Gold again for Potato Story at Chelsea Flower Show


30th May 2016

The Potato Story, an exhibit without a single decorative bloom on show, has charmed Chelsea Flower Show judges into awarding a gold medal to Scottish potato aficionados Morrice and Ann Innes for the second year running – the only medals for a potato-only display in the show’s illustrious history.

The display, which included varieties bred at the James Hutton Institute and from the Commonwealth Potato Collection hosted in Dundee, acted as a showcase of the humble potato by highlighting more than 140 varieties and tracing its history, while drawing attention to its diversity and versatility in the garden and kitchen.

Morrice Innes claims to have the largest private collection of potato varieties, built up over more than 20 years, and has long championed his favourite vegetable. He said: “We’ve tried to tell the tale of the potato by highlighting a vast array of skin colours, shapes, and sizes while suggesting the best uses of each variety and the places where they come from.

“You will not find many of these varieties for sale at the supermarket. Hopefully, we’ll help inspire more people to grow potatoes and to try some of the more unusual forms while they are at it.”

In addition to species from Mr Innes’ collection, original South American species from the Commonwealth Potato Collection hosted at the James Hutton Institute were showcased in the display. The collection is the UK’s genebank of landrace and wild potatoes held in trust by the James Hutton Institute with the support of the Scottish Government, and it is one of a network of international potato genebanks. It comprises around 1500 accessions of about 80 wild and cultivated potato species. Each accession traces back to a handful of berries or tubers from potato plants in South or Central America gathered from the wild or obtained from a grower at a market. Such genetic resources are priceless, comprising the basic resource for the improvement and adaptation of one of the world’s most important food crops.

Professor Colin Campbell, Chief Executive of the James Hutton Institute, congratulated Mr Innes and commented: “This is a great success for Morrice and Ann and truly showcases the diversity of potato. We\'re happy that we were able to help and reveal only a fraction of the gem that is the Commonwealth Potato Collection.

“Given that recent predictions estimate a global population of 11 billion by 2100 and potato has become the third most important food crop, this collection will become even more valuable as it hosts future sources of genes for the generation of potato varieties with increased disease resistance, yield, sustainability and nutritive value. Furthermore, the Scottish Government must also be congratulated for underpinning funding for the collection.” 

Pictures attached: Ann Innes (left), Gaynor McKenzie, Commonwealth Potato Collection manager (centre) and Morrice Innes in front of Potato Story display © James Hutton Institute.

James Hutton Institute

The James Hutton Institute is a world-leading scientific organisation encompassing a distinctive range of integrated strengths in land, crop, waters, environmental and socio-economic science. It undertakes research for customers including the Scottish and UK Governments, the EU and other organisations worldwide. The institute has a staff of around 600 and 150 PhD students.

Back to news