Hosted by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), Floral Fantasia brings flamboyantly colourful and diverse planting to RHS Garden Hyde Hall, near Chelmsford, Essex.
Developed by Peter Seabrook over a number of years, prior to his death in January 2022, the garden is designed to showcase and celebrate the spectacular potential of seasonal plants. The Floral Fantasia garden acts as a bridge between the growing industry and the general public. Along with traditional favourites, it showcases new product development and introductions to the market.
Following Peter’s passing a working group was formed to raise funds and guide the development of the Floral Fantasia garden. The group reached out to businesses and individuals for donations to support the long‐term growth of Floral Fantasia as a ‘Centre of Excellence’ for seasonal plants.
The Floral Fantasia garden continues to be cared for by Hyde Hall staff member Molli Christman. Molli came to Hyde Hall under Peter Seabrook’s wing having worked with him at numerous shows where the Christman family provided horticultural advice and support. Financially supported by the Floral Fantasia fund, Molli continues her studies.
In 2022, £26,000 pledged was pledged, of which £23,000 has been received. Going forward, £25‐£30k needs to be raised each year to ensure its future survival. This will ensure the area is maintained, resourced, can showcase new plants, undertake trials and create inspirational displays for visitors.
For 2023‐24 season, £21,000 has been pledged, with £9,500 in the account, so further donations and support willbe needed. Any business or individual interested in making a donation should contact a member of the Floral Fantasia Working Group.
Another of Peter’s true passions were sweet peas. Since his involvement at Hyde Hall they have always been grown, many being cut for the on‐site catering outlets where the scent could be admired by visitors. To this end Sweet Pea ‘Peter Seabrook’ seeds is now available with £1.00 from every packet sold donated to the Floral Fantasia fund.
The group organised and planted a viola trail in the spring of 2022. Results were judged as per the RHS Plant Trials criteria which tests plants for their health, performance and weather endurance. Additionally, a People’s Choice Awards invited visitors to vote for their favourite plant, and in total over 300 votes were cast.
The viola trial was supported by Chris Moncrieff, ex‐RHS Head of Horticultural Relations, who argued the case to secure a trials coordinator for Hyde Hall, with the position currently being advertised, the successful applicant will work alongside Molli and the Hyde Hall team.
During the summer months this year the focus will be on salvias, a trial in partnership with Flueroselect. Salvias do particularly well at Hyde Hall and this trial will complement their use throughout the garden. From a visitor perspective it will shine a spotlight on a genera that comes in a vast range of forms and colours, which flower for months on end, and are widely available to purchase.
Hyde Hall will also be hosting the Flueroselect’s Annual General Meeting on 4 July 2023, providing an opportunity to show case the Floral Fantasia garden and how the industry as a whole has come together to continue Peter’s legacy.