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The Growing Road To Chelsea


The Burpee Europe and Pennard Plants teams are looking forward to their display at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in September.

As well as the theme of the forthcoming book 'Ten Tomatoes That Changed The World' by William Alexander, there will be a whole host of other vegetables on show too, including Aubergines, Chillies, Peppers, Okra and Cucumbers.

The plants for the display are being grown at Stockbridge Technology Centre at Cawood, North Yorkshire. They were started from May onwards, depending on type of container and variety. They are all looked after by Catherine Harford, the Horticultural Technician at Stockbridge. She works very hard to keep them in good shape from start to finish.

Catherine, seen in the image above with Andrew Ellis the Glasshouse Supervisor, said: "It is a satisfying part of our job to produce plants for such an esteemed event as the Chelsea Flower show. There is a sense of fulfilment in sowing the seeds and following the progress of potting the plants on, and developing them into mature show plants."

When asked about the reasoning behind the main theme of the display Simon Crawford from Burpee Europe explained: “I first became aware of Bill Alexander’s new book when he approached me for information on Burpee’s ‘Big Boy’ one of the ‘TEN’. I was able to pass on some notes from the breeder of ‘Big Boy’, Ovid Shifriss and also some testimonials from Burpee customers who first tried the variety in 1949/1950. I also provided a few suggestions for the section Bill was writing on hybridisation in tomatoes. I was immediately enthralled by the title and after a few days of turning the idea over in my mind I called Chris Smith at Pennard to suggest a Chelsea display based around the idea of ‘Ten Tomatoes that Changed the World’. Chris immediately said yes and we started to make a plan and sowing schedule. The change of dates for Chelsea from May to September make a tomato exhibit a much more achievable goal, as the crop will be easier to manage in July and August compared with March and April (for the usual Chelsea dates).”

Simon continues “Bill is a very inspirational individual who has been able to capture the ‘romance’ of the tomato (love apple) and the way the fruit has been developed in a practical way over the last 500 years. The story also illustrates what plant breeding has achieved in a very practical way through the development of what is now one of the world’s most important horticultural crops.”

Look out for future news of our journey to Chelsea!

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This story was published on: 06/08/2021

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