Thompson & Morgan Trial Field Visit

Michael Perry invited me and a group of other gardening bloggers to have a tour of the Thompson & Morgan trial field today.

Michael Perry demonstrating planting pockets

It was a great afternoon with Michael and the rest of the team absolutely lovely, welcoming and informative. After years of isolated gardening, it’s always great to meet other gardeners too, I loved hearing the other bloggers’ stories and love of the craft. A couple of inspirational youngsters there too.

I buy the bulk of my seeds from Thompson & Morgan anyway, so heading to the trial field was like arriving at the mothership. It’s split into ornamental beds and vegetable and fruit beds.


What I enjoyed about today was that the tour explained the good assets of many plants. Admittedly, lots I wouldn’t automatically be drawn to, like bold bedding. So it was good to have my opinions challenged and boundaries stretched by Michael highlighting their various assets. I learnt a lot.

For instance, Petunia ‘Night Sky’ isn’t something I would choose for my garden, but is a magnificent oddity. Every one of its flowers different. It was great to see one.


Speaking of stars. The plant that leapt out at me was Daucus carota ‘Cara’ – this was my star of the day for its structure but also light airiness and antique colouring. One for a meadow or prairie feel.


Others I really liked were Cosmos ‘Lemonade’.

This rusty Plectranthus (Lou – that’s for you!) which I believe was a star at Chelsea Flower Show too.

Amaranthus ‘Molten Fire’


I have to give credit to the plant labels too. You all know I am a fan of a good plant label and here’s why:


You see the plant. You see the name. You can easily buy it later. In those pictures above you can see a pot of moss. Genius. That Nasturtium is a corker too.

In a secret area we were shown lots of veg and some exciting new cultivars coming next year (we aren’t allowed to share photos of those yet). In the secret area was a stunning pot of parsley. Really simple, it looked like a work of art – like mini cloud pruning.

Other plants that caught my eye were Berkheya purpurea, Michael’s “purple sunflower”; Buddleya ‘Buzz Indigo’ a dark flowered dwarf variety; and a variety of Begonias, Scabious, Gerbera, annual Salvia, Rudbeckia ‘Caramel’ and Fuchsia. There’s something about modern bedding that makes me want to grow more of it. Oh, look up tree tomatoes too. Really interesting foliage.

We were shown lots of developments in hanging baskets and wall pockets for living walls. Both the baskets themselves and new plants cultivated to excel in those conditions. I loved this part of the day because I don’t often give much thought to it – clearly lots of clever people at Thompson & Morgan have for us.

As if I weren’t already spoilt by the tour and cake, we were given a generous goody bag. In it some veg seeds I will grow on my allotment plus some plants. Including a fern! Yes a fern. ┬áNot just any fern either, Blechnum ‘Volcano’ which I’ve had my beady eye on for months. Good times.

On my way out I saw a peacock too – end to a perfect day out! Thanks everyone at Thompson & Morgan for an afternoon of plant geekery.

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Jack Wallington

I'm an RHS qualified garden designer living in Clapham, London who loves growing plants and designing with them. Follow me on Twitter.

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