Recap of the event:

Calendula trials and pollinator research at the International Home Garden Conference

How important is it to help consumers with pollinator-friendly gardening? This, and much more, was discussed at yesterday’s virtual International Home Garden Conference. The event was hosted by Fleuroselect, who named the calendula the plant of the year 2021. The event looked back on this year’s calendula trials, and discussed research on the importance of pollinator-friendly gardening.

Sally van der Horst, Secretary General Fleuroselect  

“Rains flooded the trial site”
As mentioned, the 2021 plant of the year was awarded to the calendula. Therefore, this year several trial sites were dedicated to this flower. Mr. Fothergill’s Seeds, for example, recently had a section dedicated to the Fleuroselect calendula trials, and they showed the results of their colorful blooms.

Ian Cross and Dave Carey of Mr. Fothergill’s Seeds  

Ian Cross and Dave Carey of Mr. Fothergill’s Seeds share that they were able to make their trials bloom beautifully, but had to go through many challenges. Because of the cold weather, everything was growing much later that it was supposed to. In addition, the unusually heavy rains in the UK even flooded their trial site this year. Still, they were able to grow some bright calendulas, and many more varieties. For 2022, Mr. Fothergill’s Seeds will be supporting Selecta’s new plant of the year as well, the poppy.

“Good news: we can do something”
Professor Dave Goulson, Professor of Biology at the University of Sussex, then shared some of his findings on pollinator-friendly gardening. Goulson said that gardening isn’t necessarily a green activity, as there are many ways to make it harmful for insects. Even some small habits, such as mowing the grass or even using plastic grass, can have a big impact on insects. Luckily, by educating consumers Goulson believes that we can make a change for the better. For example, he shared that there are about 70,000 varieties of 14,000 plant species in UK garden centers, making it difficult for consumers to know which ones are better for the wildlife. In his research “Quantifying the attractiveness of garden flowers for pollinators” he found these plants are the top performers: Calaminta nepeta, helenium autamnale, and geranium rozanne.

Professor Dave Goulson  

“Visitors are immediately attracted”
At the end of the event, Peter Seabrook shared a virtual visit to the calendula trial at the RHS Garden Hyde Hall. They had over 80 different varieties of cultivars at their trial garden, and Seabrook shares that their visitors were immediately attracted to the bright colors and diversity of the calendula flowers.

Peter Seabrook  

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