Review: Thompson & Morgan’s Floral Fantasia

…and some vegetables I’m excited to grow!

The other week I was fortunate enough to be invited to Thompson & Morgan’s Floral Fantasia show at RHS Hyde Hall.

As someone who adores getting lost in a garden this seemed like the perfect way to spend a day, and oh my, this was a display to swoon over.

Impressive as it was, I think it was even more eye-popping considering the extreme heat we’ve been experiencing recently.

I’m trying really hard not to keep going on about the weather, but in my garden flowers are frequently frazzled, their buds burnt to a crisp before the day is out. And yet at Floral Fantasia – a display of Thompson & Morgan’s summer bedding range – everything looked INCREDIBLE.

In truth, when I hear the phrase ‘bedding plants’ I think of my nan, but I think this is something I’ve misjudged – a bit like gladioli. (Turns out I like them now, who knew?).

 

There are roughly 14,000 plants in the display, crammed into beds, pots and hanging baskets – meaning everywhere you look there’s something else you must have in your garden if you don’t already. (No matter how often I tell myself I don’t need any more plants this is obviously nonsense because I wanted them all.)

Being a #dahliaaddict I headed straight to check out those attention-seeking blooms, but there were flowers for both the more traditional gardener and anyone wanting to inject a crazy riot of colour into their garden.

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Cosmos danced down the side, the apricot foxgloves sang a song of summer and the zinnias put on their best frocks to join the party. Heaven.

 

I was also really excited to see the show-stopping sunflower ‘Sunbelievable Brown Eyed Girl’. It doesn’t go to seed (my mind is still blown) and in their tests one plant produced over 1000 flowers last year, flowering right until the first frosts. Pretty good bang for your buck as far as sunflowers go!

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As much as I could have sang Van Morrison to the sunflowers all afternoon (I just can’t help myself) – it was the new edibles I was most excited to find out about. Yes, I like pretty things, but I absolutely love food more!

So we met with Colin, Thompson & Morgan’s veg expert, to find out about their new range. Without further ado, here are the top five new vegetables I’m most excited to grow:

1) ‘Beet Morello’

My number one without a doubt. I love beetroot, but I especially love ‘eat all’ plants – and think they’re the perfect way to grow things if you’re gardening in a small space. The tops are a beautiful deep purple which will look stunning in stir fries, and the beet itself should mature in 12 weeks with none of the woodiness that beetroot is sometimes prone to. Plus, they’re recommended for container growing – meaning you can squeeze them into the smallest of spaces. My favourite way of eating them as described by Colin was ‘wash, slice, munch’ – no need to even cook, so great for salads. Just got to hope I remember to wash them…

2) ‘Herb Parsley Hamburg Arat’

Like me, you might be thinking, eh? Well it’s another ‘eat all’ variety. The parsley flavoured leaves can be used as a herb or added to salads, while the roots (which look like cute little parsnips) will go well in a mash apparently. Oh and for extra bonus points, it’s winter hardy too. One I’m really keen to try.

3) ‘Tomato Red Profusion’

If you love growing tumbling tomatoes for hanging baskets, but end up finding the greenhouse becomes a battleground with everything fighting for space at the start of the year (speaking from experience!), then this could be one for the list. It’s a 360degree tomato, so one plant will fill a basket and produce fruit all around the plant. See you later tumbling toms…

 

4) ‘Climbing French Bean Sunshine’

If you follow me on IG, you’ll know I’m a sucker for a bean. And yellow beans are not currently on my growing list. These ones were a lovely pale yellow colour, and even better, are stringless – definitely going on the bean list for next year. (Yes, I have such a thing. You mean you don’t have a bean list?).

5) This is a tough one. Probably ‘Cabbage Collards Champion’ because the leaves can be used as a crispy seaweed in Chinese recipes, and who doesn’t love seaweed? It’s a non-hearting cabbage (but it still has feelings, OK?) which is grown just for its leaves. I was also tempted to pick ‘Radish Diana’ which are a lovely combination of purple blending into white, but I think I have a radish addiction I should seek help for. (Also, are you aware that I’ve secretly snuck two vegetables in the place of one? Ingenious Rachel, no-one will spot that).

All in all, it was such a fab day which, dare I say it, got me excited about planning for next season already. If you can, I’d definitely recommend getting lost in a sea of colour and popping along to RHS Hyde Hall where Floral Fantasia is running until September 30th.

 


Hope you’re all well,
Rach x

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