Actaea rubra: Powerhouse Plant For All Seasons
Chelsea Flower Show Plant Of The Year Winner: Mahonia 'Soft Caress'

Plant Of The Century

It’s a hundred years ago this year, in 1913, that the most famous flower show in the world, The Chelsea Flower Show, was first staged and to mark the centenary of the show the Royal Horticultural Society is asking gardeners to vote for the Plant Of The Century.

They’ve chosen a plant from each decade, and each is introduced on video by a gardener of the appropriate generation - from a 92 year old ex-paratrooper to an eight year old schoolgirl. Anyone can go online and vote for their favorite. These are the plants.

Saxifraga ‘Tumbling Waters' (1913-1922)

Pieris formosa
var. forrestii (1923-1932)


Russell hybrids (1933-1942)

Rhododendron yakushimanum

Rosa Iceberg (‘Korbin’) (1953-1962)

Cornus ‘Eddie’s White Wonder’ (1963-1972)

‘Bowles's Mauve’ (1973-1982)

Heuchera villosa ‘Palace Purple’ (1983-1992)

Geranium Rozanne (‘Gerwat’) (1993-2002)

Streptocarpus ‘Harlequin Blue’ (2003-2012)

Not everyone is happy with this list, I have to say. As one Royal Horticultural Society insider (who had better stay nameless) has already emailed me: “Typical RHS, they’ve ignored all the annuals and patio plants that people actually grow and included two shrubs that only grow on acid soil which most of the country doesn’t have.” Hmmm… Got a point, there…

Me? I’d probably vote for Iceberg rose although now that the sulfurous pollution that kept mildew and blackspot at bay in the 1950s is gone it’s a martyr to disease. Or the Russell lupins. But I think Geranium Rozanne will probably win, especially as the nursery that sells it has its PR firm campaigning on its behalf.

Click on the images to see each one enlarged. Check out all ten plants on the Plant of The Century webpage, or click the plant links above to see details of each plant an cast your vote. Voting closes at 12 noon BST Friday 24 May, 2013. Which do you think is Plant Of The Century?