Most trials concentrate on a particular type of plant - usually one genus like Dahlia or Dianthus. But occasionally a whole group of similar plants from a wide variety of genera is trialled together because they have useful similarity - and this year it's the annual climbers.
These are invaluable in creating a quick feature in a new border, rapidly clothing a fence or wall, or for adding a secondary colour to a mature shrub or climbing rose.
There are one hundred and fifteen different entries covering about twenty different genera grown on wire towers and they've been fascinating. The site is perhaps a little too exposed for some of them, but many are thriving - indeed the Eccremocarpus are thriving a little too enthusiastically, they're very vigorous and the rich soil is helping create large plants.
Not many years ago Rhodochiton astrosanguineus (above) was mainly grown in pots in the cold greenhouse as it was considered impractical to grow it outside - on the trial, it thrives. In recent years more robust forms have been selected.
Of the forty Ipomoea entries, ‘Bohemian Shades', ‘Grandpa Otts' and I. lobata stand out with many of the others also impressing. ‘Heavenly Blue', however, is not showing itself off as well as we know it can and the judges described ‘Split Personality' as "ugly"!
‘Sun Bright', the yellow-leaved runner bean - yes, that's right, a yellow-leaved runner bean - has impressed me since its arrival on the scene a few years back and it's doing well on the trial too. One of the entries of the Lab Lab bean - Lablab purpureus - is also performing especially well and doing much better than the other entries of the same species.
So, although the annual Lathyrus species have been over for some time many of the other annual climbers are at their peak and well worth a look.