The Woody Plant Committee discusses Indigofera howellii.
Last Friday, 'fresh' off the plane, I went to a meeting of the RHS Woody Plant Committee at Wisley. After the business was over, we went out to inspect the trials of woody plants that are currently in progress.
Trialling plants for their garden-worthiness is a major function of the Royal Horticultural Society's work, conducted over all classes of plant. As wide an assemblage of material as possible is procured for each trial, and this is then grown together, with every entry receiving identical treatment. The trial is judged at intervals by the appropriate group from the Trials Committee - sometimes visiting every week or fortnight during the flowering season - and each entry is assessed for its qualities by a panel of experienced horticulturists. The aim is to see which plants perform best and can be granted the Award of Garden Merit for their all round performance: an AGM is an accolade to the plant and a commendation to gardeners. It has nothing to do with novelty, just steady garden performance, so can be won by any cultivar that achieves the standard required.
Clematis 'Purpurea Plena Elegans' dates from Elizabethan times: its extant AGM is likely to be renewed.
After lunch we went to the other end of the garden to see the trials of Weigela, Indigofera and related legumes, and Buddleja. I skipped the weigelas and only skimmed through the buddlejas as I needed to get home before the effects of an overnight flight took hold.