Many of the trials at Wisley are composed of two parts: the trial of all the varieties in contention for an Award of Garden Merit and, alongside, a demonstration and those which already hold the award. So visitors not only get to see all the newcomers but also those whose standard they have to reach. And the result is a colourful collection of intriguing varieties - and now's the time to see them. Take note of those you like ready to order for planting in the autumn.
The assessment panel has been looking over the plants since long before they started flowering, keeping their eyes open for disease problems, but now that flowering is well under way a number of the new entries have proved especially impressive.
They were impressed by the all round quality of ‘Cardiff', "good impact, good flowers and good foliage" they noted and with its good weather resistance it was proving "an excellent cut flower". ‘Wimbledon Country Girl' and ‘Primegold' were of similar quality. ‘Sabrosa' (third picture, click to enlarge) and ‘Classic Gold' (second picture, click to enlarge) were proving unusually prolific with one bulb of ‘Sabrosa' carrying 20 individual flowers and ‘Classic Gold' carrying a staggering 26 flowers on one bulb. And unlike some varieties of the hoop petticoat (bulbocodium) type ‘Classic Gold' is proving a robust garden plant.
Another of the stars ‘Patrick Hacket' (first picture, click to enlarge), they described as "outstanding, a very impressive entry with a good flower count with the flowers held well above the foliage."
This last feature, how the flowers are held in relation to the foliage, let down some of the entries. ‘Akita', ‘Andrew's Choice' ‘Blues' proved especially disappointing in this respect.
Those early visits, on the watch for diseases and other problems, produced plenty of work for the Wisley pathologists but it was mainly individual bulbs rather than whole entries which were affected. Some were damaged by this last winter's severe frosts, but basal rot, neck rot and virus were also in evidence along with eelworm. Interestingly, a few bulbs had been damaged by the hot water treatments used by bulb producers to kill eelworm. The vigilance of the assessors before the plants even bloom ensures that problems do not spread to the rest of the trial.
If you're worried about problems with your own daffodils, the RHS has some useful advice:
Basal rot, Virus, Blindness and poor flowering
And don't forget to take a look at the daffodil trial while it's at its peak.