The production of seed, particularly for ornamentals, is a mix of gardening art and science. In order to produce quality seed many factors have to be combined together.
Parent stocks: these must be high quality and uniform. We maintain our own stocks, and much of our trialling effort goes into proving parent stock quality.
Isolation: in order to prevent cross-contamination between different varieties these have to be grown far enough apart to stop bees travelling between them. Many different locations are needed. Each crop is visited several times during the growing season.
Growing: both in greenhouse and field the crop needs to be well grown and kept weed-free. Stressed plants rarely produce high germinating seed.
Climate: the climate of the production area needs to be chosen carefully to suit the needs of the plants, combined with the choice of greenhouse or field production.
Harvest: harvesting when seed is properly ripe, and immediate post-harvest handling of the seed to properly condition it, are crucial to the final out-turn. For many species, including most F1 varieties, this phase is carried out by hand.
Seed Testing: seed is regularly tested in-house to ensure that only quality seed with good germination and vigour is supplied.