WD Smith annual pansy festival shows continued breeding advances

Essex-based WD Smith director Mike Smith said breeding has "got so much better" with uniformity and a longer selling season prominent features of the 14th annual pansy and viola trials at Meadow Croft Garden Centre.

Michael Smith with Viola Sorbet Pink Wing
Michael Smith with Viola Sorbet Pink Wing

The festival trials feature 496 different pansies and violas, split 226 viola/270 pansy.

Smith said he expects 80% of the top 10 as chosen by the public to be violas, though he said pansies were making something of a comeback.

Smith helped lead a BPOA tour to the US last month. He said the Trump-led US has similar concerns about workers and efficiency as Brexit-era Britain.

Benary is 175 years old in 2018 and Smith hopes an event in conjunction with the breeder will take place during the festival.

The BPOA has undergone a review by consultant John Hall. BPOA technical committee head Smith said his committee is working well and he would like to see more engagement across the sector to speak up for ornamentals.

Early top picks in the festival, which runs until 26 March, include:

  • Floranova Viola Bel Viso
  • Syngenta Viola Deltini 'Rose Pink'
  • Benary Viola Admire Orange Purple Wing
  • Ball Colegrave Viola Honeybee Sorbet Orange
  • Sakata Premier Range


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