Chelsea Flower Show Plant Of The Year 2014
Spring and summer

Multicolored newcomers

HibiscusSummerificCherryCheesecake-700Every year the good people at Proven Winners send us some new plants to try. This year’s parcel arrived recently and there are two plants that look especially tempting so I thought I’d mention them straight away – before they’re even planted (torrents of rain today).

Hibiscus ‘Cherry Cheesecake’ (left, click to enlarge), in their Summerific® Series, is nothing if not dramatic, and gorgeously colorful. It’s a hardy perennial hibiscus with flowers 7-8in/20cm across set against dark green maple-like foliage on plants about 4-5ft/1.4-1.5m high. And it blooms all the way up the stems, not just at the tips.

It's tough, too; a few years ago I saw the field in Michigan where breeders Walters Gardens test all the their new seedlings; it’s cold, plants are hardy to zone 4/-34C. For British gardeners it’s more the summer that’s the problem: is it hot enough for these plants? Well, we’ll soon see as a British grower has been testing the whole Summerific® Series and if they thrive we’ll see all four varieties in nurseries in a year or two. In North America, you can order Hibiscus ‘Cherry Cheesecake’ from the Vermont Wildflower Farm.

The other plant that caught my attention amongst this year’s Proven Winners samples is Calibrachoa Superbells® ‘Frostfire’ (below, click to enlarge). There have been some gorgeous multicolored calibrachoas introduced in recent years, I especially like Superbells® ‘Lemon Slice’, which was such a success last year, and also Superbells® ‘Tangerine Punch’. In ‘Frostfire’ the white flowers have a yellow throat streaked in red. Unique – but not available until next year.

These newcomers have something in common: the flowers are multicolored, white and cherry red, or white and yellow and red. This gives you a clue as to what to grow with them. Choose plants with white or red flowers alongside the hibiscus, and plants with white yellow or fiery red flowers in a basket with the calibrachoa. That’s the way to create a harmonious look.
CalibrachoaSuperbellsFrostfire-700


Comments

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Charlie@Seattle Trekker

I really fancy the hardy hibiscus; I have three in the garden and I believe there is a bit more room for a small shrub that does not grow over 4 or 5 feet tall. I am really intrigued by your post, I will watch for them to come onto the market.

Graham Rice

Yes, those hibiscus look amazing. Most have been available in North America this year but are sold out now for the season; check in the fall and get orders in promptly.

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