Fothergill's gives sunflowers a boost with range of trials

Annual seed trials ground produces great blooms despite an unsettled growing season.

Seed supplier Mr Fothergill’s is trialling a vast range of Helianthus this year to challenge public perceptions of the single-stemmed, one-flower image of sunflowers. The firm is showing 27 varieties at its trial ground, ranging from the small patio Sunflower ‘Bashful’ to the four-metre-high Sunflower F1 ‘Kong’. The sunflowers are a highlight of the Suffolk-based company’s quality trial ground, which last week opened its doors to show the latest introductions and consumer favourites grown under natural conditions. The ground was awash with colour and showed the quality of Mr Fothergill’s seeds, despite some unfavourable growing conditions. Fothergill’s product manager Alison Mulvaney said: “Early-season weather raised concerns about how the trials site would look this year, but our transplants have been successful and a second sowing of some of the direct-sown varieties has worked really well.” Flower-seed buyer Pim Dickson said: “Anyone can grow plants in a glasshouse and have a good display. We try to show how our plants perform in natural conditions.” The firm now has to wait to hear if stock held on a sale or return basis in garden centres has performed up to expectation. This data should be known in a few weeks.

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