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Diggers 2020 flower trials

The results of our 2020 trials brings beauty to our range. New selections join stalwarts in a celebration of annual flowers throughout the seasons.

Every year The Diggers Club trials new plants, bulbs and seeds to find the best performing garden-worthy plants to delight our members.

We are excited to share the latest selections from our 2020 flower trials – an extensive trial of annual flowers grown at our Heronswood garden. Trials are the foundation for choosing plants at The Diggers Club. How can we truly know all the exciting characteristics of plants and how they perform unless we grow and cultivate them to their floriferous glory?

The process of flower trials and selection

New selections that make it into the Diggers range go through a rigorous testing and trialling process to determine their garden-worthiness. First and foremost, they must thrive in our garden. Specific details of their characteristics, cultural and growing information are all carefully monitored and collected.

We are constantly considering the range of flowers we offer to Australian gardeners. The first step in considering our trial varieties is to determine the needs of Australian gardeners and the overarching mission of The Diggers Foundation to encourage and inspire gardeners to create beautiful and productive gardens for a sustainable future.

When creating a shortlist for trial we consider recommendations and enquiries from members, preservation of unique garden flowers, gardening in a changing climate with plants that tolerate stressful Australian conditions, gardening that encourages biodiversity and pollinators, and flowers that complement natural organic gardening. Of paramount importance is the hunt for beauty, as we firmly believe there is no excuse for ugliness in a garden.

More than ever gardeners are looking pragmatically for multipurpose and multidimensional flowers, i.e. ornamental and edible, beautiful and beneficial. We value a flower that looks beautiful outside in the garden and just as beautiful inside as a long-lasting cut flower in a vase.

Gardeners not only seek out varieties for beauty, but also to increase biodiversity, with qualities to attract pollinators and other beneficial insects. A study of the many desirable attributes of a wide range of seed sources results in a shortlist and we set out to acquire the seed. 

The 2020 flower trials were overseen by our dedicated gardener, Asha, at the Heronswood garden. The ‘primary control’ for the trials was ensuring the growing conditions were consistent and no more intensive than any of the regular practices and treatments of the existing certified-organic garden. The trials were left to perform with minimal intervention, receiving the same fertilisation and irrigation as the rest of the garden.

Diggers is fortunate to work with an international network of passionate seed experts dedicated to preserving heirloom and open-pollinated varieties. When considering a new introduction of potential flower varieties, we view images and references indicating their appearance and performance. Photos often show a particular flower in a certain light, while the actual colour in an Australian garden can be markedly different.

The selection - knowing by growing

Asha (left) and Jac with new introduction Zinnia ‘Lilliput Salmon’. One of the many flower bouquets we picked from our summer trials. 


Trialling and the selection of new varieties is always a joyful and exciting process. In many gardeners, there is a curious plant hunter stirring inside, seeking the rare, exciting or unusual. What’s old is new, as many of the selections we trialled this year are well-established garden flowers that have fallen from favour in modern gardens. Often when growing plants for the first time you find unexpected flowers or features you haven’t seen before.

As described by Asha, the experience always provides a great deal of anticipation and fun – those flowers that perform genuinely make us happy. Gardening, whether it be trialling new varieties or growing tried and true favourites, brings joy and pleasure regardless of its purpose.

As plant lovers, it is hard to be objective on new varieties until they are trialled. We grew some varieties with high hopes, but they simply didn’t perform or were readily susceptible to pests and diseases. We are always prepared to be disappointed with flower seeds that may have shown promise, but ultimately don’t succeed as garden-worthy options.

The process of growing and observing a plant yourself is always beneficial. As gardeners, we learn more than we ever will from references and experts when we physically engage in growing and tending a plant. We observe intricacies, learn facts and gain firsthand experience of how a particular plant grows.

This year’s flower trials generated 14 exciting new varieties for our range. We hope you enjoy these beautiful new additions listed throughout the Seed Annual.

A spectrum of helichrysums have joined our flower range thanks to the 2020 trials.


"This Goes With That"

Clive Blazey explains how to create art by planting summer perennial flower combinations.

5 Common Plants to Avoid

Clive Blazey says that we should avoid "Common" plants when designing a garden. These are his top 5 plants to avoid.

An Alternative to Natives

Clive Blazey talks about evergreen perennials in this extract from 'There Is No Excuse For Ugliness'



Autumn is the best time to plant your perennials

We talk about the benefits of planting your perennials in autumn.

Bearded Iris

Bearded Iris

Belladona, Nerines and Blood lily.

Autumn Flowering Bulbs from Southern Africa.

Californian Poppies

Vibrantly bold & beautiful, Californian Poppies are the perfect addition to any garden.

Climate compatible planting

Embrace our Australian climate. Beautiful gardens are easy to create which work with the Australian climate rather than battle against it.

Coastal Gardens

Clive Blazey explains which drought-tolerant plants cope in salty, windswept conditions


Easy-to-grow flowers perfect for new green thumbs. They flower long into the warmer months, adding height and colour in the happiest of ways. Their evenly-placed petals led them to be christened ‘Cosmos’ after the Greek word meaning harmony and order.

Creating a Beautiful Flower Garden

Clive Blazey explains the basic do’s and don’ts of flower gardening to help you succeed

Cutting summer perennials

Clive Blazey explains how to get twice as many flowers from the same perennials

Designing Gardens for a Mediterranean climate

Join Merilyn Kuchel, President of the South Australian Mediterranean Garden Society (SAMGS) as she discusses the successes and failures in making gardens suited to our Mediterranean Climate.

Flower garden basics

Gardening In The Shade

Bill Bampton discusses creating a shade garden

Ground Covers

Clive Blazey explains how to smother the weeds and cool your garden effortlessly





Members guide to the best plant selections

Diggers has won more awards than any other garden company



Planting Combinations

Bill Bampton talks about using subtle, permanent perennials to create pleasing summer gardens

Plants For Our El Nino Summers

Marcus Ryan explores an exquisite Mediterranean garden and nursery in the south of France

Progressing towards my own garden style

Jac Semmler creates a garden using wilder combinations of annuals and perennials.

Q&A - Bulbs

Julian Blackhirst answers our readers' questions on planting and lifting bulbs

Q&A - Man-made Gardens

Clive Blazey asks Cloudehill owner Jeremy Francis about man-made gardens

Returning to a wilder garden

Bill Bampton explains how returning to nature affects our gardening tastes

Reviving the cottage garden

Cottage plants were the purest forms of flowers before modern bedding plants took over





Soft Succulents For Summer Gardens

Clive Blazey introduces a child friendly, cool summer garden

Spring Flowering Bulbs

Spring Flowering Bulbs

Success with Wildflowers

Whimsical, vibrantly bold and beautiful, wildflowers are the perfect addition to any garden! follow our tips and tricks and learn how to grow your own wildflower meadow today.

Successful flower gardening

Clive explains the principles of “This goes with that”

Summer Success with Perennials

Simon Rickard explains how to succeed with perennials and grasses in summer and why spring-focused gardens invariably disappoint


Bright, bold and colourful, sunflowers are a beautiful and vibrant addition to any garden. Learn more about these versatile beauties.

Sweet Peas

Tim Sansom explains how to provide the heavenly scent of Sweet Peas for 9 months of the year

The Colour Wheel Garden

Garden Development at Heronswood, Home of the Diggers Club

The Persian Rose

Marcus Ryan visits Shropshire to explore the creation of new roses from the desert

Underplanting Orchards

Underplanting Orchards

Why are Australian summer gardens so disappointing?

Clive Blazey explains the Australian flower summer garden

Wildflower Meadow in the CBD

Evette Jungwirth tells the story of the huge, direct sown flower meadow at Birrarung Marr

Winter Gardens as Exciting as Summer

Simon Rickard discusses how to avoid the dead look of winter gardens


Zinnias are often overlooked due to their appeal in a bygone era - to our loss as their performance through hot spells and natural variation are true assets, as is their repeat flowering and long performance in a vase. Prominent flowers shine in abundance.
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A cool-white selection of giant geranium with large incised palmate leaves up to 25cm across, topped by a huge bouquet of abundant starry white flowers with subtle pink centres from late winter to Christmas. Rarely offered (you'll never see this one in the box stores), it is an eye-catching feature in moist, sunny or part shaded areas protected ...
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2 year membership  + Free Seed Sowing Poster and 2 seed packets
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A beautifully illustrated heirloom ‘sow what when’ poster for all areas of Australia so that you'll never have to think about what to sow this month again! You will also receive some free Kale 'Red Russian' and Broccoli 'Green Sprouting' seeds to get your garden started.
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