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Graham Rice on Trials

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

Alpines, clematis and peas on the trials this week

Posted by Graham Rice on 29 May 2009 at 08:57 PM

Roscoea cautleyoides 'Early Form'. Image: GardenPhotos.comLots to see on the trials field at the RHS Garden at Wisley at the moment. I was judging perennials on Tuesday and took the opportunity to take a look at all the other trials on the Portsmouth Field at Wisley.

Alongside the bergenias at the bottom of the Portsmouth Field is the trial of Roscoea. Recently moved from a private area near the Alpine House, these are  hardy perennial Asian woodlanders with orchid-like flowers and one very obvious feature was apparent. Some plants were in full flower while others were just emerging.

In full flower and looking very impressive was R. cautleyoides ‘Early Form', it was the most colourful of all the plants in the trial and was not only making fat clumps but spreading at the root.Roscoea cautleyoides 'Early Form', spreading quickly. Image:

At the other extreme ‘Beesiana' and R. scillifolia were just emerging. This is actually rather a good thing, it proves that roscoeas can be colourful in late spring with other spring woodland flowers and also in summer when the spring woodlanders have faded.

At the same end of the field, though a little higher up, the trial of Clematis in the Viticella Group was romping away. These are clematis derived, at lest I part, from the late flowering C. viticella which is pruned hard in spring for a late display. Another trial newly moved from less public area, some of the plants had already romped to the tops of their 2.1m/7ft supports and now shoots wave in the air by 60cm/2ft beyond. These included ‘Royal Velours', ‘Jorma', and ‘Södertälje' which are clearly the ones to choose if need a really vigorous plant.

A friend had just been remarking that her snap peas produced so few tendrils that they had to be tied in so I took a look at the trial. It's true, some had relatively few tendrils and were not self supporting, the trials staff had used soft twine to stop them falling over. One variety, though, produced far more tendrils than any other the others and that was ‘Sugar Lace'. The interesting thing about this is that you can cook pea tendrils. You can sauté them, or cook them with mushrooms and finely chopped leeks.

Three pea varieties had already begun to flower, an indication of those which will be the first to crop and these were ‘Sugar Ann', ‘Sugar Bon and ‘Norli'.

Sempervivums on the roof of the Trials Field shelter. Image: GardenPhotos.comFinally, if you take a look at the shelter in the left hand corner as you come down the steps to the trials field - you'll see the sempervivums from the recent trial settling down well on the roof.



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