The whole horticultural industry owes gratitude to Peter Seabrook MBE, for the influence he had on our industry in over 70 years of his dedicated input.
That industry which Peter supported with his whole heart is coming together at Gardeners World Live 2022 this June. The horticultural industry’s ‘thank you’ to Peter will be one of the main attractions in the Floral Marquee at the show at the NEC between the 16th and 19th June.
The concept of Peter’s display, much of which was already being planned by him before he died suddenly in January of this year, was to celebrate 100 years of the BBC (centenary year 2022), 60 years of BBC TV gardening coverage and 50 years of Peter’s TV Gardening in the UK on the BBC - Pebble Mill and Gardeners World.
Peter channelled his seemingly boundless energy everyday into encouraging young people in gardening, new plants, learning and enthusing others to share his passion.
In true ‘Peter style’ the industry has come together to create the feature which is made up of four main elements, all of which relate to those passions in his life:
1. The Dig This Vegetable Plot – in 1975 when Peter became involved with BBC Pebble Mill at One TV programme one of his creations was the 10ft x 12ft plot to grow veg. His ‘Dig This’ section of the programme was a highlight feature from which he wrote his Vegetable Guide, published in 1976, which sold almost 1m copies.
Four years ago, visiting the horticultural unit at Pershore High School, Worcestershire, Peter saw students enthusiastically tending their 3m x 3m plots – he hatched the plan to show a school allotment as part of one of his gardening show displays. Like his ‘Dig This’ plot the student’s plots teach them the variety of veg and fruit they can grow in a limited space, the seasonality of produce and the effect of successional sowing. As well as saving food costs and miles, the benefits to people of all ages from the activity of gardening, working with nature and being in the outdoors have never been more relevant than today. Perhaps Peter was ahead of the game once more?
2. The Rose Border – One of Peter’s favourite plants was the rose, but which one? “Any one he would say and the stronger the scent the better”
The Precious series of roses from Whartons are super-healthy, repeat flowering, providing colour from May to November. Floribunda flowers on a dome shaped bush, with not many other flowering shrubs can compare with them for longevity of flower with relatively little maintenance. The border, edged with Verbena ‘Seabrook’s Lavender’ and new in 2021, Verbena ‘Margaret’s Memory’ (named after Peters wife, with Royalty proceeds going to The Alzheimer’s Society) adds an additional flowing edging of colour through the summer.
3. Peter was a founding Trustee of the David Colegrave Foundation, a charity that supports students of horticulture. As part of their ‘thank you’ to Peter for all the work he did over the 30 years for the charity, they have taken on The Pelargonium Wall he had planned to create at this year’s show. In Peter’s eyes geraniums always had an important place in the garden. Recent genetic developments by breeders across the world intrigued him and to show their versatility, variety and downright good value Peter conceived a wall of Pelargoniums to display their merits to show visitors.
4. Floral Fantasia – a ‘trial ground’ currently based at RHS Hyde Hall near Peter’s home town of Chelmsford, his concept was to create a pathway from breeder to consumer for new plants. This was a more recent vision Peter had, and something he had devoted a lot of his energy to during lock down while he also grieved the death of his wife of 60 years, Margaret who died recently. So far approaching 20 breeders and nurseries have put forward nearly 50 new varieties of plants for the display at Gardeners World. This includes some new Dianthus from Volmary that are so new they have yet to be named! A new Forsythia from Hilliers, the Bubbles series of Petunia from Kerley & Co. Calibrachoa Cabaret Good Night Kiss from Ball Colegrave, a new Nemesia from Bransford Webbs, Helenium autumnale Hayday Gold will also being showing its sunny face, introduced by Syngenta. Raymond Evison Clematis from the Channel Islands will be showing Clematis Issey.
Pot after pot of new plant varieties from colourful summer bedding to shrubs will highlight the work Peter carried on through over 60 years in the trade of finding, growing and promoting new plant varieties. Floral Fantasia feature at the RHS garden is a unique industry collaboration and the display promoting it to the public at Gardeners World Live will be one of its first exposures to the consumer.
It is hoped that the new Sweet Pea Peter Seabrook will also be on show and the new climbing rose announced in April by Whartons Nurseries Peter’s Persica.
“What better way to honour over 70 years of his work in the garden industry than for that industry to come together in ‘thanks’ for his tireless work on our behalf,” said Neil Gow who with Val Christman is co-ordinating the display.
Neil added: “We all have our own memories and recollections of working with Peter and the impact he had on our lives and our industry over many years and it is an honour to be involved with this display. We thank his family, Alison and Roger, for their help and support and also the team at Gardeners World Live for making it possible.”
Peter would be right behind the efforts of the industry to put on the display at Gardeners World Live, which Peter always described as one of his favourite events of the year.
A reception is being held for invited guests as part of the Press Preview in the Floral Marquee on the 15th June, when a glass will be raised to honour Peter and for the industry to ‘thank’ probably the greatest ambassador we will ever have.
Peter would only have one regret – that he is not there himself to talk to show visitors and impart some of his gardening wisdom – a regret we all share.
As Peter himself would sign off his correspondence – ‘Kind regards’