogawa, the tall narrow Japanese flowering cherry. This always looks spectacular from late April to late May when it’s full of beautiful pink blossom.

The back garden was split in to 3 areas, the first being a lawn area with perennial flower borders, which led on to a fruit garden, then a greenhouse and finally a decent sized vegetable garden. Then we moved!

Customer trial panel member profile - Steve Woodward

The new house as it was

We decided to move around 10 years ago and bought a house only about 2 miles away. It had belonged to an elderly lady who had the gardens made by relatives for low maintenance – a couple of slabbed areas and membrane with pebbles over it covering the rest. This was brilliant for me, a blank canvas! And from then up until now I have been gradually filling it with various favourite perennials – hostas, ferns and a few of the more jungly exotic plants that I have a passion for. I started off with a 6’ x 6’ greenhouse to use for tomatoes and cucumbers, then at a later date for a special birthday family chipped in to buy another 6’ x 6’ greenhouse. I took the back off one and the front off the other, joined them together to make one 12’ x 6’ greenhouse and used the spare aluminium parts and glass to make a large cold frame, bonus! I also have a love of chilli varieties, which I grow each year in the greenhouse.

Customer trial panel member profile - Steve Woodward

And as it is now

Customer trial panel member profile - Steve Woodward

Selection of chillis from last year

As specimen plants dotted around I have a few trachycarpus palms, I have tried a few palms but find this to be the only truly hardy palm in the UK (for my area anyway). A few bamboos, olive and bay trees, 4 types of gunnera, musa basjoo a couple of variegated fatsia japonicas, a fig tree and a good collection of acers.

For around 15 years now I have cultivated a variety of vegetables in a full sized allotment. This is fortunately only across the road from where I work as a warehouse manager, which means on the rare occasion when we have had a really hot dry spell I can pop over the road and give everything a good watering. Plus It was very easy to take spare pallets over to make my compost heap and it also makes an ideal space for comparing new veg varieties along side regular marker types to assess the results for the Thompson & Morgan trials.

Customer trial panel member profile - Steve Woodward

A compost bin made of old pallets

I have taken and passed the RHS level II exam in Horticulture and passed a course in herbalism. I also co-run the Garden Friends online gardening forum. Peter Seabrook has been a great inspiration. I am a definite sun lover and am at home sitting in the garden on a warm sunny day with a cup of tea and a gardening crossword, could just do with a few more of those sunny days!

Just a follow up to one of last years trials…

Here is a picture of the patio rhubarb crowns that were sent out to test as patio plants. It is pictured in one of your patio bags showing the succulent red stems that anyone without a garden or someone with a balcony at flats even could grow and get one of their daily 5.

Customer Trial Member Profile - Steve Woodward

Patio rhubarb

Rebecca Tute
Rebecca works in the Marketing department as part of the busy web team, focusing on updating the UK news and blog pages and Thompson & Morgan’s international website. Rebecca enjoys gardening and learning about flowers and growing vegetables with her young daughter.

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