A couple of years ago I published a book called Powerhouse Plants. It was my choice of individual plants that have two, three or even four different features that bring colour and interest to our gardens at different seasons of the year. Now, a Powerhouse Plant has won the sixth Chelsea Plant of The Year award.
Announced recently at the Chelsea Flower Show, Viburnum plicatum f. tomentosum Kilimanjaro Sunrise (‘Jww5’) (above, click to enlarge) won this year’s award, its four seasons of interest marking it out from the other entries.
The white lacecap spring flowers, developing pink tints as they age, are followed by red berries maturing to black, then a second flush of flowers opens later in the year which is rounded off by a fiery burst of autumn leaf colour. This form develops into a slightly smaller shrub than previous varieties but is as tough and easy to grow.
In second place was a very different plant, a streptocarpus called ‘Polka-Dot Purple’ (left, click to enlarge), from Dibleys, the world’s leading streptocarpus breeder and the same breeder that created the first winner of this award back in 2010. The prettily purple patterned white flowers caught everyone’s eye. This is an ideal windowsill house plant that flowers for ten months of the year.
In third place, Salvia ‘Love and Wishes’ (below, click to enlarge) is a richly coloured half-hardy perennial developed in Australia. This long-flowering plant is hardy in warm gardens and is superb for summer patio containers everywhere else.
It’s a great to see a plant to that so completely fulfils the Powerhouse Plants ideal of multiseason interest winning this prestigious award.
Viiburnum plicatum f. tomentosum Kilimanjaro Sunrise (‘Jww5’) is available in Britain from Crocus but is not yet available in North America.
Streptocarpus ‘Polka-Dot Purple’ is available in Britain from Dibleys and will be available in North America in a year or two.
Salvia ‘Love and Wishes’ is available in Britain from Dysons Nurseries. The plant has its very own website and in North America is part of the Southern Living Plant Collection.
Find out more about Powerhouse Plants.
As we approach the mass launch of new varieties at this year's Chelsea Flower Show, I just thought you might like to see the new plants I've been writing up over the last few months on my New Plants blog on the Royal Horticultural Society website. Lots of goodies... And news of the newcomers at Chelsea will be here soon.
A new star Is born: Clematis Astra Nova
New blue-and-white flowered brunnera
New double-flowered Christmas rose (left)
The first golden-leaved pyracantha
Nandina Blush Pink: new for its colourful foliage
World’s first 100% blight resistant tomato
Unique new pastel French marigold (below)
This is a tale of two corydalis. One spreads steadily, but very slowly, the other is worrying the invasive plants people.
Corydalis solida ‘Blushing Girl’ (above) is a spring ephemeral for woodland conditions, at its peak today. It comes and goes relatively quickly in spring, then its little tubers sit and wait to do it all again the following year. The soft pink of its crowded flower heads is lovely, but it spreads only slowly.
Corydalis solida has a wide European distribution and this form originates from the great Latvian plantsman Janis Ruskans. It was available in the US from the late lamented Seneca Hill Nursery but no one, not even Odyssey Bulbs who list a huge range, seems to list it. In the UK, there are three stockists.
Since I’ve started feeding my clump with Miracle-Gro it’s spreading; I split it last year and it’s increasing noticeably. However, no seedlings. This is because individual clones of Corydalis solida are self incompatible – they will not set seed when fertilized with their own pollen. I’ve been tempted to buy one or two different ones, so they’ll cross and I’ll get seedlings. Now I wish I had, but I'd been trying to be sure that the lovely ‘Blushing Girl’ stayed true.
By contrast, there’s Corydalis incisa. This is an annual or biennial from Japan, Korea, Taiwan and China described as “startling” by the authors of the excellent book Bleeding, Hearts, Corydalis and Their Relatives (Available in Britain from amazon.co.uk and available in North America from amazon.com). They also say that they’ve seen it naturalized along the Bronx River in New York City.
As you’ll have guessed, no incompatability problems here and it now seems to be spreading in the City sufficiently to have alerted The New York Botanical Garden. It’s also been spotted elsewhere on the east coast: Maryland, DC, and Virginia.
This is not a plant that’s widely grown in gardens, it’s stocked by four UK nurseries and by Sunshine Farm & Gardens in the US so, I have to say, it’s entirely possible that it escaped from one of the City’s botanical gardens!
But let’s not get carried away. Of course, we don't want another plant smothering our natives along river banks and in flood plains. But it It’s only been seen as an escape for a few years – which, in ecological time, is just a moment– and, as we know, sometimes plants that seem threatening just fade away. In the meantime, enjoy ‘Blushing Girl’ and the many other forms of Corydalis solida. I’m going to keep pouring on the Miracle-Gro and take a closer look at those listed by Odyssey Bulbs.