One of the centre's key roles has been to evaluate new cut-flower species and varieties for commercial production. Crops examined so far include 'German asters', trumpet antirrhinums, dahlias, lasianthus, phlox, sunflowers, ornamental brassicas and hardy foliage.
As well as plant evaluations, cultural practices are also examined - including planting times, planting densities, use of plant growth regulators etc - and the centre acts as a focal point for other related projects, such as the recent HDC-funded work carried out examining the reasons for poor establishment and lack of uniformity in crops of cut-flower stocks.
The information generated by the centre is fed into the industry via annual open days on site - the next one is planned for early September - technical information sheets and conferences.
A further recent development has been the launch of the National Cut Flower Centre website, which summarises the work the centre has done. With time, the plan is to develop the site into a knowledge hub for the UK cut-flower industry. The website can be viewed at www.thecutflowercentre.co.uk.
Date for your diary
15 August: Hardy Nursery Stock Water Day, East Malling Research, Kent.
Horticultural Development Company
For details on all HDC activity, visit www.hdc.org.uk.