The UK industry select their winning varieties and colour themes for the 2017 season

Posted On 19 Aug 2016
By :
Comment: Off

orn_petunia_nightskyWEST ADDERBURY, UK: The Ball Colegrave Annual Summer Showcase is one of the UK’s premier trade events. With over four acres of seasonal plant displays and variety trials, set in the heart of the Oxfordshire countryside, this event attracts an audience of over 3,000 Growers, independent and multiple retailers, parks and landscapers, garden writers, plant breeders, trades associations, students and home gardeners.

This year saw a record number of visitors attend, each voting for their favourite varieties and colour schemes using a blue marker flag. With over 1300 catalogue varieties, 300 new varieties and 700 experimental products on display, there was certainly plenty to choose from!

However, the products which received the most flags once again leaned heavily towards new plant varieties and novelties, suggesting the market continues to hunger for innovative new plant products as growers and retailers look to stay one step ahead of the trend.

Here are this year’s winning varieties voted for by our 3,000 visitors:

1. NEW Petunia ‘Night Sky® ’ (pictured)

A Rising Star for Retail sales!

New to the garden market this season, Petunia NightSky® has been proved such a retail success that it has moved up the results table for blue flags from last year’s third place position to overall blue flag winner this year. Petunia Night Sky really shines in baskets and containers with the white spots on the dark violet flowers looking like an everchanging constellation in the night sky. It’s easy to see why this variety was shortlisted in May for the RHS Chelsea Show ‘Plant of the Year’ awards and has received numerous industry awards since its launch. This is simply an extraordinary breakthrough colour pattern. An absolute first for Petunia and a rising star in UK garden centres. Night Sky has a vigorous, semi-trialing habit with excellent branching and early flowering, making it a perfect plant for patio baskets and containers. Ball Colegrave recommends growing this variety in a 10.5cm to 13cm pot. Good specific cultural information is available for growers to get the verybest plant habit and flower quality. Available in a Ball 84 plug tray with high impact colour labels available.

2. NEW Argyranthemum Grandaisy® Pink Halo

Bold & Beautiful Grandaisy!

Grandaisy® Pink Halo is the latest in interspecific plant breeding, carrying super large 6cm diameter pink flowers with a striking rose-pink ring around the eye. This cutting-raised Argyranthemum is a strong, disease-free performer which blooms early, is cold and heat tolerant and therefore thrives in most climates. Plants are very free-branching and strong, making mounded bushy plants that flower abundantly throughout the Summer. Grandaisy® grows to about 45-60cm height and spread and looks spectacular as a patio plant, in balcony boxes and as a bedding plant. The plants take little care and a bound to become a consumer favourite. Pink Halo is just one of 4 striking colours in the new Grandaisy® series, which includes White, Red and Bright Yellow. This variety suits large 2-3 litre pots for premium colour sales. They benefit from a single pinch in small pots and a second pinch to produce a superior shaped plant in large pots. Available as a Ball 84 plug, weeks 8-18. A high impact colour Ball label is supplied with the plants.

3. Calla Lily Callafornia Red

Premium colour sales in June!

The recent introduction of our Callafornia range of Calla Lily last year created enormous interest with visitors, receiving 3 out of the top 10 blue flags. This year suggests the interest for this product has not changed with 4 Calla Lily in the top 10 favourite varieties. Why? It’s simple. Calla Lily (Zantedeschia hybrid) are incredibly quick and easy to grow, trouble free and with their exotic flowers have enormous retail appeal and should command a premium price. Their garden performance is outstanding, having demonstrated in our 3 years of plant trials they can tolerate a wide range of summer weather conditions, delivering great garden success for the home gardener. Plants will flower from June to September. Culture: Bulbs are potted in week 14 (early April) from a bulb into a 2 -5 litre pot, grown on at 18°C and will flower in about 11-12 weeks for June colour sales. Callafornia Red was the top voted Calla Lily. It is compact (30-50cm high) with a high bloom count with flowers opening pink to red and deepen to a true red. Available as large bulbs, supplied in packs of 25, delivered in week 13. Results of the 2016 Summer Open Day ‘Blue Flag’ Trial at Ball Colegrave to identify our visitors Favourite Variety

Position Overall Results

1 Petunia NightSky® (P) NEW

2 Calla Lily Callafornia Red NEW

3 Argyranthemum Grandaisy® Pink Halo (P) NEW

4 Begonia F1 Majestic™ Sunburst

5 Dahlia Experimental 1571 (possible future intro 2018)

6 Calla Lily Callafornia Festival NEW

7 Calla Lily Callafornia Gold Fever NEW

8 Begonia F1 Majestic™ Soft Pink

9 Calibrachoa Starlight Blue (P) NEW

10 Calla Lily Callafornia Pink Melody NEW

Position Trade Results

1 Petunia NightSky® (P) NEW

2 Argyranthemum Grandaisy® Pink Halo (P) NEW

3 Calibrachoa Starlight Blue (P) NEW

Position Consumer Results

1 Petunia NightSky® (P) NEW

2 Calla Lily Callafornia Red NEW

3 Begonia F1 Majestic™ Sunburst

The ‘Blue Flag’ survey is a measurable study that identifies sales opportunities right through the supply chain and enables Ball Colegrave customers to determine what varieties are “favourites” as visitors place a blue flag beside their favourite plant. Over 2,000 blue flags were placed this year during trade and public days.

Ball Colegrave has been conducting plant variety trials and customer open days from their Trial Grounds in West Adderbury for 52 years. Today’s Trial Grounds not only presents the companies assortment of catalogue varieties in a rich display of settings and retail ideas, but also comprehensively evaluates hundreds of new future lines before introduction. This ensures that when a product is introduced in the Ball Colegrave catalogues, our staff and visitors have seen it and know it performs under UK growing conditions! Over 50,000 Annual and Perennial plants are bedded out in the trial and display beds and in excess of 3,000 baskets and patio containers are planted up for the event. Traditionally the trial grounds were attended by parks and nurserymen. Today they are joined by an ever increasing number of garden centres looking for new plant and retail ideas.

Watch the video here

About the Author