You may not have heard of Ball Colegrave, but this company, based at West Adderbury near Oxford, work hard at raising the new plants you will see in your local garden centre or nursery next year. Every summer BallColegrave open their trial grounds so that growers, buyers, press and the public can have a look at their new plant varieties and compare them to popular existing ones. Each day, visitors are encouraged to vote for their favourite plant by placing a blue flag next to it. This gives an instant picture of which plants are popular. There is a vast range of plants, such as Petunia, Calibrachoa and Begonia, which are used as bedding or in containers and hanging baskets. Research is finding perennials, such as Penstemon, Echinacea and Achillea varieties that will flower in their first year. The company are constantly on the lookout for plants that perform well regardless of the weather and which show resistance to pest or disease attack. Research into new varieties of vegetables like tomatoes and peppers can yield some surprising new shapes. A selection of the plants are kept under glass to protect them from the weather, so they can be viewed close up, even if the summer is as bad as 2012. This is important if a grower is considering which to choose. An imaginative installation of features have been constructed to allow plants to be displayed to full advantage, including vertical displays and a set of wavy bars, known as the rollercoaster, for baskets. This allows lots of plants to be put on show, while making access easy, and the use of efficient automatic watering means they stay in good condition.
This story was published on: 03/08/2013
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