Flower shows

Anemone 'Wild Swan' wins Chelsea Plant of the Year

Chelsea,Plant of the Year,Graham Rice
This year's Chelsea Flower Show Plant of the Year award has been won by Anemone 'Wild Swan' (above left, click to enlarge), bred by Elizabeth MacGregor and eneterd by Hardy's Cottage Garden Plants. Second place went to Saxifraga ‘Anneka Hope’ (above centre) bred by Matthew Ruane and available from Kevock Garden Plants, and Verbascum ‘Blue Lagoon’ (above right) bred and available from Thompson & Morgan was third.

“This year’s competition was extremely interesting with a great range of new plants,” said Raymond Evison, Chairman of the Plant Advisory Committee. “The award has been given to a marvellous performing new perennial plant. Not only does it exhibit a long flowering habit but it is also an exciting flower.”

 “I am absolutely thrilled that ‘Wild Swan’ has been voted plant of the year,” says Jim Gardener, Director of Horticulture RHS. “This plant is going to be a great addition to the boarder with its subtle shades and longevity of flowering.”

I'll be looking at these plants, and some of the other finalists, over on my RHS New Plants blog over the coming weeks.

Thank you to Carol Sheppard/RHS for the pictures.


Chelsea Plant of the Year finalists

Plant of the Year,Anemone,Chelsea Flower Show. Image ©Hardy's Cottage Garden Plants
The finalists for this year’s Chelsea Flower Show Plant of the Year have just been announced. This is the award for the best new plant not seen at a show before. It’s awarded on a vote of all the members of Royal Horticultural Society plant committees at the show. Here's the list. The winner will be announced tomorrow, read about it here on Transatlantic Gardener.

Anemone 'Wild Swan' (above, click to enlarge) - Hardy's Cottage Garden Plants
Begonia Apricot Fragrant Falls - Class Gardens
Brachyscome 'Magenta Delight' - Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne
Heucherella 'Brass Lantern' - Plantagogo.com
Heucherella 'Solar Power' - Plantagogo.com
Hydrangea macrophylla Avantgarde ('Hedi') - Class Gardens
Lewisia 'Little Mango' - D'Arcy & Everest
Lilium 'Firebolt' - HW Hyde
Lilium 'Julie Fowlis' - HW Hyde
Lilium 'Lankon' - HW Hyde
Lobelia erinus Waterfall Blue Ice (Waterfall Series) - Class Gardens
Nepenthes 'Princess' - Borneo Exotics
Petunia Black Velvet ('Balpevac') - Class Gardens
Rhododendron 'Rabatz' - Millais Nurseries
Sarracenia 'Johnny Marr' - Hampshire Carnivorous Plants
Saxifraga 'Anneka Hope' - Kevock Garden Plants
Streptocarpus 'Sioned' - Dibley's Nurseries
Uncinia rubra 'Belinda's Find' - John Woods Nurseries
Verbascum 'Blue Lagoon' - The British Plant Nursery Guide
Phalaenopsis Ming - Hsing Eagle - Taiwan Orchid Association

Begonias at the Chelsea Flower Show

Rhodes and Rockliffe,Begonia,Chelsea Flower Show. Image ©Rhodes and Rockliffe (all rights reserved)

The Chelsea Flower Show, the most prestigious flower show in the world, opens in London on Tuesday. In the run up to the Show I’ve been working on my survey of all the new plants that are promised for a Chelsea unveiling this year – one hundred and twenty two (yes 122) at my last count. These are mainly plants that have never been seen at a British flower show before and/or which have not been available to gardeners until this spring.

You’ll find my overview of the best in Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper (not up yet, link to follow) and my list of them all - good, bad and indifferent - on the RHS website (not up yet, link to follow).

But in gathering information I was especially impressed by the wide range of new begonias to be shown by Rhodes and Rockliffe, who hold Britain’s Plant Heritage National Plant Collection® of Begonia (open by appointment only). Many are of their own raising, some are from others. Twelve are shown in the picture (above, click to enlarge) and most are as yet unnamed although top right is ‘Savannah Pink Parfait’, and bottom left is ‘My Best Friend’ from a collection destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

Look out for Rhodes and Rockliffe at the Show (stand GPD17) and in the online, TV and print coverage.

And check out my posts on new Chelsea plants:
New lily hybrid on show for the first time anywahere in the world
New irises from Australia.

For more on the Chelsea Flower Show, start checking out these sites:
Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea Flower Show coverage
Chelsea Flower Show coverage from Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper
Chelsea Flower Show coverage from the BBC
Show advice from Britain's Guardian newspaper

Thank you to Daviid Rhodes of Rhodes and Rockliffe for the individual images.

The largest flower show in the world

Linaria purpurea,Mini-Me,Hardy's Cottage Garden Plants. Image: ©GardenPhotos.com (all rights reserved For the last few days I’ve been buzzing round Britain’s Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, the largest flower show in the world, where I’ve been reporting on various plant related issues.

It’s a wonderful show, with impressive outdoor show gardens and some of the most impressive floral exhibits seen at the Show. The show runs until Sunday and tickets are still available. And I have to say that one of the highlights is a spectacular vegetable and fruit garden.

But here are a few links to my reporting…

New Roses – with the focus on disease resistance
New Flowers – climbers, perennials and annuals
New Food Plants – fruit, veg and herbs (Coming soon)
Planting Combinations  – harmonious planting schemes
Foodie Planting Combinations – attractive plantings of ornamental food plants
Perennials – interesting plantings from around the show

You can access them all from here

And also coming soon is a short video interview featuring some of the most interesting new plants at the Show.

It's a great show, whether you're most interested in plants, gardens or all the ancillary paraphernalia. I came away with a lovely plant of Clematis Reflections™ (‘Evipo035’), raised by Raymond Evison and sold at the show by Taylor's Clematis Nursery, and four crocosmias in softer shades from Trecanna Nursery. I'll be trialling them as possible cut flowers.

National Plant Show - all the New Plant Awards

NemesiaSugarFrosted4486HTA The first National Plant Show has just closed at Stoneleigh Park near Coventry. This show is geared towards professional plantspeople but we’re all interested in the New Plant Awards. Time to wrap up the coverage.

I ran through the Gold Medal winners late yesterday and highlighted the Best in Show earlier yesterday. So let’s have a quick recap and then look at the Silver and Bronze awards.

Best in show
Begonia 'Glowing Embers'

Gold Medals
Begonia 'Glowing Embers'
Clematis Guiding Promise™ (‘Evipo053)
Coprosma ‘Tequila Sunrise’
Nemesia ‘Blueberry Ripple’
Nemesia ‘Framboise’

Silver Medals
Gazania ‘Apache’ Large plants and large flowers which are red with yellow petal tips LeucanthemumRealGalaxy4541HTA
Hydrangea ‘Endless Summer Twist ‘n’ Shout’ The latest in the repeat flowering series
Hydrangea paniculata ‘Bombshell’ Greenish white flowers on compact plants
Leucanthemum ‘Real Galaxy’ (Right, click to enlarge) Large eyed flowers with a mass of frilly creamy petals
Nemesia ‘Vanilla Lady’, Prolific, white and heavily vanilla scented
Rosa ‘Joie de Vivre’ Rose of the Year, neat, compact, prolific, disease resistant

Bronze Medals
Coprosma ‘Pacific Sunset’, glossy bronze foliage with a red centre
Gerbera Garvinea Series, Very hardy gerberas for the open garden
Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’ Very long flowering with soft orange flowers
NemesiaMirabelle4563HTA Nemesia ‘Mirabelle’ (Left, click to enlarge) Slightly smoky blue purple flowers in great numbers
Nemesia ‘Sugar Frosted’ (Top, click to enlarge) Misty pink flowers and very brightly variegated leaves
Salvia eigii ‘Christopher Fairweather’ Vivid pink hooked flowers on vertical stems
Sambucus nigra
‘Black Tower’ very upright with almost black leaves

Book next year's National Plant Show in your diary - 28 and 29 September 2011.

Gold Medal winners at the National Plant Show

Clematis,Guiding Light,Evipo053,National Plant Show. Image: ©GardenPhotos.com (all rights reserved So here’s more on the New Plant Awards at the first National Plant Show (last day tomorrow). Sponsored by ProVar, the non-profit agency that markets new plants, yesterday afternoon and evening I helped judge the awards – which were announced this morning. So here’s the full roster of Gold Awards
Begonia Glowing Embers, which I told you about this morning;
Clematis Guiding Promise™ (‘Evipo053), the latest from Raymond Evison;
Coprosma ‘Tequila Sunrise’, a dwarf shrub in brilliant colours;
Nemesia 'Blueberry Ripple', an amazingly prolific bicoloured nemesia;
Nemesia ‘Framboise’, also prolific and a wonderful fruity colour.

We gave the Best in Show award to Begonia Glowing Embers, for its combination of sultry chocolate bronze foliage and its many orange single flowers.
Coprosma,Tequila Sunrise,National,Plant Show. Image: ©GardenPhotos.com (all rights reserved)
Clematis Guiding Promise™ (‘Evipo053')  (top, click to enlarge) is the latest from ace clematis breeder Raymond Evison. It’s short, reaching just 0.9-1.2m/3-4ft, so is ideal sprawling through a low shrub and produces masses of six-petalled blue-purple flowers with dark centres in early summer and then again in late summer and autumn.

Coprosma ‘Tequila Sunrise’ (right, click to enlarge) originated in New Zealand as a sport of Coprosma ‘Yuanne’ and its very glossy,  wavy, evergreen green leaves are edged in rusty orange in summer turning red in winter. This looks to be a fine plant to use as a container specimen.
Nemesia,Blueberry Ripple,National Plant Show. Image: ©GardenPhotos.com (all rights reserved
Nemesia 'Blueberry Ripple' (left, click to enlarge) stood out from across the hall. A mass of scented blueberry and white flowers, the two colours separated by a yellow lip, keep coming on bushy plants all summer.

Nemesia ‘Framboise’ (right, click to enlarge), five nemesias gained awards in all, I liked this one for its rich fruity colouring and the way the foliage stayed even and compact and the flowers all stood up above it. Nemesia,Framboise,National Plant Show. Image: ©GardenPhotos.com (all rights reserved

I’ll tell you about the other award winners tomorrow. These are all new in Britain and just starting to become available in garden centres and by mail order. Look out for them.

Finally, without naming names, it was interesting to see that a number of entries simply failed to follow the rules. Following the rules is absolutely basic.
For example:
Five plants of each entry were required, so don’t submit just one.
Don’t turn up two hours after the deadline, when judging is almost complete, and expect your entry to be accepted.
If the main feature of a plant is its flowers, enter plants which are actually flowering!

The (British) National Plant Show

[This is a British thing - though perhaps with an interesting lesson for the US too.]

Heuchera,Autumn Leaves,National Plant Show,Terra Nova Nurseries. Image: ©Terra Nova Nurseries Next Tuesday sees the opening of the very first National Plant Show. Held at Stoneleigh Park, near Coventry in the English Midlands, on June 29 and 30. Over a hundred nurseries and seed companies will be exhibiting their plants. No patio furniture, no mock-stone containers, no plastic turf, no Christmas holiday gifts, no barbecues, no novelty hand tools, no cure-all pesticides, no cheesy lighting and no plastic anything.

Just plants.

Intended for garden centres, retail nurseries, florists, landscape and garden designers, and other industry professionals of all kinds – the National Plant Show does what so many of us have always wanted a show to do. It forgets everything else and focuses on the plants. Hundreds and hundreds of plants - trees, shrubs, perennials, patio plants - everything, as long as it's a plant.

Plus. There are also seminars from the likes of Raymond Evison (Guernsey Clematis), Andy McInroe (Hillier Nurseries) and Sarah Raven.

I’m honoured to be one of the judges for the New Plant Awards, which will be announced on the morning of June 29, and I’m looking forward to seeing the best of what the British plant trade has to offer. Like Heuchera ‘Autumn Leaves’ (above, click to enlarge), a star in the making, perhaps, from America’s Terra Nova Nurseries.

You can sign up as a visitor online here.

I'll tell you all about it when I get back.

Chelsea Plant of the Year winners

Streptocarpus 'Harlequin Blue'. Image: ©Dibleys Nurseries. All rights reserved. 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 Gaura lindheimeri 'Ruby Ruby'. Image: ©Hardys Cottage Garden Plants. All rights reserved. lindheimeri 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.

Cypripedium flavum (white form) Image: ©RHS. All rights reserved. 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 website.

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.

What? Not at the Chelsea Flower Show?

Cypripediumacaulae3552 Press Day at the Chelsea Flower Show today – and we’re not there. An unexpected conjunction of circumstances (that’s code for “I’m not going to go into all the details”) results in us not being there this year.

And it was thirteen years ago today, that my wife judy and I met – on Press Day at the Chelsea Flower Show – when she was running the very first online coverage at the Show for Time Warner’s late lamented Virtual Garden website. She was helped by expert gardening editor Fiona Gilsenan and joining me in the British reporting contingent was the man who is now Vice-Chair of the RHS Nigel Colborn!

“A baker’s dozen of years,” says judy. “Which one was the free one, I wonder?”

So by way of celebration the plan is to go and check out the last remaining wild local lady's slipper orchids (above, click to enlarge). They almost always flower in Chelsea week, so the upside of missing the Show is the opportunity to see them bloom. The last ones left in this area, I might say, are inside a huge fence which keeps the ravenous deer out.

And we’ll be keeping an eye on the Show, via the rich online coverage that's developed since judy’s pioneering (and highly fortuitous) first visit.

Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea coverage
Daily Telegraph Chelsea coverage
Chelsea coverage in The Guardian
BBC Chelsea coverage (video in the UK only, I’m afraid)
Follow the RHS at Chelsea on Twitter
Follow the RHS Chelsea coverage on Facebook

Matt Appleby of Hort Week on Chelsea
Anne Wareham of ThinkinGardens on Chelsea garden themes

UPDATE: The day turned damp and drizzly - so we went to the supermarket instead. They had a special offer on cans of clam chowder so we bought two! What a day! Ah, married life. Thank you Chelsea.

Sunny weekend of plants in Maryland

Color themed display at Homestead Gardens I’m just back from lecturing at one of the best known garden centers in the east, Homestead Gardens in Davidsonville, Maryland… about 25 miles from Washington, DC. It was the second weekend of their Kaleidoscope of Color spring show and their landscape department had designed some colorful show gardens – featuring marigolds in full flower… in March! They also had an exceptional bargain – large pots of pretty yellow kalanchoe in full flower – for only $1.99.

After a soggy session the previous weekend the sun blazed, the place was packed and carts were filling up quickly as people shopped for plants then dashed home to get everything planted before yesterday’s downpour.

I talked about the many varieties of New Perennials coming on to the market from around the world and, judging by the underlining and scribbled notes on people’s handouts, the staff at Homestead are going to be asked for lots of new plants this season. Especially the many new hellebores, Double hellebores,Terra Nova Nurseries. Image ©Terra Nova Nurseries judging by the number of dropping jaws  when the pictures came on the screen.

Then as I wandered amongst the benches packed with lush perennials after Saturday’s presentation a couple of people stopped to ask me about the new hybrid coneflowers I’d shown – they said they’d been great the first year in the flower gardens, but never came up the following spring.

Drainage is the answer – these new echinaceas hate soggy soil in winter. Consistently moist soil in summer helps them flower for longer and helps prevent the lower leaves from drying up but wet soil in winter is a killer. So choose a sunny, well-drained site. Often the soil in borders becomes raised up over the years with Echinaceas,Terra Nova Nurseries. Image ©Terra Nova Nurseries regular mulching and often that extra depth of soil is enough to allows surplus moisture to drain away from the crowns of the coneflowers. Or choose a site where the soil is naturally well-drained, or amend the soil to improve the drainage.

Also speaking this weekend at Homestead Gardens was Katy Moss Warner – President Emeritus of the American Horticultural Society, no less. You can read about her presentation on the Homestead Gardens blog.

Now, it’s catching up time. When the internet connection in the hotel - the Marriott Courtyard, Annapolis, Maryland… take note - is so slow that it’s almost impossible even to get a Tweet out, I now find I have quite a backlog. OK... on to the next thing – which would be another mug of coffee. After yesterday’s six and half hour drive back through torrential downpours I still need waking up.