At our plant breeding site on the outskirts of Ipswich, the current team breed around 2.5 million plants each year! New varieties can often take 10 years to develop, so careful planning and anticipating demand, competition and trends are vital to the success of the breeding programme. Peter Freeman, our new Product Development Manager continues to ensure that the highest quality plants emerge from our nurseries.
If you’ve ever spotted an unusual new variety of a plant, it might have come from naturally-occurring cross-pollination; but it’s more likely to be the result of deliberate hybridisation. At T&M we have a long, proud - and award-winning - history of developing new varieties in our very own breeding programme.
We’re one of the few UK seed companies to run a dedicated flower breeding programme, and we specialise in unusual annual and perennial species. During his time at T&M, plant breeder Charles Valin ran the programme that successfully bred many new and exciting varieties. These include his famous Foxglove 'Illumination Pink', which won the RHS Chelsea Flower Show Plant of the Year in 2012.
Here, in no particular order, are 10 unique breakthroughs from our breeding programme - many of them world exclusives. Add them to your planting to make your garden stand out:
Strawberry 'Just Add Cream' took eight years to develop - but was well worth the effort. It tastes unlike any shop bought strawberries, has an intense perfume - and it produces up to 1kg of fruit per plant!
Shortlisted for RHS Chelsea Plant of the Year 2019, Buddleja 'Butterfly Towers' has a unique, upright habit which forms a majestic tower of mauve-purple flowers. Easy to grow and ideal for hedging and screening, it will attract bees and butterflies all summer long.
Voted Favourite Garden Cosmos as part of the RHS's annual People's Choice Competition in 2016, Cosmos bipinnatus 'Cupcakes and Saucers Mix' brings together a variety of flower forms and pastel shades. It has a unique flower shape and will bloom throughout the summer, right through to October.
Rudbeckia 'All Sorts Mixed' contains all your favourite rudbeckias in one spectacular mix, including the bestselling Rudbeckia 'Cherry Brandy'. These robust coneflowers have outstanding garden performance, and the long-lasting blooms make excellent cut flowers.
Instead of having separate petals like most cosmos, all the petals of our Cosmos 'Cupcakes' are fused into one single cup, completely changing the normally daisy-looking flower. Voted RHS garden visitors' favourite, it’s easy to grow and looks great come rain, shine or drought.
With intriguing colours, patterns, flecks and ruffles, Hellebore 'Breeder's Mix' are bred to perfection, and come in a wide range of colours, including yellows, greens, blacks, reds and apricots. Perfect for brightening up a shady area of the garden in late winter and early spring
Cosmos 'Apricot Lemonade' is the first early flowering apricot cosmos, and is our 2020 Flower of the Year. Perfect for a sunny spot, it brings a soft, airy feel to beds and borders and blooms continuously throughout summer.
The double blooms of 'Apricot Delight' have a very distinctive, beautiful fragrance. Flowering throughout summer and well into autumn, these trailing begonias are spectacular in baskets and window boxes where their perfume can be truly appreciated.
2009 saw the introduction of our successful Buddleja 'Buzz™', which won Best New Plant Variety at the following year’s Grower of the Year Award. The world’s first ‘patio buddleja’, this dwarf 'Buzz® Sky Blue' variety won’t take over your garden - but still produces tons of butterfly-attracting flowers.
Including three fantastic varieties, the long-lasting blooms of Penstemon 'Ice Cream Collection' continue well into autumn. Undemanding and easy to grow, they tolerate almost any position in the garden, regardless of rain or drought - and even resist slug damage.
Thanks to the continued success of our breeding programme, we’ve introduced more species and varieties to the British gardening public than any other mail order company in the industry. In 2019 we introduced over 60 new varieties in our seed range - our biggest ever.
In 2013 this work was acknowledged by the RHS when our plant breeder Charles Valin was awarded the Reginald Cory Memorial Cup. This prestigious award is given to encourage and reward the production of new garden hybrids. Our managing director Paul Hansord said: “We’re very proud of Charles and pleased that his work has been recognised by the RHS”.
The expertise, hard work and dedication of our innovative team means that we can bring you exciting new varieties like these year after year. We can’t wait to show you our next, new, unique plants!