Monday 25 April 2016
• £1,250 pumpkin seed to be grown at Hyde Hall
• Challenge now on to grow a record-breaking pumpkin
• Official UK weigh-in on 8 October 2016
A pumpkin seed purchased for £1,250 is now in the tender loving care of Matthew Oliver, a horticulturist at RHS Garden Hyde Hall in Essex, and the challenge is now on for him to grow a world-record-breaking pumpkin.
The seed was purchased in February at auction by Thompson & Morgan Horticultural Director Paul Hansord. Although the price paid for this single pumpkin seed surpassed all previous records, the chance to own a potentially world-record-breaking seed was too good an opportunity for Paul to miss.
With the UK home to some of the most passionate pumpkin growers, Paul threw down the gauntlet to vegetable growers to take on the challenge of growing a giant specimen from the world’s most expensive pumpkin seed. Of the applicants that applied, Paul knew straight away that Matthew was the right person for the task. Paul said: “Matthew’s enthusiasm and devotion for pumpkins was evident, and he was absolutely thrilled when I delivered the news that the seed was his.”
Matthew said: “The pressure to deliver is massive. I’m not sure whether it was a brave or stupid idea to take on this challenge, but I’ll give it my best shot. Let’s just say that my holiday plans will be on hold until after the October weigh-in, so that I can dedicate the time and effort required.”
Guy Barter, RHS Chief Horticultural Advisor, said: “The best advice I can give to Matthew is to make sure that the one and only seed germinates. Pumpkin seeds are rich in oils and respire very fast so they need plenty of air. Use an open seed mix and avoid any hint of sogginess. The RHS-approved, peat-free Sylvagrow is the best seed-raising medium I have found. Keeping it at 18–25°C is best. Getting off to a flying start is vital. I suggest watering in with a starter fertiliser when planting out, and covering with fleece or a cloche until it gets too big. Good luck.”
The pumpkin seed comes with in-built genetics from the world’s current record holding pumpkin grower, Beni Meir from Switzerland, whose specimen weighed in at a whopping 1,054 kg (2,323 lb). However, we will have to wait until 8 October 2016 to see if Matthew’s pumpkin is a prizewinner, when it will be taken to the UK’s official weigh-in at the Autumn Pumpkin Festival at Netley Park, Southampton.
Matthew won’t be alone in his endeavours this season. Thompson & Morgan was so impressed with the enthusiasm of those pitching for the seed, that is has called favours with other giant pumpkin growers to source more seeds for five ‘runners up’. The pressure is on, but we look forward to seeing the fruits of their labour at the autumn festival.
Updates on Matthews attempt will be posted on the RHS Garden Hyde Hall social media pages: twitter.com/rhshydehall and www.facebook.com/rhshydehall
For more information, please contact: Sue Carter, RHS Garden Hyde Hall; 01245 402006; firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to editors
About RHS Garden Hyde Hall
RHS Garden Hyde Hall, Creephedge Lane, Rettendon, Chelmsford, Essex CM3 8ET
www.rhs.org.uk/hydehall 0845 265 8071*
*Calls to RHS ‘08’ numbers cost 5p per minute, plus your telephone service provider`s access charge.
10am – 6pm (4pm November to February)
Last admission is one hour before closing. Closed Christmas Day.
2016 garden admission prices
RHS members enjoy free entry with a family guest (entitlements vary according to membership type).
Adults £10.00 (£11.00 with donation)
Children (5 – 16yrs) £5.00 (£5.50 with donation)
Children 4 & under Free
Family (2 adults + 2 children £25.50 (£28.25 with donation)
Groups of 10+ £9.00pp (booking essential)
About the RHS
The Royal Horticultural Society was founded in 1804 by Sir Joseph Banks and John Wedgwood to inspire passion and excellence in the science, art and practice of horticulture. Our vision is to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place. We believe everyone in every village, town and city should benefit from growing plants to enhance lives, build stronger, healthier, happier communities and create better places to live.
We held our first flower shows in 1820, were granted a Royal Charter in 1861 and acquired RHS Garden Wisley, our flagship garden, in 1903. From our first meetings in a small room off London’s Piccadilly, we have grown to become the world’s largest gardening charity.
At our gardens and shows, through our scientific research, website, publications, libraries, education and community programmes we inspire a passion for gardening and growing plants. We’re committed to promoting the value of gardens, demonstrating how gardening is good for us and explaining the vital roles that plants play in a sustainable world.
The RHS is committed to bring the joy of gardening to millions more people, inspire the next generation of gardeners and invest in the future to safeguard a £10.4 billion industry employing more than 300,000 people. We are entirely funded by our members, visitors and supporters. RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and help us secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 020 3176 5820, or visit www.rhs.org.uk/join
RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262