Over the past couple of days I've been visiting the trial grounds helping decide which new plants we'll be featuring on QVC next year. We film the best of them and our intrepid film crew of Anna, Hanif and Dave did a great job.
We filmed some of the varieties in HD and the colours looked absolutely amazing. The Ball Colegrave grounds at West Adderbury, near Banbury, looked magnificent and I was really impressed by some of their bedding plant colour combinations in their display beds.
I always enjoy walking along the trial beds, where they grow much of their range in rows, so you can compare different varieties side by side. It's not been a stunning summer so far and it was fascinating to see which plants have thrived, such as begonias, and which have struggled.
Sadly, everywhere I've been busy lizzies have been struggling, devastated by downy mildew disease which is currently untreatable. Next year, I'm going to recommend that gardeners grow begonia semperflorens instead or, for more colour and impact, the fabulous sunpatiens, which are unaffected by the disease.
At home, I spent part of last weekend cutting back my English lavenders. They always look slightly dishevelled afterwards (as I cut them back hard, to 20cm or so, all over) but it doesn't take long for the new growth to appear and they develop their wonderful silver domes in a few weeks and they'll look fantastic even through the winter.
In the greenhouse, something is eating big chunks out of my tomatoes, but they are obviously discerning as they are waiting for them to turn red! Simon Biagi reckons it could be mice or, even worse, rats! Hopefully they can't reach the higher trusses. But I'm harvesting the fruits extra early, just in case!