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Improving Plants for Gardeners
By: Steve Ott
Forty three experts are speaking or presenting papers at the inaugural International Trials Conference to be held at RHS Garden Wisley. Speakers from as far away as New Zealand and the USA and as close as the UK, Germany and Finland will be speaking, discussing and even debating the role and future of plant trials.
The organisers hope that this ground-breaking event will help to ensure that all gardeners can buy great plants which have been bred and trialled and have therefore a stamp of good quality such as the Award of Garden Merit (AGM) from the RHS.
They believe that the exchange of knowledge this conference will encourage will enable those involved in plant breeding and trials to share best practice and ensure that new plants are rigorously trialled. Plant breeding and trialling is a global business worth billions of pounds and like all product development or research has a cost to those undertaking the activity. This conference will look at future challenges and what needs to be done differently to ensure gardeners have access to good plants and the variety of choice to which they have become accustomed.
Although aimed at those closely involved in plant breeding, trialling and retailing there will be quite a few areas of interest for keen gardeners such as the debate on hardiness, horticultural responsibility, growing media and award systems.
“We hope that gardeners who are interested in how plants are developed and then, in turn, selected because of certain qualities will attend the conference,” says Jim Gardener, RHS Director of Horticulture. “This is a unique gathering of key plant breeders, plant trialling organisations and members of the global trade and promises to be extremely interesting. It is the ideal opportunity for gardening enthusiasts to talk to some of the industry’s leaders and influencers.”
Subjects covered are varied and will look at issues such as the future of trials, the conflicts and challenges of trialling plants, and the market place versus horticultural responsibility. Speakers include Marco Hoffman, the acclaimed taxonomist from the Netherlands; Fergus Garrett, the Head Gardener of Great Dixter and Allan Armitage, Horticultural Professor at the University of Georgia, USA.
The cost to day visitors is £150 and includes refreshments and lunch. The conference starts on the 4th July.
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