Mr Fothergill's campaign to raise funds for the work of the Royal Hospital Chelsea in the centenary year of the outbreak of the First World War (2014) has undoubtedly struck a chord both with its retail stockists and their customers, the Suffolk seedsman reports. It has 1,000 stockists of the counter-top display units of fund-raising Poppy Victoria Cross, including Homebase and leading garden centres throughout the UK. And with a pledge of 25p to the Royal Hospital's charity from every packet of 250 seeds priced at £1.85, a sum of £11,000 has already been raised just a few weeks after the initiative's launch.
"The support our campaign has received both from our stockists and from gardeners has been quite remarkable", says Mr Fothergill's product manager David Turner. "We have had to reprint packets and display units to keep up with demand from our retailers. It is great to know our customers are backing the work of the Royal Hospital Chelsea Appeal".
Poppy Victoria Cross is remarkable for the bold white 'cross' it bears across its single red flowers, which are borne through the summer. Easy to grow and quick to flower from a spring sowing, this form of Papaver somniferum is ideal for informal borders and cottage garden settings. Its distinctive 'pepper-pot' seedheads are also useful in dried arrangements when flowering ends.
Established in 1682 by Charles II to provide a safe home for military veterans 'broken by age or war', the Christopher Wren-designed Royal Hospital admitted its first pensioners in 1692. The scarlet tunics and black tricornes of its residents and the Royal Horticultural Society's Flower Show held in the Royal Hospital grounds every May are equally well known and respected around the world.
The Royal Hospital's fund-raising manager Kate Marsh explained "Donations from the sale of Mr Fothergill’s Victoria Cross Poppy will enable us to improve the facilities and living conditions of the Chelsea Pensioners as well as helping us to secure a future for those young soldiers serving in the British Army today"