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The Behind the Genes garden offers a visually inspiring insight into the processes of plant breeding, selection and development. Techniques used to bring about the improvement of plant species are explained to show the commitment and expertise involved in plant breeding, prompting show visitors to think about the future of plant breeding and the possibilities it holds.

Sparsholt Horticulture students are collaborating with members of Thompson & Morgan to design and execute these key messages. Joining the team is Lance Russell, Thompson & Morgan horticulturalist, who first visited RHS Chelsea as a student member of the Sparsholt College Gold Medal-winning team in 2014.

To explain the exciting science behind The Behind the Genes garden, Lance and the College team is joined by plant hunter Peter van Rijssen, an inspirational horticultural figure who manages the trials for a worldwide portfolio of new plants as well as being on the board of directors of the Royal Dutch Horticultural Society (KVBC) and an avid promoter on social media of plants and new genetics, trialling new varieties at locations all around the world.

 

VIEW OUR BEHIND THE GENES LEAFLET

Part of the garden illustrates the three steps of development for the Digitalis x valinii Illumination Pink which won RHS Chelsea Plant of the year in 2012.

STEP 1: DIGITALIS PURPUREA

 

The Common Foxglove which is native to the UK is propagated from seed and naturally pollinated.

STEP 2: DIGITALIS PURPUREA ‘PRIMROSE CAROUSEL’

Bred for its dwarf habit, colour and densely-packed flowers all around the stem, this was the first primrose-yellow Foxglove coming true from seed with large, creamy yellow, claret-speckled flowers introduced in 1999.

STEP 3: DIGITALIS X VALINII ILLUMINATION PINK

A sterile, compact hybrid which is a cross between Digitalis Purpurea and Digitalis Canariensis. Bred for its beautiful flower shapes and distinctive colour shades, blooming on multiple flower spires.