The festival is the only independent plant trial of its kind in the world with 500 different varieties on show from 12 different international breeders. This year sees the addition of edible pansies.
The varieties are sown and grown by parent company W.D Smith, which is based across the road from Meadow Croft. All the varieties are grown in the the same conditions as each other.
Mike Smith of W.D Smith said of the festival: "It was originally a festival we put on to promote the garden centre. We never expected it to grow as large as it has.
"International Breeders get to compare how their varieties fare in identical conditions as all the other top varieties on the market. We ask the public to vote on their favourites and the breeders take note, often improving the varieties for better growth the following year."
The Festival is also open on Mother’s Day – 15 March. The garden centre will be open to all visitors.
Festival favourite Pansies cost £2.99 each or £7.99 for three and Festival Favourite Violas at £2.50 each or six for £12.99.
Last Year’s Festival Favourites:
1. Viola Rocky Orange with Purple Wing
2. Viola Deltini Honeybee
3. Viola Sorbet Phantom
4. Viola Deltini Copperfield
5. Viola Sorbet XP Pink Halo
6. Viola Admire Orange with Purple Wing
7. Viola Sorbet Midnight Glow
8. Viola Deltini Rose Pink
9. Pansy Freefall Deep Red Botch
10. Viola Deltini Cuty
The Festival will be held from 12-22 March at Meadow Croft Garden Centre, Woodham Road, Battlesbridge, Wickford, Essex SS11 7QU