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Graham Rice on Trials

Updates on trials and awards from the Royal Horticultural Society by Graham Rice

Crocus vote

Posted by Graham Rice on 14 Mar 2009 at 01:53 PM

Crocus 'Jeanne d'Arc'. Image: ©GardenPhotos.comAs the mild weather brings the crocus season to a close, I can bring you the results of the visitors' vote for their favourite in the Wisley crocus trial. For a couple of years the trial was grown in the Alpine Department where there is, unfortunately, limited access for visitors. So, for its final year, it was replanted on the trials field where visitors could take a look at any time.

To be honest, I was disappointed at the number of votes cast - this is such a great opportunity for visitors to have their say it was a shame that more didn't make the most of it.

And then, after all that, it turned out that the top two in the voting were rather problematical choices. Top in the voting came the pure white ‘Jeanne d'Arc'. As some of the visitors described it in their comments: "A beautiful strong-looking white. Lovely!", "Stunning" and "Not only looks great but the bees loved this one the best which adds to the interest and beauty".

The problem was that Dutch Hybrids like ‘Jeanne d'Arc' were not supposed to have been included in the trial - it was supposed to have been restricted to species! I'm sure the visitors' vote will be kept in mind when all the Dutch Hybrid crocus are trialled side-by-side but this time it's unlikely to get an award as it wasn't compared with similar types.

Crocus 'Margot'. Image: ©GardenPhotos.comAnd although the second in the voting, the lovely bicoloured purple ‘Margot', has been known for almost a hundred years it's now so rare that, according to the RHS Plant Finder, no nurseries sell it! And that's a shame as visitors found it especially appealing - "Lovely double colours", "Lovely colour" and "Nice contrast of purples". It was one of my favourites too. The third in the voting, ‘Little Amber' (rich amber yellow, with brown tiger-stripes on the outside petals), also goes unlisted by nurseries.

But this illustrates another great virtue of these trials. When neglected varieties like ‘Margot' and ‘Little Amber' perform so well and are so appreciated by visitors - it's a great encouragement for nurseries to list them.

Bulb nurseries: please let me know if you're adding these two varieties to your catalogues.



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