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The Passionate Plantsman 23rd May 2017

Show Season Is Here!

Show Season Is Here!

It seems like only yesterday that we were packing up at RHS Tatton Park Flower Show and putting it to bed for another year. Time waits for no man though and RHS Chelsea Flower Show is now just around the corner and once again the great and the good of the horticultural and garden design industries will be out in force to showcase their skills and draw public attention to new plants, design ideas and remind us that we are a ‘Nation of Gardeners’.

This year will no doubt have a number of surprise plants featured in show gardens across the shows (I can tell you that we are producing a number of very interesting and choice plants for a number of gardens). There will, however, be some more predictable; you might say ‘bankable’ plants at the shows ready to shine. These plants help lift planting schemes with flower, foliage and a fizzy razzamatazz that make for special moments. Of course, it's not all about how garden designers use these plants; you, the gardener, can create your own winning combinations with some of these wonderful plants with relative ease.

Geum, Geranium, Salvia and Verbena bonariensis are all common enough plants and shine in the earlier shows like RHS Malvern, RHS Chelsea and BBC Gardener’s World Live shows. Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’ has been very successfully partnered with Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’ for a few years now and for good reason. Both are very richly coloured and their flower power speaks for itself, with both typically being in flower during Malvern, Chelsea, BBC Gardener’s World Live and Hampton Court Flower Show. They’ll no doubt make an appearance in gardens at the inaugural RHS Chatsworth Flower Show this year as well and may well appear a month later at Tatton Park too. Useful to have such reliable long flowering periods and great to add vibrant colour to your garden. Both do well if pruned back (‘The Chelsea Chop’ i.e. cut back just after Chelsea in late May), encouraging flowering again within a month of their haircut.

Plants to look out for achieving the ‘shows look’ will generally include the following;

RHS Chelsea -

Digitalis (Foxgloves)
Salvia nemorosa varieties
Umbles like Cow Parsley (Anthriscus), Cenolophium and Daucus (Wild Carrot)
Geum, especially modern varieties like ‘Totally Tangerine’, ‘Banana Daiquiri’, ‘Cosmopolitan’
Paeonia (Paeony)

RHS Hampton Court -

Achillea (Yarrow)
Eryngium (Sea Holly)
Cirsium rivulare ‘Atropurpureum’
Echinops ritro (Thistles)

RHS Tatton Park -

Sanguisorba (Burnet)
Taller Grasses (Miscanthus, Panicum, Molinia)

Binding plants used to pull planting combinations together across most show gardens include;

Foeniculum (Fennel)
Alchemilla mollis (Lady’s Mantle)
Small grasses like Deschampsia, Hakonechloa and Festuca
Erigeron karvinskianus (Daisy)

All of these very useful plants repay with lots of flower, colour and ‘presence’ in planting schemes that make them useful in shows and better still in your garden. If you make it to any of the big shows this year, you can guarantee to see some of our plants in gardens. Many hours of hard work, blood, sweat and (occasionally) tears goes into their production, but seeing them shine in beautiful gardens makes it all worthwhile.

Happy Gardening,

The Passionate Plantsman

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