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Press Release RHS Chelsea 2018

Published: 22nd May 2018


Leading US seed company returns to Chelsea after 2017 debut


The European division of W. Atlee Burpee & Co., an American seed company that first traded with the UK in the1890s, is returning to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show to showcase its innovative range of seeds for home gardeners.


Partnering with multi Chelsea Gold award-winning nurserymen, Chris Smith and Mike Milligan from Pennard Plants, Yorkshire based Burpee Europe will be showcasing its new varieties of tomato, pepper and watermelon seeds at the five day show.


Simon Crawford, Burpee’s Sales and Marketing Director, explains the rationale for the Chelsea initiative: “Burpee is known as the name behind the seeds for many companies including Pennard Plants, Thompson and Morgan and Suttons. We are proud that we are one of only a handful of active seed houses in the UK and want to showcase our specially developed seeds to Britain’s home gardeners, especially those interested in container planting. Chelsea is a fabulous opportunity to reach the nation’s amateur growers.”


Burpee specialises in developing and breeding disease resistant varieties of vegetables and flowers that can be grown sustainably by home gardeners and was delighted to win a Gold Medal for Pennard Plants’ 2017 exhibit that featured a green roofed hobbit hut, a meadow with 20 species of wild flowers and a selection of Burpee’s tomato, pepper and cucumber plants. This year’s exhibit, located at GPC149, features an Alitex greenhouse and showcases plants that can be grown in containers for urban gardens.


The varieties that will be at Chelsea have all been grown at leading horticultural research station, Stockbridge Technology Centre in North Yorkshire and include;


Tomato Oh Happy Day - NEW
A proven blight resistant variety with exceptional flavour

Tomato Honeycomb - NEW      
Exquisitely flavoured golden orange cherry tomato with a honey-like aftertaste

Tomato Shimmer - NEW    
Unique, almond shaped tomato with green stripes and touches of shimmering gold on a deep red background

Tomato Cherry Baby
A prolific and flavoursome cherry tomato that won favour with the Duchess of Cambridge at Chelsea 2017

Tomato Rugby - NEW
A new development in pink fruited tomatoes that is ideal for the home gardener with a small greenhouse

Tomato Patio Plum           
A windowsill tomato that produces fruit from May to December.

The tomato exhibit will be dedicated to the memory of leading plantsman and horticultural scientist, Brian Tree.

Pepper Cardinal
A sweet pepper that turns purple to red on compact plants

Pepper Popti                          
A finalist in last year’s ‘Chelsea Plant of the Year’ Popti is a very prolific sweet pepper for small spaces

Pepper Lemon Dream – NEW
Suitable for growing on a sunny patio, the compact plants produce masses of small bright yellow peppers all summer long which are sweet but with a hint of spiciness.

Pepper Afterglow
This new variety of sweet bell pepper crops well from July to October in a cold greenhouse, or outdoors on a sunny, sheltered patio

Cucumber Merlin                       
A fabulous mid-sized cucumber with an astonishing yield

Watermelon Little Darling – NEW
The rugby ball shaped fruit have a deep crimson flesh which is deliciously rich and sweet, reaching 12 on the brix scale.

The seeds for Oh Happy Day, Honeycomb Cherry Baby and Crimson Crush were bred by Simon Crawford in East Yorkshire and Patio Plum was bred by Jim and Eve Reeve in Chesterfield, Derbyshire.

Pennard Plants’ Chris Smith is looking forward to working with Simon Crawford and Burpee again in 2018: “Burpee has an excellent reputation and Simon is a very well respected seed breeder who has initiated a successful European tomato breeding programme at his base in Yorkshire.

We’re excited about the opportunities that Chelsea affords both businesses and we’re very grateful to Alitex for supplying the greenhouse and Dalefoot for providing the peat free compost made from sheep’s wool and bracken from the Lake District fells for the containers.”

The two businesses will also partner at RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show in July, where they will be located in the ‘Dig it’ area at stand number DG394.

Privately owned Burpee was founded by W. Atlee Burpee in 1876 and is the leading company in America’s home gardening industry. It breeds, produces and distributes seeds and plants of vegetables and flowers worldwide.


Pennard Plants was awarded Gold in 2016 for an exhibit of 3 different allotment gardens, Modern, Edwardian and a re-creation of an allotment garden from the Pensioners at the Royal Hospital, Chelsea. Pennard Plants also won Gold at Chelsea in 2013, 2015 and 2017.

Plants and seeds of Burpee’s new lines will be available to buy at Chelsea.


On Press Day, food writer, grower and photographer Mark Diacono will be making cocktails with a vocal ensemble singing ‘Oh Happy Day’.


  1. Pennard Plants is based in a Victorian Walled Garden in Somerset and grows and sells one of the largest selections of edible plants, heritage and heirloom seeds, fruit and herb plants in the UK. Chris Smith is an award winning nurseryman and accomplished speaker. For more information, please visit

  2. Dalefoot Compost is a peat free compost made from sheep’s wool and bracken from the Lake District fells and is the ideal medium for growing vegetables and salad. It provides all the nutrients that hungry plants need to thrive, so no need for additional feed. The wool within the compost retains water which can reduce your watering by up to 50%, which saves time and money and makes it perfect for urban gardening in pots, tubs and raised beds.

Dalefoot can be found at Chelsea 2018 at stand number 545.

  1. Simon Crawford was appointed to the RHS Herbaceous Plant Committee in 2006. Other involvements with the RHS include appointment to the Trials Advisory Committee in 2009 and invitations to judge at major RHS Shows, including Chelsea Flower Show.

  2. In Oct 2016, Burpee and The Burpee Foundation gifted $2.5 Million to ensure the operation and maintenance of the White House Kitchen Garden initiated by First Lady Michelle Obama. 

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