The winner, and runners up, of the very first Chelsea Flower Show Plant of the Year
have been announced this morning. The award is specifically for new plants introduced in the last year and not seen before at a British show.
From a shortlist of twenty potential winners. The winner is Streptocarpus
'Harlequin Blue', the latest in the long line of compact and prolific streptocarpus intended as house plants and raised by Lynne Dibley of Dibleys Nurseries
in Wales. At each year’s Chelsea and Hampton Court Palace Flower Shows she always seems to have a new introduction. This is the first bicolor streptocarpus whose flowers open relatively flat and show of their delightful coloring effectively - with primrose yellow on the lower petals contrasting effectively with the pale blue upper petals. A compact plant with masses of flowers, it really looks gorgeous.Streptocarpus
'Harlequin Blue' is available from Dibleys Nurseries
The runner’s up prize went to Gaura lindheimeri
'Ruby Ruby', the most recent of the selections of Gaura
made by Rosy Hardy at Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants. ‘Ruby Ruby’ combines dark ruby pink flowers held on dark red stems, with dark red foliage in a rich combination.Gaura lindheimeri
'Ruby Ruby' is listed on the Hardy's Cottage Garden Plants
website but is, unfortunately, currently out of stock.
Finally, in third place, an especially good form of the rare white flowered variety of Cypripedium flavum
. This delightful orchid from China is usually seen, when it’s seen at all, with yellow flowers and with the each of the two more or less horizontal side petals swept back and, sometimes, the upper petal rolled down over the lip. In this form, from McBean’s Orchids
, not only are the flowers pure white but the side petals stand out straight and the upper petal stands straight up. The effect is much more bold.
This white form of Cypripedium flavum
is, unfortunately, not listed on the McBean’s Orchids
website and does not have a cultivar name. A white form of Cypripedium flavum
is listed in the RHS Plant Finder
as being available from Edrom Nurseries
– but it not listed on their website earlier. Such a form is listed on the Easy Orchids
So here’s the thing. This award is a great idea. It was a great idea when the RHS turned it down flat, complete with sponsorship, over ten years ago! And it will surely help counterbalance the media coverage which is usually biased in favor of the show gardens and often ignores the vast variety of beautiful and intriguing plants in the floral pavilion.
The winner is delightful, available by mail order and not expensive - £4 per plant. Unfortunately the second placed plant, though lovely, well-worth growing and listed on the Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants
website is, as I write, out of stock with no note of when it will be available. This is not only a missed opportunity for those of us who’d like to grow it but a missed opportunity for Hardy’s who are unable to capitalize fully on their award. All their other gauras are also out of stock.
And the third placed plant, that rare and distinctive form of Cypripedium flavum
, not only has no cultivar name but is not listed on the nursery’s website. And the usual form of C. flavum
is listed at £35 per plant plus £15 shipping. That’s out of reach of most gardeners – and how much will be the choice white form be?
So – a good first year, but flawed.
And by the way: An extra element in that original proposal for this competition was the chance for the show visitors to vote on their own favorite. Let’s hope the RHS can add that element next year.